To stay fit, we put a lot of effort into what we do before and during our workouts, but we rarely stop to think about what happens after the last rep is complete. Surprisingly, what we do immediately and in the hours after exercise can have a big impact on the effects of the activity. Whether it be how we help our muscles recover or what we eat in the hour post-workout, a few small habits can be game-changing when it comes to success in and out of the gym. Here are some steps to take to enhance your post-workout ritual.
- Step 1: Recover Better — Muscle recovery is critical to sports performance because it helps ensure that you don’t spend your rest days in pain. It also helps you bounce back faster so you can get to the gym sooner and train even harder the next day. If overall performance and quick results are what you seek, you need to build a strong muscle recovery strategy. Here’s how:
- Take CBD oil. One simple way to encourage muscles to recover fast is to take CBD oil for muscle recovery. Athletes rely on this stuff for its ability to combat inflammation and some even use CBD workout recovery cream to directly target those sore, stiff muscles.
- Eat recovery-boosting foods. We all know the old anecdote about bananas and potassium, but there are many foods and nutrients that the muscles use to facilitate quick recovery. Focus on getting lots of antioxidants, proteins and anti-inflammatory foods following your workout — berries, whole eggs and fish, for example.
- Drink lots of water. Again, this is one of those things we tend to stick to at the beginning of the workout, when in reality, it’s just important post-facto. Drinking lots of water helps speed up muscle recovery by facilitating the repair of torn, damaged muscles.
- Plunge into the cold. Whole-body cryotherapy or taking a plunge in ice-cold water may be a good way to help your body recover faster. Research shows that this kind of therapy significantly reduces inflammation-causing cytokines, leading to faster recovery.
- Step 2: Eat and Drink with Intention — Pro bodybuilders and elite lifters have long known something us Average Joes do not: your body sometimes needs a little extra help to get bigger and stronger. There are a couple of ways you can optimize your efforts following a workout session.
- Drink a protein shake. Protein is needed for muscles to grow and repair, so people who do a lot of strength training need more of it. Consuming a protein shake or bar after your workout will help replenish the calories and nutrients your body needs to build muscle.
- Eat lots of carbs. Consuming carbohydrates post-workout can help encourage glycogen resynthesis, which helps regrow the muscle proteins that were damaged during your session. But don’t overdo it on the carbs. Experts recommend about 0.5 grams of carbs per body weight within 30 minutes after training.
- Don’t forget the fat. Although it’s been majorly vilified by our culture at large, fat can be a good thing when it comes to workout recovery. Consuming healthy fats, such as certain fish and nuts, can help boost protein synthesis and enhance your results.
- Step 3: Get Ready for Tomorrow’s Workout — After a particularly energizing run, class or training session, we tend to see a spike in motivation and positivity. One of the best things you can do is to capitalize off this feeling and use it to set yourself up for success tomorrow. When you go to hit the gym next time, you’ll be set up without having to think about anything, which helps eliminate any excuses that could stand in your way.
- Pack your gym bag. You already know that picking out clothes the night before helps ensure that you’re on time to work, and the same goes for the gym. Wash and fold your gym outfit so it’s ready to go.
- Prep your nutrition. Do the same for tomorrow’s food! Forward-thinking — packing protein bars, energizing snacks, etc. — can help you set yourself up for success the next day and eliminate stress.
- Plan your workout. You should have a pretty solid workout routine that targets the whole body and integrates cardio, strength training and stretching. But if each day is different, it can feel stressful to formulate a routine on the spot. Do this the day before to eliminate any confusion and to ensure that you don’t get off track.
- Step 4: Practice Self-Care — For those who are in the midst of a serious workout routine or are trying to stick to positive habits, integrating self-care is vital to success. While exercising is an act of self-love in and of itself, it can also be defeating. The fact is, some days you simply don’t push yourself as hard as you’d like, and that’s OK!
- Take a bath. Is there anything better than a warm bath? Taking a hot soak is a great way to make you feel happy and relaxed after any strenuous activity, and it can be beneficial for athletes because it helps increase blood flow and relax pained muscles.
- Seek out motivation. For many people, dips in positive thinking can be washed away with a little bit of motivational encouragement, either by way of a friend or family member or through forums, quotes, social media pages or videos you find online.
- Allow yourself imperfection. When it comes to exercise, we’re aiming for progress, not perfection. And progress can be slow, but so worth it. Try to allow yourself to move at your own pace, and don’t beat yourself up if you don’t hit your goals every single day.
Listen to Your Body
There’s no blanket post-workout routine that works for every single person, so it’s crucial that you listen to your body and figure out what you need every step of the way. Building strong, healthy habits before, during and after exercise can help enhance results and set you off on a path of good health for life.