You just finished a sweaty workout, and you’re feeling accomplished.
So, what should you do next?
If you’re like most people, you want nothing more than to lie down and collapse on the couch.
I mean, you deserve the rest, right?
A big mistake!
As we will see in today’s post, what you do post-workout is just as important as the training itself.
Otherwise, you’ll be setting yourself for trouble.
Here is a list of eight bad post-workout habits that can impact your training recovery along with what you should do instead.
Mistake 1: Stopping on the spot
A common mistake trainees—especially runners—make while working out is going from 40 to zero. That’s a big mistake.
The fact is, to get the most out of your training, you gotta take those five to ten extra minutes to cool down.
Here is why.
When you exercise, your blood pressure and blood flow increase to meet the high demands you’re placing on your body.
By stopping on the spot, you diminish your body’s needs for increased blood flow, which may cause blood pooling in the extremities. This, often than not, can result in fainting, dizziness or, nausea.
Not only that, doing so may also cause delayed onset muscle soreness as blood pools in exhausted muscles.
Mistake 2: Forget to stretch
Research on the effectiveness of stretching for preventing injury is still mixed, but that’s no excuse for skipping it altogether.
In fact, stretching is part and parcel of any training program—I cannot emphasize this enough.
Stretching your muscles post-workout improves flexibility, breaks down lactic acid, and speeds up your fitness gains. It also helps release tension and reduces muscle stiffness and soreness.
Skipping the stretch could hinder your range of motion, thus making you more prone to pain and injuries.
In other words, when you take care of your muscles, they’ll take care of you. Simple as that.
There are many stretches you can do to release tension and ease soreness after a hard workout.
Here are three of my favorite routines:
Mistake 3: Forget to hydrate
Drinking plenty of water is essential to overall health, but it’s way significant during the post-workout window.
Unfortunately, most trainees are walking around dehydrated.
Here is the truth.
Your body needs to refill its fluid stores to function optimally, thus, it’s paramount to rehydrate properly following a workout—regardless of your training intensity, weather, and personal preferences.
As a rule of thumb, stay well hydrated not only in the hours right after a workout but throughout the day.
Although the exact numbers vary from person to person, as a general guideline, aim for half of your body weight in ounces per day.
So, for instance, if you weigh 180 pounds, shoot for 90 ounces, at the very least.
If you sweat a lot, get in an extra 500 to 600 ml for every hour of exercise—this is especially the case in the summer.
To ensure you’re well hydrated, look at your pee. If it’s dark, it most likely means you need more water.
Here is the full guide to proper hydration.
Mistake 4: Forgetting to change your clothing
Workout clothes might be comfortable, but not changing out of your sweaty items is not only a smelly mistake but also dangerous.
Damp workout clothing retains moisture. Wearing it for too long post training may cause rashes, body acne, and bacterial infections, including staff and yeast infections. Yikes!
So, whether you jump into the shower right away or not, step out of your workout gear. Always have a pack of clean change of clothes, including socks, underwear, a T-shirt, and a bra (for the ladies).
Shower if it’s possible, but if time does not allow it, then, make sure your workout gear is made of high performance fabrics designed to keep you dry and comfortable.
And stay away from cotton, which traps in moisture.
Mistake 5: Eating Junk
You just shed some mad calories, so you deserve a treat, right?
Well, think again. Exercise is not an excuse to scarf that burger and fries or chocolate brownie.
Of course, exercising intensely for an hour burns a lot of calories, but indulging in junk food is not what you ought to be consuming following a workout.
This is especially the case if you’re looking to lose the extra pounds or maintain a healthy weight.
The fact is, you cannot outrun a crappy diet—no matter how fast you can go.
So, as a rule of thumb, make sure to give your body what it needs—which is, often than not, not necessarily what your cravings are screaming for.
The list of foods to avoid post workout is long, but here is a start:
- Fruit juice
- Fast food
- And the rest of junk, empty calorie food.
Not in the mood for a full meal?
Then simply pack a healthy snack beforehand so you can refuel right away and the right way—possibly even eating in the car.
The ideal post-workout snack that should satisfy cravings while helping replenish carbohydrates and protein stores.
Think yogurt fruits, low-fat chocolate milk, smoothies, nuts with cottage cheese, turkey on whole wheat bread, and the sort.
Love, health and wisdom