5 Post-Workout Tips to Maximize
Recovery & Results
By Stella Ryne
In order to make some sizable gains in your fitness efforts, you need to fully understand how both fat burning and muscle building work. While you’re training, your muscles tear and while you rest, your body is using protein (as a material) to rebuild the broken muscles. The upside of this is the fact that they grow stronger, bigger and more resilient. This means that what you do after the workout, both in terms of nutrition and rest affects your fitness efforts greatly.
As for the fat burning, you need to keep in mind that once you enter a caloric deficit, which can happen if your body spends more than you consume through food and supplements, you will start losing mass. That’s right, mass not fat. This means that instead of just focusing on your fat cells and downsizing them, your body will destroy your muscles, as well, which is a trend that we want to avoid at all costs. With that in mind and without further ado, here are top five post-workout tips to maximize recovery and results.
The first thing you have to do at the end of the training is to stretch your muscles. Sure, some believe that this is something that you’re supposed to do before the training, yet, the post-workout stretch is just as important. Feel free to take as much as 20 minutes to let your muscles cool down. This will reduce the stiffness in your muscles and increase its recovery rate. You might want to modify your stretching session and pay a special focus on the muscle group (or groups) that you worked that day. Still, try to go with a holistic approach and stretch your calves, hips, abs and chests every time.
As we mentioned in the introduction, your body will start attacking both muscles and fat but this is something you can control with the right post workout supplementation. The very basic thing you should take is a whey protein shake (preferably isolate) in order to feed your muscles. In theory, you could do the same with a protein meal, however, this needs to be done as soon as possible (preferably within the first hour after the training). In a case where you have to prepare the meal when you come home, you’ve already lost some precious time. If you’ve prepared it beforehand, it’ll already be cold by the time you get back. A shake, on the other hand, is something you can fit in a gym bag.
Once you get home, you should get your post-workout meal. This should take place one or two hours after the training, if you’ve already taken the protein supplementation, if not, then you should eat as soon as possible. Here, you should go with a meal that’s as protein-rich as possible. We’re talking about lean meat, egg whites or fish (preferably salmon or tuna). Keep in mind that this is the last meal that you’re supposed to eat before going to sleep, so go with something light and try to schedule it at least two hours before you hit the sack.
Regardless of what you do in your training (cardio, HIIT or weightlifting) you’ll lose a lot of water, which is something you have to make up for as soon as possible. First of all, you should drink throughout the entire duration of your training. Second, you also need to consider what you’re drinking. Fresh, clean water is the most obvious choice and soft drinks are to be avoided. Instead of coffee go for green or black tea, seeing as how both of them are a much healthier alternative.
At the end of the day, rest is the most pivotal part of your daily routine. First of all, a person who is exercising a lot is supposed to have at least 8 hours of sleep every night. Second, everyone, except professional athletes, is advised to take at least two days of rest every week (this is absolutely mandatory). Out of this, one day is supposed to be a day of active rest (hiking, cycling or swimming), while the second one is supposed to be a day of complete rest.
Finally, if you want to squeeze in two training sessions into your daily plan, make sure to make at least 8 hours between them, so that your body gets a chance to recuperate. In other words, schedule one for the morning and the other one for the evening.
One last thing you need to understand is that none of the above-listed steps is negotiable if you want to see maximum progress. Supplements are not a substitute for your meals, they’re there to aid them. Most importantly, stretching and resting are not optional either and the sooner you figure this out the sooner you’ll get to reap the benefits of your efficient post-workout routine.