Post-Workout Tips to Maximize Recovery & Results
Quick recovery after working out is probably one of the most important things for any athlete, but for many beginners, it is often overlooked. As your fitness level progresses, recovery time becomes increasingly important.
During rest and recovery, our body is trying to adapt to the stress we caused during our workout; it’s also recharging our body with energy and helping to repair any tissue damage.
There are two categories of recovery:
- Immediate recovery happens within the hour after the intense workout session.
- Long-Term Recovery is referred to as the period after post 24hours after a workout.
Both types are critical for keeping peak performance and for lowering the chances of injury.
For immediate recovery specifically, you should also focus on your post-workout protein intake. Probably the best way to do this is to prepare a delicious post-workout drink that’s packed with protein and essential amino acids.
What you eat before and after your workout matters
Food is the essence of life, we all know that. It influences every little detail of our body including our brain.
When it comes to nutrition for recovery, there are a couple of processes that happen in our bodies you should know about.
Food is very important for:
- Restoring the muscle and liver glycogen stores
- Repairing any damaged tissues and muscles
- Restoring fluid that was lost while we were sweating
- Helping the immune system deal with the stress we just caused our body.
Metabolic and Recovery Processes
Now let’s talk about each step individually.
Glycogen & Carbs
When it comes to restoring glycogen stores, the research found that human cells are best receptive to glycogen replenishment right after our body enters the cooling down phase – within the first 30 minutes after we finish our workout session.
In the process of glycogen replenishment, carbohydrates have a central role. The optimal amount is 1.2 grams of carbs per kilogram of your body weight.
But if you have a hard time consuming so many carbs right after a workout, you can get a similar result when consuming a bit of protein with a smaller amount of carbohydrates.
What about protein? Protein is a vital part of any athlete’s nutrition, and for the right reason. While we are exercising our muscle protein is broken down to fuel our demanding workouts. Restoring protein to the muscles after we are finished is crucial for helping our muscles to rebuild themselves.
Although research for the best timeframe and amount of protein you should ingest is still debated, most scientists believe athletes should ingest around 20-30 grams of protein within an hour of the cool-down phase.
Next up is hydration. The first question is: do you drink enough water? Unless you are very careful about your hydration, the answer is probably no.
Because of all the sweating, most athletes enter the fluid deficit stage after a workout, so consuming water within 1 hour after the session is vital for keeping your body hydrated.
Now let’s talk about sports drinks. If you’ve ever done any high-intensity workout sessions, you may have noticed that water alone doesn’t quench your thirst. That’s because we are not only losing water through sweating; we’re also losing electrolytes.
Electrolyte replenishment is the main benefit of these sports drinks. Electrolytes are essential because they help our bodies retain water.
That being said, you don’t have to rely solely on sports drinks to keep your body hydrated after exercising. Further, Harvard researchers recommend choosing water over sports drinks always. Adding sodium into your post-workout hydration routine is just as effective. Consuming select sodium-rich foods with your water is probably the best alternative.
Well Rounded Diet & Vitamins
To keep our immune system strong and healthy, there is nothing better than having a well-rounded and well-planned diet.
That means watching our vitamin C intake, as well as vitamin E and zinc. But keep in mind it’s always better to eat foods that are rich in these vitamins and minerals than to supplement alone.
If you want to cleanse your body from all the toxins in your body – which is something you should do periodically to keep your body healthy and strong, here are some amazing foods to help you detox your body.
- You can also consider a detox drink for even better results. Here’s a list of our top picks.
Recovery & Performance Tips
To cap things off, here are some important tips to follow for maximum recovery and performance:
- If you do not feel well-rested, it’s ok to skip a workout. If you’re still determined to exercise, consider reducing your effort. Remember, it’s ok to postpone a workout. Your body will thank you and performance will likely increase in your next session.
- If you like to have a well-planned structure, maybe consider doing splits. In strength training, this means you split up body parts and mix in off days. For example:
- Monday – Upper body
- Tuesday – Off
- Wednesday – Lower Body
- Thursday – Off
- Friday – Upper body
- Saturday – Lower body
- Sunday – Off
- Listen to your body. Recovery times are unique for each of us because we are all different. So you’ll know when to skip a workout or when to take on a bit more. But try not to overtrain. It is always better to fully recover vs risking an injury.
Sleep should not be overlooked
Although we are not aware while sleeping, our body is managing many essential functions. Probably one of the more significant ones is restoring our energy for the following day. If we rest our muscles each night, the risk of injury skyrockets.
This is because tired muscles cannot provide the support our bones and ligaments need – therefore, injuries like stress fractures and strains may occur.
If you’re having difficulties with sleep, it should be the first thing you focus on. Most people do not get enough sleep each night. This is mostly attributed to the busy lives we are leading, or because we just don’t take sleep that seriously.
As an athlete, you should put your sleep at the top of the list of your priorities (right next to nutrition and exercise). An average adult should get around 6 – 8 hours of good quality sleep each night.
If the duration of your sleep is optimal, but you are still feeling exhausted after you wake, look into the quality of your sleep. Many popular fitness trackers can help you measure this.