If you have spent time reading guides about how to get the most out of your training, most will focus on the workout itself. They will focus on how to perform the perfect bench press, make your workouts more efficient and in short, constrain themselves to the gym floor.
Today, we are going to go against such an approach. Today’s topic is instead going to focus on what you should do after you leave the gym, or your exercise environment of choice.
Far too many people make the same mistakes over and over again – and none of these occur when you are actually performing exercise. It’s these sorts of mistakes that won’t just increase the chances of an injury occurring, but will also make it even harder for you to make that elusive progress with your fitness goals.
Fortunately, these suggestions are much easier to implement than exercise-related tips. Bearing this in mind, we will now take a look at five prime suggestions for those of you who want to get the most out of your exercise regime – after you have driven away from the gym.
Your cool down is on the couch
Unfortunately, this is something that so many are guilty with and it just doesn’t do us any favors in the slightest.
After a grueling session at the gym, you might think that you could be forgiven for thinking that you could lie back on the couch and watch the day go by. After all, your body is exhausted, and you’ve done your good deed for the day, right?
It doesn’t quite work like this. We’re going to assume that you’ve put your body through vigorous exercise up until now, and following this period you need some light activity to aid the recovery process. We’re by no means suggesting that you should depart on a five mile hike immediately after, but at least engaging in an activity which will keep the blood moving will do you the world of good.
These rules don’t just apply to your house either. If you are heading to work after the gym, make sure you regularly get up, go for a wander, and even insert some stretches into your routine. By doing this, the blood will continue to keep moving, and this will result in your muscles being repaired and refueled through the course of the day.
…At the same time, don’t have double sessions
Following on from the above, some of you might be under the impression that instead of heading for the couch, you can opt to do the opposite and engage in heavy chores instead. When we refer to heavy chores, we’re talking about tasks like mowing the lawn, pulling weeds – or anything else that puts your body under more stress than it really needs.
On a standard day, it’s great that you engage in such chores. On the day that you have just completed a workout, it’s anything but great. It’s these sorts of tasks which really can take it out of your muscles, which are already tired following your workout. When you fall into this trap, the risk of injury skyrockets.
As such, these tasks need to be moved back to a day where you haven’t got a workout planned in. It’s on these days where you will likely reap more benefits as well, as the bending, climbing and everything else that you put your body through will actually do you good.
Of course, if your schedule is tight, there might not be any other options. In this case, at least try and delay the chores for a few hours after your workout, which will give your muscles a small amount of rest before they are used again.
Make sure you feed your body accordingly
Now that you have got your post-workout activities in order, it’s time to turn our attention to the way in which you eat and drink. As we all know, this is a key recovery stage, so getting this period wrong is really going to wreak havoc with the way in which your body reacts after a workout.
In short, you should be looking to consume foods and drinks after about 20 to 30 minutes of finishing your workout. Admittedly, if you are heading to work, this can be difficult. This is why forward planning is essential and you should always look to take with you some healthy snacks so you can quickly turn to them (whether it’s at your car or behind your desk).
In relation to the types of snacks, you’ll have probably guessed that protein is high on the menu at this point. Complex carbohydrates can perk up your energy levels as well, meaning that the likes of fruit, almonds and yogurt are all good examples.
It should also go without saying that drinking plenty of water is a must as well, just so you can rehydrate accordingly.
And, a final caveat – make sure you don’t overindulge. Just because you have participated in a tough workout, doesn’t mean to say that you can plough the calories back onto your waistline with bad food choices.
Get changed into fresh clothes as a matter of urgency
This next post-workout suggestion might come as something of a surprise. Sure, most guides focus on eating the right things after a workout, but few spend time looking at what you are wearing.
Far too many people keep their sweaty gym clothes on after a workout, and this opens up a whole host of problems. Firstly, the sweat that has built up on your skin can give you a chill, and this is hard to recover quickly from. Not only this, but all sorts of bacteria love the feel of gym sweat – and little else needs to be said in this regard.
Sure, some people might not be able to shower straight after, but getting changed should be your priority. Make sure your clothes, socks and shoes are all changed and in relation to the latter, ensure that you are putting on a sturdy pair to provide support to your feet following the stresses that have been imposed on them. These suggestions will make your muscles looser and warmer, and facilitate additional circulation which is a prime ingredient for muscle growth.
Treat your body with respect
Finally, let’s not forget that you have just given your body a tough workout, and it is still in the recovery stage. Ultimately, it needs to be treated with respect. Failure to hand it this respect and you run the risk of stunting your development, or even becoming more susceptible to injuries.
A lot of people are far too tough on their body. They like to push it beyond its limits, by not penning in rest days that are very much required. Without these rest days, your muscles won’t recover, and this poses problems like we’ve mentioned above.
You should remember that elite athletes always treat their body with respect, and rest it when the time comes. If they are following this pattern of thinking, one has to question then why shouldn’t you also think along these lines?
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