When it comes to working out, whether it be a few times a week or every single day, many people tend to focus solely on the time they spend at the gym. What many people fail to realize is that what you do and what you eat in the hours after your workout can have a big impact on whether your body continues to burn calories, repair, and build muscles in all the right places, or if you plateau and stop seeing results. Taking the time to build yourself a post-workout routine can help you to maximize your results and keep you feeling great long after you leave the gym.
We’ve put together a list of 8 of the best things to do after a workout that will help you see the results you’re working so hard to achieve!
Don’t Forget to Stretch
One of the most important post-workout activities to add into your routine is stretching. It might be tempting to pack up and leave the gym as soon as you finish your workout but taking the time to properly stretch out large muscle groups can help elongate and lengthen your body while your muscles are still warm and limber. Some of the major muscle groups that you should target include:
Take Time for Self-Care
De-stressing is important, as it allows your body to recover and repair after a hard workout. When stress from your life begins to mix with stress from your day-to-day life, it can significantly impact your results. This is why it’s important to take time for self-care, whether that be sleeping, meditating, or taking a bath. Some people struggle to prioritize self-care for themselves, it’s an incredibly important part of a post-workout routine.
Changing your clothes after the gym might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life after leaving the gym. Taking a few minutes to change out of any wet, sweaty clothes is important, as wet workout clothes can trap moisture that can lead to the growth of yeast, fungus and bacteria.
Eat a Healthy Snack
Eating a healthy snack within 45 minutes of your workout can help to replenish your energy stores and promote muscle recovery. Snacks that are high in carbohydrates and protein are ideal, as carbs help to restore glycogen levels while protein aids in muscle recovery and gives you amino acids to help repair your muscles. Some healthy snack options to consider include low-fat plain Greek yogurt with granola or fruit, whole grain waffles with almond butter, or a banana with almond butter.
Dehydration can be a huge risk if you aren’t drinking enough water both before and during your workout. This can lead to fatigue, cramps, and loss of coordination, and even heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Taking the time to rehydrate after your workout by drinking 8 to 10 ounces of water can help you to recover faster and provide your body with the hydration it needs. During your workout, try to drink 7 to 10 ounces every 10-20 minutes during a workout to help keep your hydration levels up.
In addition to taking the time to stretch after a workout, taking five to ten minutes at the end of your workout to cool down is essential in helping to relieve stress, prevent sore muscles, and prevent any injuries. A good cool-down can help your heart rate to return to normal and can help prevent blood from pooling in your lower extremities, which can make you feel dizzy and lightheaded.
Eat Magnesium-Rich Foods
Magnesium is used in almost everything your body does to exercise and build muscle, and because we lose magnesium while working out, eating magnesium-rich foods after a workout can be a great way to help you get the most out of your workout. Some magnesium-rich foods include:
- Dark leafy greens
- Almonds & Cashews
- Sesame seeds
- Fish (like salmon & halibut)
If you experience painful cramps in your muscles during workouts, then it could be a sign that your magnesium levels could be low. Taking an Epsom salt bath, which is high in magnesium, is another great way to give your body the boost it may need.
Treat Yourself to a Post-Workout Massage
Everyone loves massages, and post-workout massages can be a great way to reduce muscle soreness and increase muscle performance after a workout. If you don’t feel like going to a pro, consider investing in a foam roller. There are lots of great online resources that can show you different ways to use a foam roller to work sore muscles and relieve tension. Tennis or lacrosse balls also make great home self-massage tools.
Whether you hit the gym a few days a week or are there every single day, factoring in some of these things into your post-workout routine is a great way to not only help your body recover but also see the best results from all your hard work.