By working out at the right intensity level for your individual needs, you can get the most out of your exercise sessions. However, there are five things we recommend you always do after a session to aid your post-workout recovery.
Although it is recommended that most of your exercise sessions be in the moderate range, guidelines also suggest you incorporate vigorous or very vigorous intensity sessions. For example, the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that people should do either 150 minutes of moderate activities or 75 minutes of vigorous activities each week, spread out over several days.
Vigorous intensity exercise takes things to another level. Vigorous workouts involve a large amount of effort and result in rapid breathing and a significantly higher heart rate compared to moderate activities. Lots of different types of exercises and sports can be performed at vigorous intensity, including strength training, running, racewalking, uphill hiking, cycling, and court sports like squash and racquetball.
Once you are conditioned to performing vigorous workouts, you may wish to move onto very vigorous activities – such as High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) – that require maximum effort and are generally performed in short bursts. Examples of very vigorous workout activities include circuit training, heavy weight lifting and uphill sprinting.
If you have started more intense workouts, it is important that you always do certain things to aid your post-workout recovery and help you to be in good shape for your next session. With this in mind, fitness aficionados are well-versed in the following five principles. And, as such, we recommend you always follow their example to maximise your workout sessions and enhance your fitness levels.
1. Take Time to Cool Down
You are sure to know that your body temperature and heart rate increase during exercise and physical activity. Generally, the more intense your workout session is, the higher your body temperature and heart rate will be. Therefore, you should always allow your temperature and cardiovascular system to return to normal after exercising – and this is achieved during the cool-down phase of your workout.
- Slow run/walk for around five minutes while gradually reducing your pace.
- Doing so will enable you to avoid feeling lightheaded, nauseous, or dizzy – which can happen if one stops working out suddenly.
- Perform static stretches, which aid with muscle recovery.
- The simplest way to ease muscle tension and avoid/reduce problems like delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and cramps is to perform static stretches at the end of your workout session; while your muscles are still pliable and warm.
- You should always focus primarily on stretching the parts of your body that you used during your exercise session.
- Hold each stretch you do for up to thirty seconds.
- And remember to stretch both sides (i.e. both arms).
Most people who engage in intense workouts over a prolonged session will lose a few grams of weight. In turn, that can lead to losing more calories than a moderate intensity workout. For example, an intense workout that lasts an hour can result in burning 600 to 700 calories.
- Your body can lose a significant amount of water through your breath and sweat during exercise.
- Therefore, it is important that you rehydrate after an intense workout.
- Dehydration can lead to symptoms like dizziness.
- According to the US Anti-Doping Agency, the best way to prevent dehydration after an intense workout is to maintain your body fluid levels by drinking water before, during, and after your workout.
- Also, if you notice your urine is dark gold in colour, it is a sign that you are dehydrated – and therefore need more fluids in your system.
- You can use this fluid loss calculator, which contains clear instructions, to estimate your hourly sweat rate during exercise.
3. Take a Shower
After you have cooled down and consumed the recommended amount of fluids, make sure you shower. This principle is not just about cleaning your body. Showering also helps your muscles to recover. In turn that enables your body to bounce back and be prepared for your next intense workout session.
- Showering can help get the lactic acid, which causes soreness, out of your muscles.
- It can also rid your skin of bacteria, help to prevent clogged pores, and boost your immune system.
- Furthermore, taking a shower after an intense workout is important because it helps your heart rate and core temperature to naturally decrease.
- It is best to take either a lukewarm or cool shower.
4. Get Something to Eat
It is the current consensus to always eat something that contains carbohydrates and protein shortly after your workout to gain the most benefit, which may help support your muscles after exercise.
- Carbs will help to replenish your body’s glycogen stores – which will restore your energy – and protein will aid in repairing and growing muscle tissue.
- Alternatively, if you are not able to eat a snack or meal that is high in protein and carbohydrates after a workout (due to personal preference or time constraints) you could take a recovery supplement.
- Two supplements commonly used for post-workout recovery are creatine and protein powder.
- Studies into creatine consistently show that it can aid in the enhancement of muscular strength, particularly when used in combination with resistance training.
- Creatine can also help recovery from intense training by reducing muscle damage and inflammation.
- Meanwhile, protein powder is a convenient way to get protein into your system after an intense workout.
- Whey and collagen powders are two commonly used protein powders you may like to try.
- Research suggests supplements can aid in improving muscle repair, reducing inflammation, and enhancing relaxation.
- They generally have a combination of THC, riboflavin, magnesium, manganese and L-theanine which work well for post-workout recovery, ensuring more optimal recovery and rejuvenation for your body.
5. Rest and Recuperate
Lastly, do not forget to take time to rest and recuperate after an intense workout.
- Whether you expose your body to stresses from weightlifting, endurance runs, or uphill sprints during your exercise session, your body needs time to adapt to the stresses it undergoes.
- Rest days and sleep are important factors in your post-workout recovery.
- If you neglect resting after an intense workout to help your body recuperate, it could lead to injuries (or increase your risk of injury) which will impact your workout routine.
Exercise is important for our bodies (both physically and mentally), however, many fitness enthusiasts underestimate the role and impact of post-workout recovery.
There are many things you can do to aid your post-workout recovery but we recommend incorporating the five we have discussed in this article into your post-workout routine.
Taking the time to cool-down, rehydrate, taking a shower, getting something to eat (with or without a supplement), and rest and recuperation are five important principles to aid your post-workout recovery.