If you're committed to making 2023 your year, it's not enough to live in the gym. Even if you're giving it your all every session, you won't see the results you want without the right workout recovery strategy.
Too often, people treat their post-workout recovery as optional. A little something extra they can do if they have time. If you don't help your body recover, however, you could be sabotaging your results and making yourself vulnerable to injury.
To make sure you're staying safe and getting the most out of your workout routine, always follow these five recovery tips.
Remember to Cool Down
Your workout recovery starts before you ever leave the gym. Just like how you need to warm up before a rigorous routine, you need to cool down to bring your body back down to a resting state.
Even after your workout is over, your heart is still pounding, your temperature is elevated, and your blood vessels are dilated. If you stop activity too suddenly, you could start to feel ill or even pass out.
Cooling down brings you back to a resting state gradually to prevent you from shocking your body.
Try walking at a moderate pace for several minutes until your heart rate drops below 120 bpm. Then be sure to stretch out, remembering to breathe normally and not overextend yourself.
This simple routine can not only keep you from feeling dizzy or sick but can reduce post-workout soreness and help relieve stress.
Fuel Your Post-Workout Recovery
During exercise, your muscle fibers become damaged and torn. When you recover, your body needs enough raw material to repair the damage done. This means that no matter what your fitness goals are, you need to get enough protein to sustain yourself.
Eating a high-protein snack like yogurt or nuts is a good way to set yourself up for success because it helps increase muscle synthesis. But it's more important to make sure you replenish your protein reserves after each session.
Your exact needs will vary depending on your fitness goals. But as a rule of thumb, research suggests that taking 20 to 40g of protein after your workout is enough to maximize muscle repair and growth.
Drinking a protein shake after your workout has become an essential part of athletes’ recovery. Easily mix your shake in a BlenderBottle shaker bottle for quick 20g of protein.
Protein isn't the only nutrient your body burns during a workout.
Your muscles store carbohydrates as glycogen to use for energy. When you exert yourself, you burn through these energy reserves. For your body to replenish them, you need to take in plenty of healthy carbs.
You want to ensure you're eating a well-balanced diet in your day-to-day life as well. Even a minor nutrient deficiency can inhibit your body's ability to recover and grow. Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains while avoiding ultra-processed foods is enough to prevent deficiencies in most people.
Stay Hydrated Throughout the Day
Exercise raises your body temperature, which is why we sweat so much during a workout. This is particularly a problem if you find yourself outside in hot, humid weather. Left alone, all that excessive sweating can lead to dehydration.
During your workout, you should take a good sip of water every few minutes rather than wait until you feel thirsty. By the time thirst sets in, you're already in the early stages of dehydration.
Letting yourself get to that point can impair your performance during your workout. Dehydration can also impede muscle recovery, leaving you sore and stiff afterward. And in either case, your workout won't be as effective as it should be.
The middle of your workout isn't the only time you need to think about hydration, either. Drink at least 16 ounces of water or another healthy beverage like coconut water, or unsweetened tea after each session. This will help replace the fluids you've lost.
You want to ensure that you stay hydrated throughout the day. This will help improve your flexibility, rebuild your muscles strength, and prevent soreness
Sleep gives your body the time it needs to repair damaged muscles. And if you engage in frequent, intense exercise, you may need more sleep than the average person. Some professional athletes, for example, need to sleep as much as ten hours per night.
Sleep deprivation doesn't only deny your body the time it needs to recover. It also inhibits the production of hormones that aid in muscle repair and growth.
Avoid Alcohol and Tobacco
Alcohol and tobacco can both inhibit your workout recovery. If you need a second resolution for the new year, working on cutting back is a great option.
Alcohol inhibits muscle maintenance and growth in several ways. Research shows it can inhibit the muscles’ ability to replenish glycogen after endurance exercise. Alcohol consumption can also cause interrupted sleep patterns, denying your body the recovery time it needs.
Smoking is likewise linked to negative impacts on the musculoskeletal system.
While more research is needed, there's evidence to suggest a link between smoking and increased rates of muscular injury. Quitting or cutting back on tobacco consumption can also help improve your cardiovascular health. A healthier heart and lungs will help improve the quality of your workout routine.
Learn How to Recover from a Workout the Right Way
The start of the new year is a great time to commit to new fitness goals. But you need to be sure that you're taking care of yourself outside of the gym as well. Following these post-workout recovery tips is a great way to help meet your goals while preventing over-fatigue and injury.
To make sure you're staying fueled and hydrated before, during, and after each workout, check out our shop for our all-in-one bundles. These starter kits come with everything you need to start the new year off on the right foot.