I want to share my tips for post workout recovery. Maybe you’ve heard of post workout meal, referring to the meal, snack or shake you consume after working out to help muscle repair. A post workout recovery is more than just the meal; there are several steps in the process including eating properly, replacing fluids, stretching, and resting. Here are a few tips based on what I do.
REFUEL: Immediately after I’ve finished my strength training exercises, I like to start drinking a protein shake that I’ve prepared in advance of my workout. I normally like to shoot for at least 25 grams of protein in this shake and I use a protein that is quickly absorbed such a whey or soy. OR if I’m working out close to my bed time, I’ll use a medium absorbing protein that gives me immediate muscle repair benefits plus recovery all night. Read more in Protein Powders: A Quick Overview. I try to “down” the protein shake in about 5 minutes since our muscles absorb the most protein within about 20 minutes post workout. NOTE: If you aren’t getting any protein after an intense work out, you are doing more damage than good to your body for the most part. In order to build muscle, you have to do resistance training, which breaks down muscle. After your work out, your body immediately goes to work rebuilding the broken down muscle and it uses the energy source that is most available. So by not providing your body with the energy it needs to recover, it will actually start breaking down existing muscle to try to repair the damage. Talk about a lose, lose situation!
HYDRATION: I follow the protein shake with hydration. Water or Gatorade are what I use, but not the sugar-free Gatorade, just the regular stuff. The hydration part can take more time, no need to chug like I do with the protein shake.
COOL DOWN: At the same time that I’ve started chugging my shake, I like to do light cardio. I just get on the treadmill and do slow to medium paced walking, 3 mph or less, to help my body cool down. The light cardio or cool down can last anywhere from 10-20 minutes, it really depends on how I’m feeling and where I’m at with my 10,000 steps goal for the day. The purpose of walking is also to help prevent the buildup of lactic acid in the muscles and it helps avoid muscle pain the next day after a strenuous workout.
STRETCHING: After the cardio is the stretching. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t save all my stretching for post workout. I do light stretching throughout my strength training, between most reps, especially when I’m working my legs. This helps me to help avoid muscle cramps or pain later on. Stretching after a workout is very beneficial though and it’s much safer than stretching before a workout when your muscles are cold.
REST: One of the most important things you can do for overall health and beauty is to get enough sleep. Six hours is the minimum recommended; much less than 6 hours is not sufficient time for your body to repair itself. Eight hours is the average recommended amount for most adult women; much more than eight hours will likely make you sluggish and more tired. I generally aim for 7 hours of sleep, sometimes I get a little extra, sometimes I get a little less but as long as I’m close to that I’m in a good place.
There are various supplements that I would like to add to my post workout recovery routine. The supplements I’m looking at are designed to increase post workout recovery benefits and avoid muscle soreness so I’ll update this once I get started on those.