Your post-workout regime should be taken just as seriously as your actual training plan as it helps to aid muscle recovery, weight loss and overall muscle strength. Having an effective and sustainable post-workout routine will also help you with your energy levels, meaning that you will find it easier to stick to your fitness plan and goals.
Muscle needs anywhere from 24 to 48 hours to repair and rebuild and if you work that same muscle again too soon, it leads to tissue breakdown instead of tissue building. This can also lead to DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) which can often take days to recover, leaving your muscles feeling tight and uncomfortable. There are a number of things you can do to prepare your body pre-workout to help aid with post workout recovery.
Hydrate and fuel
It’s really important to make sure that your body has sufficient energy in order to train effectively. Not eating before you exercise can cause dizziness and weakness, which can ultimately affect your performance.
To avoid this, you should always include a light meal or snack in your pre-workout routine - we recommend about one to two hours before you train.
Water is also just as important in your fitness routine. Physical exercise causes your blood vessels to dilate, forcing heat out of the body, and one way this is achieved is through sweating. Drinking plenty of water before your workout will also stop you becoming dehydrated and boost your energy levels.
Bend and stretch
Stretching helps to prevent injury. When you stretch you are making your muscle fibres more pliable and less likely to tear. You are also slowly introducing movement to your body beyond its usual limits and not just shocking the muscles with heavy weight loads. A pre-workout stretch session doesn’t need to be any longer than 5-10 minutes but it just helps wake your body up, giving you the best chance of achieving a solid effective workout.
It is also important to make sure that you have planned your workout for the week effectively. For example you don’t want to be training upper body two days in a row as this doesn’t allow your muscles to fully rest, meaning you won’t be reaping the benefits of effective recovery.
Figuring out your training plan doesn’t have to be hard - you just need to put in a little bit of organisation. You want to focus on moves that help you to build your overall technique and performance - this is called functional training.
Functional training allows you to work the same muscle in a variety of ways whilst building strength in your stabiliser muscles such as your core and glutes. The benefits of functional training aren’t just seen on the gym floor, but also in your day to day life. Focusing on improving strength in key muscle groups, as well as your technique within those moves, can help you with your balance, prevent injuries and improve your overall posture.
Functional training should be included in your workout routine in between high intensity sessions in order to build strength in key areas of your body. This will help you recover from your high intensity sessions, while also building on your body’s ability to mobilise effectively.
There are lots of functional training moves out there but here are some moves that you can incorporate into your exercise regimes:
But after you’ve trained like a warrior, how can you maximise on effective recovery? There are lots of different proven methods, but here are five tips that help with R&R after an intense workout:
Replacing the water that you have lost whilst exercising is essential. Water supports metabolic functions and nutrient transfer in your body and ensuring that you have plenty of water will improve these bodily functions. Fluid replacement is very important if you have been doing high intensity workouts, as you will sweat heavily and need to replace lost electrolytes. Some sports brands offer powders and tablets with high sodium levels, which will give you everything you need to effectively hydrate.
Up your carbs and protein
Studies have shown that consuming between 20–40 grams of protein can help to maximise your body’s ability to recover after exercise.* A quick and easy way to do this is through supplementation via protein shakes. During a workout your body’s glycogen stores are used as fuel, consuming carbs after your workout helps replenish them as well as making you feel less fatigued.
Time away from screens
Downtime is important after a workout, but it doesn’t mean lying in bed watching Netflix all day. Take yourself for a walk, or do some of those jobs that you’ve been putting off but don’t spend your time scrolling through social media or binging TV box sets. Focusing on your mental health and gaining clarity will help you to improve your focus and determination when you come to completing your next workout.
Get some shut eye
Catching up on good quality sleep can help your body recover tremendously. Optimal sleep is essential for anyone who exercises regularly. During sleep, your body produces Growth Hormone (GH) which is one of the key components for tissue growth and repair.
Spending two 30-minute sessions a week really stretching out your muscles is not only going to decrease muscle stiffness, but it’s also going to improve your flexibility which will have a positive knock on effect to perfecting your form when you’re working out. Stretching can be invigorating and while many of us have sedentary jobs, it’s really important to get you loosened up and help correct any muscle imbalances or misalignments.
Ultimately, the best way to understand what your body really needs is to listen to it. If you’re feeling stiff, sore or tired, be kind to yourself and don’t push your body to its limits. Rest and recovery is just as important as the training and without completing either of these effectively and properly, you will never get to that stronger and healthier version of you.