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7 Ways to Optimize Your Post Workout Routine

post-workout routine

By Elliot Caleira

Your workout doesn't stop when you leave the gym. Having the right post workout regimen can help you to build lean muscle, boost endurance, lose more weight, and reduce stress levels. Ahead, learn how to optimize your post workout routine.

Get Some Sleep
If you aren't getting adequate amounts of sleep, you aren't allowing your muscles to recover. Many important physical processes occur overnight, ranging from protein synthesis to hormonal balancing. People who want their daytime workout to count need to have an adequate nighttime recovery through sleep and proper nutrients. Aim to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night, and try to go to bed before midnight. Going to sleep earlier helps to regulate circadian rhythms, which influence bodily functions like digestion, hormone release, and eating habits.

Don't Forget to Relax
If you work the same muscle groups everyday, your body may start to produce too much cortisol. This stress hormone can severely depress your fitness goals, as it can increase appetite and force your body to store more fat. To ensure that your cortisol levels are appropriately regulated, give your muscles some time to recover. If you don't want to take a day off, try varying your exercise options. Yoga, for example, offers calm, meditative resistance training that won't activate cortisol production.

Stretch
After a long, hard workout, you may be inclined to skip the stretch. If you want to maximize your post-workout, however, it's important to stay limber. Tense, inflexible muscles can put a damper on your weight lifting goals. Stretching also prevents soreness and lowers cholesterol levels. It's an important post workout tool that too many people neglect.

Antioxidant Protection
When you exercise, your body suffers oxidative stress. To ward off the damage this can cause, it's important that you get enough antioxidants in your diet. Fruits and vegetables are loaded with these potent free radical killers, so make sure you get your daily dose. Blueberries, artichokes, cranberries, and russet potatoes have particularly high antioxidant levels. While it may be tempting to get your antioxidants via supplement, be wary. Many of them contain other vitamins and minerals that can impede muscle growth. Fruits and vegetables are the best way for athletes to get their antioxidant fix.

The Importance of Protein
Every athlete knows how important protein is to the exercise recovery process. A scoop of post-workout protein powder may not be enough, however. To truly reap the benefits of protein, athletes need to consume high-protein foods consistently throughout the day. To build muscles, eat a pre-workout protein snack, a post-workout protein snack, and a dinner filled with healthy proteins. To figure out how much protein you need to consume in a day, multiply your bodyweight in kilograms by 1.2. That's the bare minimum number of grams of protein you should consume daily for healthy muscle growth.

Hydration
You probably bring a bottle of water to the gym, but after your workout, do you forget to re-hydrate? To optimize your post workout, it's important to keep your water intake high. A hydrated body maintains healthy glycogen synthesis, which helps to maintain healthy energy storage levels. While doing high-impact exercise, try to drink 8 ounces of water every 15 minutes, or 32 ounces of water per hour. This will keep you healthy, hydrated, and it primes your body for healthy muscle growth.

Up Your Vitamin D Intake
Are you Vitamin D deficient? Many Americans have too little of this vital vitamin. At your next physical, ask your doctor to check your levels. If you're low, spend some time outside, as the body converts sunshine into vitamin D. You can also get this vitamin through eggs yolks, milk, and fatty fish.

Elliot Caleira is a freelance writer in the self-mastery and health and wellness spaces. When he's not writing you'll find him cooking or teaching Portuguese classes. Twitter: @elliotcaleira.

Healthy Balance
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