How to Recover After a Workout

Now that you’ve completed yoru workout, what’s the best way to recover? Here are some guidelines

You’ve just finished a grueling circuit training session and feel exhilarated, yet exhausted. It’s time to rest and recover and you deserve it! After building up all of that lactic acid in your muscles, what’s the best way to recover after a workout?

Probably the most important aspect of recovering after exercise is getting much needed rest. Not only have your muscles undergone a workout, but your heart has worked overtime to pump nutrient rich blood and energy to your hard working body. During a strenuous workout, muscles develop small microtears that need at least forty-eight hours to repair. That’s why it’s not recommended that you work the same body parts again within forty-eight hours. If you try to work the same muscles too soon, it not only increases the risk of injury, but can actually hinder muscle development. Give yourself a a day or two between resistance workouts unless you work different body parts on alternate days.

To recover after a workout, you need to be cognizant of what you eat and drink. You should have been sipping on water throughout your routine, but after you finish it’s time to drink more, particularly if you’ve been exercising in a hot, humid environment. Should you drink water or a sports drink? If you worked out for less than an hour, water is adequate for hydration. Any longer than that and a sports drink or Gatorade is a better choice.

Nutrition in the form of food is also important since you’ve depleted glycogen stores which need to be replenished. Eating a small meal containing around fifty grams of complex carbohydrates and a source of lean protein is an adequate way to recover after exercising. A smoothie made with low fat yogurt, fresh fruit, and a small amount of protein powder is a good post-workout recovery meal for those who don’t feel like eating food. To recover after a workout, it’s best to eat within thirty to forty minutes of completing your routine.

What can you do to reduce muscle soreness?
Although there’s little evidence that it works to reduce soreness, some people prefer to complete their workout with light stretching. There’s some data suggesting that alternating a cold shower with a warm shower, so-called contrast therapy, can reduce the incidence of exercise induced soreness. Sitting in a cold whirlpool was also shown in one study to be effective.

The bottom line?
To recover after a workout, it’s important to replenish fluids and energy stores by having a small post workout meal within thirty to forty minutes. Hydration in the form of water or a sports drink is also critical especially in warmer weather. Most of all, don’t forget the importance of rest.

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