Pre-workout routines are easy. You eat a light, healthy meal about an hour before exercising, mentally plan your session, pump yourself up with motivating music, stretch, warm up and get to it. But what about after your workout?
Just as you have a routine in place for before exercise, you should have a post-workout plan. It will help your body recover properly and maximize the results of all your hard work. Follow these simple steps for success:
- Cool down. Always end an intense workout with a cool-down period in which you continue performing low-intensity exercise for at least five to 10 minutes. This helps bring your heart rate dwn to normal and keeps you from getting dizzy or feeling sick.
- Drink up. Be sure to consume plenty of water after exercising, even if you were good about staying hydrated throughout your workout. An electrolyte drink or supplement can help quickly replace lost nutrients if your session was particularly strenuous or you exercised outdoors in the heat.
- Stretch out. Before you hit the showers, take a few minutes to stretch. Besides helping prevent stiffness and muscle soreness, stretching promotes healthy circulation and flexibility. See my last post on stretching for some specific moves.
- Refuel. Right after a workout, muscles are starving for nutrients. Exercise depletes your muscles of critical amino acids such as glutamine, valine, isoleucine and leucine, which are the building blocks of protein. Thirty minutes to an hour post-exercise is the optimal time to eat a protein-rich meal, or if you’re on the go, try a protein shake such as NRG Labs Sublime Whey Chocolate Chip Milkshake along with a scoop of BCAA powder. I always prepare mine before my workout so I can drink it immediately after when my body is craving the nutrients.
- Reenergize. Your body uses glycogen (carbohydrates) for fuel and energy. To reenergize after a workout, consume slow-burning carbs such as oatmeal, fruit (I add both of these to my shake), grains and vegetables. If you can manage a meal, an egg white omelet with veggies and a grain, along with a BCAA supplement is ideal. Remember carbs aren’t the enemy—your body needs them!
NPC National Figure competitor Melissa Transou, a fitness expert, wife and mother, blogs about the unique sports and nutrition needs of women and female athletes exclusively for Vitacost.com. Learn more about Melissa in this recent RXMuscle.com spotlight article, connect with her on Facebook or email her at email@example.com.