One, often overlooked, part of a healthy exercise routine is recovery. Unless you allow your body to recover from one workout, it won’t be ready for the next one. When you’re working out, especially when you’re doing strength exercises, you’re actually breaking down a portion of your muscle tissue. You’re signalling to your body that this tissue needs to be rebuilt to be able to better withstand that effort you’re placing on it during your workouts. Your body requires time in order to rebuild these tissues and repair other “beneficial damage” your workouts may have caused it.
The actual improvement in muscle strength, size, and tone, takes place during this post workout recovery period. Unless you give the body the time and conditions it needs in order to recover, it won’t be able to improve. This may lead to excessive wear and tear on your muscles, fatigue, lack of strength, and various injuries.
To be able to stick to a workout plan and to achieve results with it, you have to let your body recover from each workout. The only question is: how do you go about making this process as fast and effective as possible?
In this article I will share some post workout recovery tips to help you get better results from your workout without exposing your body to the dangers of exercise overload.
Tip #1 – Stretch your body
You should stretch your muscles after each and every workout. This is an essential part of your workout and can help you reduce muscle soreness and improve functionality. I also recommend stretching between exercises during your workout. For instance, if you do a bicep curl, stretch your biceps between sets. I find that this helps me do a better workout.
Tip #2 – Eat a good meal after each workout
Trying to cut back on calories after you’ve worked out is not a good idea. There’s a golden window of about an hour or two in which your muscles are simply craving for nutrients to help them rebuild properly. During this window you need to give them what they need so eat a good meal with some complex carbs and protein.
Tip #3 – Rest
This is actually the simplest thing you can do. Just rest. Your muscles need anywhere from 24-72 hours to fully recover, depending on the nature of your workout. So, never train the same muscles day after day. Always have one day a week, at least, in which you rest completely.
Tip #4 – Drink more
There are plenty of post workout recovery drinks which are marketed these days. I don’t really use any of them, myself. I just make sure to drink more water after I workout.
Tip #5 – Get some sleep
I’m not talking just about the nighttime. I’m talking about taking a short nap after your workout is complete. When you sleep, your body is better able to recover. If you can fit some naps into your schedule, they will help a lot.
Tip #6 – Take a week off every 3 months
This exercise recovery tip may surprise you but taking a week off from workouts can be one of the best things you can do for your body. I’m talking about a week of complete inactivity, as far as exercise is concerned. Just rest, watch movies, eat what you like, and let your body recover. This is also great psychologically as you will likely find that you’re eager to get back to the gym.
Tip #7 – Just do cardio
I often find that my recovery after strength training takes longer than after cardio workouts (as long as they’re not super-intensive ones). If you’re feeling a little fatigue in your muscles but still want to be active, take a few days or a week and do just cardio workouts.
Tip #8 – Do active recovery workouts
Active post workout recovery is a method by which you allow your body to recover through low-intensity workouts. Some studies and experts recommend this approach and say that it’s even better, in some cases, than complete rest. Reducing your workout intensity involves doing shorter workouts, lifting lighter weights, doing less strenuous circuits, and so on.
Tip #9 -Change your workouts
If you’re feeling that your performance is deteriorating, perhaps it’s time to make some changes to your workouts. This may not affect your post workout recovery as much as the earlier tips will, but avoiding repetitive workouts is a better way to workout for long term results.
Tip #10 – Listen to your body
The important thing is to be attentive to the signals your body is sending. If you’re feeling tired, muscle soreness, or your performance is deteriorating, it’s time to take some steps to better recover after your workouts.