When you see those professional athletes pushing themselves so hard at the gym, you feel inspired and in awe of their efforts, as well as their results. If you’re particularly motivated, you might even go out of your way to invest the same amount of time and effort into your own routine, to maximize the intensity of your training and the quality of your workout performance. Alas, you’ll soon notice that the results will fail to arise, simply because you’re not aware of all the things professional athletes are mindful of before and after their training sessions, too.
Training is the catalyst for all those metabolic changes in your body that will eventually lead to muscle growth, fat loss, and strength and endurance improvements. But the actual muscle protein synthesis that leads to muscle growth occurs hours after you’ve left the gym. So, what you do to optimize your post-workout process can make an incredible difference in your results and recovery. Here are a few essential tips to keep in mind to enhance your post-workout efforts.
Hydrate like there’s no tomorrow
When you’re following a strict workout regime, and you’re a true warrior at heart, you may even forget to take a regular sip of fresh aqua while you’re in the zone. Still, getting enough fluids in your system during training means you will give your body what you need to push through those hard PRs, prevent cramps, muscle spasms, and potential dehydration which can hamper your progress.
If you find yourself feeling exhausted mid-session, and you’re not doing anything extraordinarily difficult, you might be low on water. With enough water, you’ll also restore your energy faster after the workout, help your heart get back to its normal pace, and your muscles will repair with greater ease without losing its tone. Not to mention that all of your post-workout nutrition would go to waste without optimal water intake – your metabolism needs it to make use of all the lovely nutrients you’re about to gorge on.
Don’t skip your stretches
Most avid lifters aren’t all that enthusiastic about stretching. It may be due to mobility issues earned over years of heavy lifting, or simply due to the fact that this is just another habit that takes consistency and dedication to build. Those who understand the benefits of stretching might not even see it as a post-workout routine but as an integral part of their training session – which is the right mindset to have.
Stretching and cooling down properly restores your heart rate to a normal level while you allow your muscles and joints to develop a greater range of motion, which is in turn extremely beneficial for your future performance and your results. Stretching is also very beneficial for reducing post-workout muscle soreness, and although you may enjoy the hard-earned pain of your workouts, preventing too much pain means your body will be better prepared for your next workout session faster.
Be mindful of your munchies
Perhaps the most essential of all post-workout steps you need to take revolves around your eating habits. Of course, although your mind will instantly jump to “must eat protein”, don’t forget that your body considers carbs as its primary energy source, and that healthy fats are as satiating and beneficial as protein. For those who train and rush to work or simply want to prevent catabolism, consuming a protein shake after a training session is a great way to balance your nutrient intake.
Protein and glutamine are perhaps the most vital post workout supplements that both elite athletes and amateur enthusiasts can benefit from in their eating regime. Add a scoop of both to your shake, you can toss in some fruits to make it more interesting, and you have a rich post-workout snack that will kick-start muscle repair, restore your glycogen levels in your muscles, prevent excessive soreness, and start your recovery with greater ease.
Make time for downtime
No matter how hard you train and how well you eat, all of your efforts will be in vain unless you manage to consistently give your body enough downtime. Sleep, next to training and eating well, is the most essential pillar of health that will either make or break your muscle-building efforts. During sleep, your body gets its much-needed dose of muscle-building hormone, repairing muscle tissue while you rest.
You also prevent a surge of cortisol, the stress hormone, which tends to pile up and wreck your training when you don’t get enough sleep. Be mindful of timing your workouts, too. Training too close to bedtime can elevate your energy for the next several hours, preventing you to fall asleep properly. If you train earlier in the day, on the other hand, you’ll be just tired enough to sleep without interruptions during the night.
Now that you understand the link between your post-training routine and the perks you’ll experience at the gym, don’t hesitate to implement these tips in your daily schedule. Make sure to give your body what it needs to boost your performance, and the benefits you’ll reap will be manifold.