The Ultimate Post-Workout Routine
Muscles don’t get bigger in the gym, they get bigger outside it. During a resistance training workout, your muscle fibers get “burned”, and suffer microtears, but not before you lie down to rest do they get larger. The body then works to repair and rebuild the muscles, making them stronger and bigger in the process. So, what you do after your workout is extremely important, if you want to build some muscle. That hour immediately after your workout is as important as the workout itself, and it’s important to stick to a good post-workout routine to get the most out of every sweat session.
#1- Don’t Overtrain
If you always train all the way to complete exhaustion, the damage will accumulate over time, and instead of building new muscle, your body will spend energy to repair its damaging effects. Thus, the focus should be on how productive the recovery is, not how fast you recover. Don’t “destroy” yourself entirely, but work hard enough to do more than you did the previous workout. This will allow for a steady and solid fitness progress.
#2- Always Stretch
One of the most underrated steps on the muscle growth path is post-workout stretching. Without muscle pliability and flexibility, you may not gain the muscle you really can. You’re more likely to skip it if you don’t plan for it, so make sure to do some stretching at least 20 minutes after your gym session, to cool your body down, downplay the soreness you experience later, and relieve muscular tension. Otherwise, you can’t go deep enough in a squat if your ankles are too tight, which prevents you from reaping maximum workout benefits.
#3- Get Your Protein
If you’ve worked out and haven’t eaten anything for hours, post-workout protein is essential. Add 20-50g of protein (depending on your weight) after each workout, to provide your muscles the fuel to improve and grow. Unlike meals, it is much easier and faster to consume post-workout protein drinks, their absorption rate is rapid, and they are easy to mix. They help you restore energy, replenish glycogen levels, and bump up insulin levels.
#4- Less Stress
By reducing your stress levels, you’ll be able to bounce back much faster. Your mood can be affected negatively by chronic stress, as well as your recovery time. If you start with an intense workout program and combine it with high levels of chronic stress, you’re risking an injury. The stress decreases your body’s capacity to recover and takes toll on your overall health and well-being.
#5- Don’t Skip a Good Night’s Sleep
Life gets faster and faster, the days seem to get shorter, so people reduce their sleep hours to less than 6 hours a day, hiding behind the “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” slogan. Say what you want, but sleep is necessary for our bodies to restore themselves and be able to function at their maximum. Professional athletes need up to 9 hours of sleep, while 7 is an ideal target to hit. Otherwise, lack of sleep over a long period of time will impact your motivation in workout sessions and make you mentally weaker.
During your workout, you’ve lost some fluids through sweat and you need to replenish them. If you want, for example, to run a 7-minute mile, the heart and body have to work harder in case of dehydration. By hydrating yourself, you won’t risk a decrease in performance, will lubricate your joints and regulate your body temperature.
#7- Active Recovery
Recovering doesn’t mean lying on the couch for a whole day. Yes, you do need to grant your muscles a break from a hard gym workout. However, doing some mobility drills, throwing a Frisbee, riding a bike, or simply walking to the store can help your recovery. A light, active recovery session can improve circulation to the muscles and stimulate blood flow to help relieve soreness.
Without the right post-workout routine, you won’t reap all the benefits of your intense and well-planned workouts. De-clutter your mind and focus when training, mind your water and protein intake, eat healthy and protein-packed foods, stretch and sleep. You should include these tips into your daily recovery plan whether you’re trying to get faster, stronger, or better.
Featured photo by Pop Sugar