Most gym enthusiasts and fitness nuts focus too much on their pre-workout and actual workout regimen without ample consideration on post-workout habits. As a result, their body is unable to recover quickly and they end up spending the rest of the day, or even couple of days, fatigued. Even worse, they put themselves at risk of injury during their next workout session.
1. Hydrate Liberally
Drinking enough water is always a good rule of thumb, but even more so after a workout session. Increasing your water intake can help your body normalize its blood pressure quicker, stabilize the heart rate, and cool down your body’s internal temperatures. Water also contains trace amounts of essential electrolytes, such as sodium, magnesium, calcium, and potassium, that you lose when you sweat during a workout. Aside from water, you can also compensate for the electrolyte loss by drinking electrolyte-infused beverages, fruit smoothies, milk, and coconut juice.
2. Skip Happy Hour
Some people like to celebrate a successful workout at the local watering hole. And while it might be a well-deserved celebration, drinking alcohol is counterproductive to your fitness and health goals. According to the National Strength and Conditioning Association, drinking beverages that have 4% or higher alcohol content can increase your urinary volume, which means more electrolytes drained from your body. In addition, alcohol disrupts your body’s ability to synthesize protein, which ultimately means your body cannot make the necessary muscle repairs it needs to make.
3. Grab a Protein Snack
Eating post-workout might seem like a counterproductive thing to do, especially if you’re trying to lose weight. After all, you just lost all of those calories and now you’re refilling your body again with a snack. But experts recommend being careful with what you choose to eat post-workout instead of just completely avoiding food. Eat something that is rich in protein, such as eggs, yogurt, or a peanut butter sandwich. Protein, combined with a certain cocktail of hormones, helps repair muscle tissue damage sustained after physical exercise.
4. Take a Nap
When your body enters the natural sleep cycle, it helps facilitate speedy muscle recovery and reinvigorates you with new energy. That said, limit your nap to no more than two hours otherwise you may feel groggy post-nap. You should also pick a time frame that isn’t close to your usual bedtime to avoid interrupting your normal sleep cycle.
5. Jump in a Cold Bath
You’ve probably seen this technique being done by athletes in movies or fitness-related shows. And it’s not just some made-up ritual that Hollywood started either. It’s an actual technique that is popular with sports athletes, weightlifters, and martial artists. By taking a cold bath post-workout, you significantly lower inflammation and muscle soreness.
Working out isn’t a one-and-done goal; it’s a lifestyle. If you’re unable to recover properly before your next training session, you won’t be able to perform at your most optimal level. Use the aforementioned tips to stay on track of your fitness goals and to stay safe on the mat.