Maximize Your Post-Workout Recovery
“I’m so sore!” The three most common words that I hear from my clients, which is why I decided to address the topic of post-workout recovery. Whether you are a training client, new to the gym or a fitness addict, it is important to have a proper recovery routine after you train. Every time you exercise, your body is under high levels of stress. Muscle tissue is broken down and glycogen stores are depleted. It is after the workout when your body begins to repair itself. Too many times I see people neglect to take care of their bodies outside of the gym, which can affect their next workout performance. Here are some ways to maximize your post-workout recovery and get the most from each workout!
We know that the foods you eat after your workout and throughout the day impact your recovery, but so does the food you eat BEFORE. You need to consume a proper “pre-workout” meal or snack because these foods will be part of the tissue-rebuilding process when the workout is over. Digestion is a lengthy process, so the proteins and carbs you ingest before training are still circulating in your body after your done. Choose foods wisely, like a lean protein with complex carbs, especially with intense workouts. To avoid digestive issues or cramps, eat 60-120 minutes before workout. Everyone is different so make sure to pay attention to the timing of your meal and how you feel during your workouts. Drinking BCAAs are shown to be beneficial especially before and during your workout and before bed.
Stretching should be taken seriously and it is important for you to plan the extra time to do it! It is recommended for everyone, even those who only want to put on size. By not having the necessary muscle flexibility and movement, you might short yourself on muscular development and growth. For example, if your ankles are too tight, you can’t go down deep enough in a squat to obtain maximum benefits. Stretching relieves muscular tension and can decrease the amount of soreness you experience later.
Consume Protein Post-Workout
Post-workout protein is a must, especially if you haven’t eaten anything in a few hours. Aim for 20-50 grams of protein after each workout, depending on gender and body weight. Women should aim for 20-30 grams and men should aim for the upper range. A quick way to get your protein is by using a protein powder supplement. It is convenient, easy to mix and offers rapid absorption, which is exactly what you need after an intense training session.
Don’t Forget Carbs
During your post-workout window, you need immediate, fast acting carbs to replenish glycogen levels, restore energy and bump up insulin levels. Insulin can be extremely anabolic at the right time, helping the restoration of muscle proteins by inhibiting protein breakdown and stimulating protein synthesis. Some good examples are 100% fruit juice, Gatorade (regular, not the low calorie version) or potatoes.
Eat Potassium Rich Foods
Consider adding a source of potassium in your post-workout shake or meal. Potassium levels will certainly be drained after an intense training session. Potassium, among other nutrients like sodium and calcium, is a key mineral that plays a role in muscular energy. Good sources of potassium are bananas (which go with anything and everything) and potatoes (which go great in your first meal after a workout).
We all know how important it is to get enough sleep, yet I still hear about people getting less than six hours per night. When you sleep you give your body the necessary downtime it needs to restore itself. Sacrificing hours of sleep over a long period of time can also make you feel mentally weaker and negatively impact your drive in your training sessions. Seven hours is ideal, but many people, including athletes, may need up to nine. If you are not getting enough sleep, find ways to make changes in your day that will allow you to get to bed earlier.
I tell my clients, especially those who are always go-go-go in the gym, “without rest, there is no progress.” It is so important to give your muscles a break from beating them up during your workouts. Any light movements that will get blood flowing can help relieve muscle tightness and soreness, such as walking, biking, stretching, mobility drills and foam rolling.
Post-workout recovery is a necessary component of any fitness program. Whether your goal is to lose weight, build muscle, get stronger or run faster, it is important to include these tips into your daily workout routine. This will ensure that you get the most out of all your dedication and hard work!