Equally important to your workout is how you recover. Yes, it’s essential to have a consistent movement regimen, give it your all in a workout, and take care of your body via exercise — but if you’re not recovering, you might not be getting the results you want (and you could be setting yourself up for unwanted effects, too!). So what should you be doing after a sweat sesh? Ahead, our eight favorite tips for recovery, replenishment, and restoration. Come back to this guide whenever you need to remember what to do after a workout — now you can prevent overtraining and optimize your hard work!
Do These 8 Things After Your Workout For Better Results
#1 Cool Down
Stretch and slow things down before you come to a complete stop and move on from your workout — it may help regulate your blood flow, according to Mayo Clinic. Passive and active recovery cooldowns are said to have similar benefits — so do a post-workout stretch (which can also help with your recovery and may help keep you from getting super sore later). One study found that “An athlete failing to recover within 72 hours has presumably negatively overtrained and is in an overreached state.” So, don’t forget to cool down and stretch! Browse the stretch category in the FitOn app for free guided stretch classes.
You just sweat a lot — time to replenish! Not only will some H2O help regulate your heart rate, but it will ensure you recover well (dehydration is dangerous territory, folks). You’ve sweat out some electrolytes, too — so consider adding a splash of coconut water or electrolyte supplement to your water if you’ve worked out more than normal or for an extended period of time.
RELATED: The Ultimate Guide to Hydration
#3 Work on Your Muscles
Foam roll or try one of the other therapeutic modalities (from using a massage ball to a fancy massage gun) for some myofascial release — some literature has shown it can reduce DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness… aka, why it hurts to sit on the toilet after leg day). Take a few minutes and get after those sore IT bands and glutes!
#4 Get Clean
If you tend to wear tight, form-fitting exercise apparel, this is extra important. This type of material can trap sweat and bacteria to your (now opened up) pores, which can cause problems with your skin. Shower off, or take an Epsom salt bath if you want to give your muscles extra TLC.
#5 Get Magnesium
Ever wonder why marathoners love a banana and chocolate milk at the finish line? Eating magnesium-rich foods can help prevent muscle cramping. We sweat out electrolytes (including magnesium) while exercising, and a magnesium deficiency can lead to cramping. If you didn’t add magnesium to your water, get some now. Think: a banana, dark chocolate (a dark chocolate frozen banana?!), or even avocados and tofu.
#6 Eat Some Post-Sweat Protein
Speaking of tofu… Add protein to your post-workout meal! A combination of carbs and protein after you exercise is “superior” to carbs on their own, according to several studies cited by ACE, and can support your muscles and glycogen stores. Roughly a two-part carb to one-part protein ratio,15 to 30 minutes post-workout will do the trick.
For a total mind-body workout experience, do some meditation after your workout. This “habit stacking” of exercise and mindfulness will help keep you on track with your total wellness goals, increasing the likelihood of sticking to your routine. Browse the meditation category in the FitOn app for a variety of different meditation options.
Perhaps the most important tip of all, get. Some. REST. Sleep is hands down the best way to help your body recover, build muscle, burn fat, and prepare for the next workout. Be sure to get a solid amount of Zzzs after you work out.
More Recovery = More Progress
Putting effort into post-workout care will not only help you feel better and make progress toward your goals, but it’ll carve out a little extra you time to take care of yourself — both mind and body. These recovery tips aren’t just helping you prevent sore muscles after a sweat sesh! Each of these tips will create healthy habits that impact so many areas of your health, wellness, and life.