Whatever your goal for working out, it’s likely you achieve about 95 percent of that goal after the workout, not during the workout.
For example, if you want to build lean muscle or lose belly fat, an important part of achieving that goal is your recovery after a workout.
You can put in all the work, but if you don’t pay attention to what happens after your workout, you will be losing a lot of gains.
Worse, a lack of attention to post-workout recovery can lead to stress, dehydration, joint pain, and other injuries.
In this article, we will discuss a few simple things you can do to improve recovery after a workout so that you achieve your fitness goals.
1. Stretch after workouts
Stretching after a workout improves fluid circulation in our bodies.
According to one study in the Journal of Psychology, fluids in our bodies are distributed differently depending on our activity.
Stretching is the human reset that prevents fluid build-ups from causing muscle injuries after a workout.
When we stretch, we redistribute these fluids to get back to their original positions. If you don’t stretch those muscles, the tightness will increase and it can lead to the experiencing of pains.
But that’s not all.
Stretching improves our nervous system. Stretching can be our brains’ way of speaking and bringing alignment to our muscles. Let me explain.
Our nervous system comprises of the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). The PNS handles involuntary activity (think of heart rate control or digestion).
Making time to stretch after working out enables our brains and muscles to connect seamlessly.
2. Stay hydrated
Drinking enough water after a workout is not an option. Your body needs to help replenish the nutrients you lose during a workout. This is a vital component of how well you recover after workouts.
In general, staying hydrated can even help you accomplish some of your fitness goals like losing weight.
Several studies have found that drinking water can improve your metabolism.
In one study, 50 overweight females were put under a program where they drank a glass of water before breakfast, lunch, and supper for 8 weeks.
The results showed a positive relationship between drinking 1.5 L of excessive water and weight, body fat and appetite reduction.
Another reason why drinking enough water after workouts help to improve recovery is that it helps to improve flexibility in your joints.
The human body has about 360 joints. The cartilage is a flexible connective tissue found in joints and the disks of the spine.
The cartilage comprises of about 80 percent water. Sustained dehydration can reduce the joints’ shock-absorbing ability, leading to joint pain.
3. Get enough sleep
Here’s the good news if you already workout: research shows that exercising helps to counter the negative effects of restlessness and have a more restful sleep.
Exercise helps with the production of melatonin.
But the bad news? Most of us are not getting enough sleep. People for wrong reasons glorify the idea of working longer hours and sleeping fewer hours.
If you want to improve the time it takes to recover after workouts, make sleep a priority. Keep a consistent sleep schedule.
To have a better chance of sleeping well, we need to strive to develop and maintain a sleep routine. A good way is to have specific times to call it a day (or quit from working).
This routine tends to give the body and mind a definite start and finish time for the completion of the rejuvenation process.
One study showed that losing even one night of sleep affects our ability to perform on cognitive tasks.
4. Eat energy-boosting foods
One way to sabotage how you recover after workouts is eating unhealthy and junk food.
Look, workouts are energy-consuming. Lost energy needs replacement, one way or the other. And there is no other way to replenish lost energy than eating healthy.
Energy-boosting foods maximize the full effects of your workouts. They provide the body with the nutrients it needs to recover after a long or even short workout session.
Among all the great sources of energy to choose from, consider adding these to your post-workout meal plan:
Whole eggs are a great source of protein. Dark leafy vegetables provide your body with the micronutrients it needs.
5. Space out your workouts
Most people are not able to put in their best effort if workouts are daily or even twice a day. It’s hard to recover after workouts with back to back training schedules.
When we workout, we force our muscles to tear down. And it also needs time to rebuild itself together so we can see the results we want.
This is why daily workouts might not be the best for everyone. It’s okay to space out your workout every other day or even a few days a week.