Don’t Skimp on your Post-Workout Recovery
There’s a lot that goes into maintaining a healthy lifestyle, am I right? Diet, exercise, vitamins, supplements, work-life balance, it’s a long list!
But one thing that is often overlooked could be one of the most important: your post-workout recovery.
Maybe that’s because we’re so used to pushing our limits, or perhaps because many of us think a “rest day” is enough recovery.
Regardless, we should aim to be as purposeful with our recovery as we are with everything else in our crazy lives.
Here are some tips you can do post-workout to maximize your recovery.
1. Be mindful of what you put in your body
Instead of grabbing whatever’s in sight when you’re ravenous post-workout (totally guilty), fuel your body with something that can help replenish electrolytes and feed your muscles.
Post workout, your body is depleted and low on energy reserves, and that’s also when we kick in to muscle-repair mode.
By eating proteins and carbs after you exercise, your body will be able to repair itself faster so you feel less groggy and weak.
One of my favorite post workout snacks is chicken salad with grapes and walnuts, or a green salad with tuna, apples, and lots of veggies.
If I’m short on time, a whey protein smoothie with berries and ground flax seed is my go-to.
2. Foam roll, and roll some more
A buildup of lactic acid can cause you to feel sore after a workout. And as you age, muscles can get tight!
By adding foam rolling to your cool-down routine, you will draw blood to those areas to wash away the lactic acid and decrease recovery time. It’s also a form of self-massage that helps with myofascial release.
One thing I’ve noticed is that my IT band (the muscles that start at your hip and go all the way down to your knees) can get super tight. It causes me some hip pain and can be sore to the touch at times.
Foam rolling has helped me a lot to reduce post-workout pain in my hips and legs. I will warn you though, when you first start foam rolling it can be very tender, even painful!
You’re literally breaking up scar tissue, but over time it gets much better! It feels really good…
I like the knobby foam rollers – the ones that look like torture devices, but starting with a smooth one can help as well.
Samantha Monus gives a great demonstration here of some foam rolling basics. I play volleyball with Samantha and she’s an amazing source of information for health and fitness!
3. Active recovery between workouts
One of the best ways to maximize your post-workout recovery time is to get some light exercise in between harder sweat sessions.
Go for a walk, do some non-strenuous stretches, or simply hop on a bike for a quick ride. Loosening up those muscles in between workouts can do wonders for the body!
This might sound obvious when it comes to post-workout recovery, but it’s something many people neglect (including myself at times). I must have been a camel in my former life!
Water supports every metabolic function in your body including lubricating your joints, regulating body temperature, and helping you feel full longer.
A good rule of thumb is to drink half your weight in ounces per day of fresh water.
For example, if you weigh 150 lbs, you should aim for 75 ounces of water per day. More on active days when you’re sweating a lot.
If you don’t like drinking plain water, try coconut water or adding a squeeze of fresh lemon or fruits to it. I love cucumber and mint water!
Using an electrolyte powder is also a good way to stay hydrated both during a workout, and during recovery.
Be careful with sports drinks however, as they are loaded with sugar and the “zero” type has artificial sweeteners best avoided.
5. Listen to your body
I can’t stress this enough – it’s important that you listen to your body. Be cognizant of what’s happening internally and if you feel that you need a rest day, take one.
Overtraining can be counterproductive and put a wrench in your fitness goals. If you’re feeling particularly tired, weak, or bored by your routine, consider taking a break. Or switch up a harder training day with some yoga instead.
And it’s true, abs are made in the kitchen and you can’t out train a bad diet! So stop spinning your wheels if your body is telling you to rest.
Instead, focus on diet. Eat healthy, low carb meals to stay ahead of the game and take a day off. You’ll be stronger and feel better for your next workout!
New to working out? Check out our 4-Week Workout Plan for Beginners.