Most people engage in half-hearted warm-ups before a workout. You may always remember to do a bit of stretching and warm up before you hit the day’s routine, but hardly have the time or energy for a proper post-workout stretch. You may be too tired to want to engage in further stretching, but if you make it a routine and do it regularly, it will benefit your body immensely in the long run. Creating a post workout routine that incorporates the pointers below will help you reap the benefits from your gym sessions.

Warming Up and Cooling Down
Before hitting the highest setting on the treadmill, you want to set the pace for your heart to orient it to the upcoming intensive activity.

  • Warming up increases the heart rate and reduces chances of injury, while cooling down after a workout brings the heart rate back to normal.
  • During an intensive workout, heart activity is heightened, and so is the blood pressure.
  • Stopping the treadmill abruptly when it is still at the highest setting could leave you dizzy, and so it is advisable to bring it down gradually to walking pace. This will cool the blood vessels and bring the heart rate down to normal.

Stretch Out
The jury is still out on whether cooling down minimizes muscles soreness and stiffness, but studies are clear on stretching. If you have the time to sneak in a quick stretch before warming up, you will notice better flexibility in your workouts.

You want to make post-workout stretches part of your routine because they enhance joint flexibility and limit muscle soreness. The best thing about stretching post workout is that the body is still warm, and so joint movements are fluid and unforced.

Hydration Is Key
You lose between 24 and 32 ounces of water per hour during intense workouts, and so you want to keep drinking to prevent dehydration.

While you may already know that it is essential to drink during a workout, but do you know you should continue drinking even after you have done your quota for the day?

  • To ensure that you are adequately hydrated after a workout, you could keep a bottle of water close by and sip regularly even if you are not thirsty.
  • The amount of water you lose through sweating will depend on your preferred workout.
  • If your workout session is longer than 60 minutes, you may want to incorporate a sports drink during and after to boost electrolytes in the body.

Refueling
Nutrition remains one of the most important parts of fitness. What you feed your body after a workout will determine your results. Your body uses glycogen reserves in the muscles when you work out, and so you want to replenish them to give the body enough fuel.

  • When should you eat? Well, experts advise on keeping it within 90 minutes post work, but you can eat as soon as you leave the gym.
  • Your first meal after a workout session will go towards repairing the muscles and so you want to make it count.
  • Proteins are muscle building foods, and so you want your first meal to contain high-quality portions of this food group.
  • Complex carbohydrates will provide the body with fuel.

Your post workout meal doesn’t have to be solid if you can’t get your hands on one, but you can grab a protein smoothie or natural yogurt, seeing as they are easily digested and available.

Whatever physical activity you engage in, you want to maximize its results. Having a proper exercise routine that starts with a light warm up session and then concludes with a good stretch will make your workouts much more enjoyable and the results more visible.

For more information, visit Careworks.

Author:  Katlyn Lytle Rushing, PA-C

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