You just finished a great workout, and you’re feeling pretty good. Congratulations, great job! What you do after a workout is just as important as the workout itself, and it’s easy to derail all the hard work if you aren’t careful. Working out is just a small part of a healthy lifestyle and your efforts could easily be sabotaged if you’re not making healthy decisions after your workout.
Working out is only part of a healthy lifestyle. What you eat, and your other habits contribute to your overall health and they all impact the way our body recovers and repairs, just as much. Are you giving yourself too much credit for completing a workout and thinking you can eat whatever you want now for the rest of the day? Keep reading for tips on what you should never do after your workout.
Never make these mistakes after your workout:
Forget to hydrate
Don’t forget to hydrate after your workout! Water is the most important nutrient for us on the planet. For many, it’s a challenge to keep up with this near-constant need for water.
This is especially important if you sweat a lot! Stay hydrated before, during and especially after your workout.
Your body needs to replenish the water it stores in order to stay hydrated, so make sure you drink two to three cups in the hours right after your workout.
Some expert advice:
Jennie from Colorado Springs Fit Body Boot Camp says, “Everyone is always asking me for a “magic pill” for weight loss. It amazes me the amount of money people spend on supplements and pills without first doing the most important step of making sure they are drinking enough water. Water makes your body work better! It flushes toxins out of your system, hydrates your joints, makes your brain sharper, and makes your skin look better. These are just a few of the benefits. Water is the ultimate “magic pill”.”
You generally don’t have time to get enough water when you’re busy lifting and lunging, so it’s essential you drink more water than normal right after your workout to re-hydrate.
They’re marketed as the perfect post-workout drink, but unless you’ve been running a marathon, sports drinks pack way too much sugar and calories to be effective. Stick with regular water, you’ll thank yourself later.
Your body needs to replace the water it lost. After workouts where you sweat a ton or work out for over an hour, consider having a beverage that replaces electrolytes, like coconut water.
You cannot out train a bad diet! You’ve heard it before, “abs are made in the kitchen”. What you eat after you work out and throughout the day is critical to reaching your goals. After your workout, especially a long or intense workout, your body needs to replenish and repair. Choose a sensible reward and monitor your portion sizes. Make good choices instead of a giant burrito or something else equally as heavy and high in fat.
Eating right after your workout is beneficial for many reasons. Your body will automatically use the calories you eat for good (repair and recovery) and not bad (fat storage). After your workout, your body needs to start restoring and repairing itself from your training session. In other words, it needs calories.
Forget to stretch
Your warm-up and your cool-down are part of your workout. Your muscles will respond so much better when you treat them well and take the time for post-workout recovery stretching.
Forgetting to cool down after your workout
The last thing you may want to do after your workout is walk for another five minutes, but taking the time to cool down lets your heart rate and blood pressure return to normal. Plus, it feels nice and helps get rid of that “jello leg” sensation.
Always remember to take a few minutes to get your heart rate back down and do some light stretching after your workout. You’ve been contracting muscles while training and stretching can help prevent muscle cramping and stiffness.
Stretching will not only help muscles recover more quickly and keep you more limber, but may also enhance the growth process. Also, stretching helps you relax and can reduce muscle soreness and stiffness. Skipping this step could make you more susceptible to injuries too.
Think that fitting in a workout means you can be lazy the rest of the day
Just because you worked out doesn’t mean you’re free to just sit around the rest of the day. Make movement a part of your lifestyle and take the stairs, get up from your desk every hour to grab a glass of water, take a walking break instead of a sitting one.
Don’t sit still for the entire rest of the day
You definitely want to start moving at some point after your workout or your body’s going to tighten up. Of course, you can’t escape your desk job entirely, but the need for active recovery in addition to stretching (especially if you’re doing intense workouts like a Fit Body Bootcamp). That means spending some time at 50 percent of your max heart rate (medium effort) doing things like dynamic stretching, foam rolling, and functional body-weight and core work.
If you can’t do it during the day, right after your workout, dedicate a few minutes in the evening or the following day. There are all different kinds of benefits—like stimulating blood flow, relieving soreness, reinforcing good posture, and more.
Forget to track it or post about it
Fitness tracking allows you to track your progress along the way! And, you never know who will get motivated to change their life when they see you’ve shared an activity tracked with Fitbit, on Facebook, wherever! I know this is not for everyone but hopefully you’ll inspire a friend to get off their ass and go workout too! Message me and I’ll add you as a friend!
Keeping track of your workout is the best way to monitor your progress, help you gauge where you’re plateauing and keep you motivated. If you did 20 pushups last month, that means you can do 25 this month! If you don’t want to use pen and paper, there are a ton of great apps available.
Every exercise session, whether it’s 15 minutes or an hour counts. Using an app on your phone or a workout journal, jot down the date and how many reps you did or how far you ran so you can see just how you are progressing. This can help keep you motivated and avoid hitting a plateau. Keeping track of how much weight you’ve lost and how much muscle you’ve gained can also help keep you motivated. Try this one now!
These body fat scales measure weight, body fat percentage, body water percentage, muscle mass percentage, and bone density.
Staying in Sweaty Clothes
Those yoga pants might be super comfortable, but not changing out of your sweaty workout clothes can lead to yeast infections or body acne. Most importantly, shower and change as soon as you can, and if you have to run errands after the gym, stay away from cotton, which traps in moisture.
Although it might be tempting to run errands or grab brunch with your friends after hitting the gym, it’s important to change out of your sweaty workout clothes beforehand.
In addition to making you feel chilly, staying in sweaty clothes can lead to rashes, infections, and body acne. Wear moisture wicking clothing to help keep your skin dry and be sure to shower and change after your workout.
You really should change as soon as possible after your workout or else you are susceptible to irritant rashes, acne/folliculitis, and a bacterial or yeast infection.
Most importantly, try to towel off and use a cleansing towelette right after your workout. If you’re acne-prone, like on your back, swiping the area with a salicylic acid pad can help. Wet, sweaty clothing can trap dust and dirt that clogs pores and often leads to breakouts.
A good night’s sleep is always important after your workout. That’s when your body begins to heal and build strong muscles.
Our bodies recover and rebuild the most when we’re sleeping, so proper rest is key. Your body repairs itself and rebuilds muscle while you sleep. Your body will perform much better when it gets adequate amounts of rest.
Remember what not to do after your workout and you’ll be happy with your results. Our bodies are amazing and you can really get incredible results if you treat it well and make the right choices during and after your workout.