You just finished your workout and you’re about to hit the showers. Maybe you'll jump in the sauna beforehand. But wait! Not so fast.
Like many people, you might be failing to take the proper steps post-workout, which could mean missing out on major benefits from your hard work. Whether your goal is to lose weight, gain muscle, or simply kick-start your metabolism, having a plan for after your workout is just as imperative as what you are doing during it.
To get you on track, here are my top four post-workout absolute musts and must-nots:
1. Must: Find your inner "om." I cannot stress this one enough. You must cool down after you work your body. Imagine your workout as a triangle: You enter the triangle at ground level (your warmup), then proceed upward, increasing the workout's intensity (your workout's climax), but then many people just stop and head for the shower. That's like climbing a mountain and staying at the top. You have to come back down to your place of origin.
To find your inner "om," try one or a mixture of the following: isometric stretching, breathing, foam rolling, and meditation. These will help you make a healthier and safer transition from working out to walking back into your life.
2. Must-not: Forget the other 96 percent. Muscle growth does not occur when you are running on the treadmill or lifting a weight—muscles are actually damaged with slight tears in the fibers during a workout. The growth of your muscle comes from proper nutrition, adequate sleep, keeping stress levels low, and staying hydrated. How you treat your body after a work out is pivotal to this growth.
Look at it this way, a 60-minute workout takes roughly 4 percent of your day. That means the other 96 percent of your day you need to provide your body what it needs to support your workout.
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3. Must: Refuel correctly. Strength coaches and personal trainers call the time right after your work out your body's "anabolic window," and it's important to refuel correctly during this time to reap all the rewards of your hard work.
It has been shown that individuals who consumed protein in a liquid form after working out significantly benefited from increasing musculature strength and recovery, as opposed to individuals who did not consume any postworkout recovery drink. Carbohydrates are also important to have in your anabolic window. After a workout your body's level of glycogen, the carbs that are stored in the muscles, are depleted and need to be replenished quickly or your performance will suffer on your next workout.
I recommend my clients ingest a two-to-one ratio of carbohydrate-to-protein liquid beverage right after your workout ends. JCORE Recovery-Lite is my first choice, being that this patented recovery mix is created with enhancing PeptoPro®, which provides all 20 amino acids. Human clinical studies show PeptoPro® will increase muscle recovery and performance.
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4. Must-not: Get too hot and steamy. You may think you are soothing sore muscles and sweating out extra calories when you jump into a hot sauna right after a workout. And I must admit that from time to time, I do enjoy the sauna but only on days when I am not working out. Here's why: Within a few minutes after you step into a sauna, your heart rate increases and your skin temperature exceeds 100 degrees. That puts you at risk of overheating and dehydration, and increases your chances for nausea, dizziness, or—worse—passing out.
Why take these risks and put yourself in harm's way? If you are searching for a way to achieve optimal results, jump into a cold shower. The cold water acts like an ice pack on swelling by constricting blood vessels and will therefore expedite healing and relieving sore muscles.