There’s nothing like the feeling of finishing a tough workout. The rush of endorphins, the muscle burn, the knowledge that the hard work is over for the day. You take your workout seriously, but how much attention do you give to your post-workout recovery? Your recovery time is the time when your body builds strength, as this is when the muscles repair and grow, not during the workout. If you don’t give your body the chance to recover, you are limiting your progress, whatever your fitness goals may be. That in mind, here are our best workout recovery tips to maximise your downtime.
It’s easy to neglect a proper cooldown after you’ve already done the hard graft of your workout, but this is where recovery begins. It needs to be something light, just to ease the muscles into recovery mode. A light jog on the treadmill or an easy session on a spin bike should suffice.
Another key component of a workout that should never be overlooked. Stretching before and after a workout is imperative to prevent injuries and aid muscle recovery and flexibility. Full stretching before a workout will allow you to complete your exercises with a full range of motion and stretching afterwards helps to eliminate lactic acid and reduce post-workout soreness.
Staying hydrated is essential in all aspects of your life, but during a workout, it is especially important to keep your fluid levels up. After exercising, make sure to top up the fluids that have been lost through sweating and physical exertion. Drink slowly to allow your body to absorb the water and avoid stomach upset.
Eating the right foods and getting the right nutrients is a great way to maximise your workout recovery process and get the most out of the work you’ve put in at the gym. The best things to have after a workout are protein and potassium. A protein shake after a cooldown and rehydrating is a great way to aid the repair and growth of muscles and the potassium from a banana will help to restore muscular energy.
A persistent injury or problem muscle may need icing after a workout to reduce any swelling or inflammation and allow it to heal. Cold therapy isn’t just limited to injuries, however. Many top athletes take an ice bath after an intense training session to reduce their recovery time.
A lot of people find it difficult to take the time off between sessions because they feel rest is wasted time that could be used for training. This simply isn’t true. Muscles need rest to repair and grow. Burning out muscles every day will only limit gains and increase the risk of injury. That being said, it is a good idea not to be completely inactive between workouts. Walking or a very light and easy jog will be enough – just don’t strain the muscles that have been burned out from the day before.
One of the best recovery developments in recent eras is the advancement of compression technology. For most of us don’t have the luxury of a full sports massage after each workout. Home compression systems such as NormaTec provide professional recovery at home and on the go, which can maximise your workout recovery wherever you are. NormaTec uses compressed air to massage the muscles using attachments that cover the arms, legs, or hips, and are perfect for both recovery between workouts and injury rehabilitation. NormaTec’s systems can be found here.
Once again, don’t fall prey to the misconception that resting is the antithesis of training. It is just as essential as lifting the weights. If you train the same muscles every day, their output will always be limited, and the risk of injury significantly increases. Missing a few months from an injury will hinder your progress much more than a couple of rest days a week. The most important thing is to make sure you get enough sleep. Adults need between 7 and 9 hours a night, so don’t neglect this, and try to keep a regular sleep pattern.
Don’t short yourself on your recovery or you’ll pay for it in your workouts and your progress. Use these workout recovery tips and your sessions will be more comfortable and more effective.