How to Do Workout Recovery Right

Most people don’t think about the effort that goes into a workout after the fact, but your recovery period is one of the most important parts of getting fit!

Your workout recovery habits should include more than a shower and a protein shake.

Since training tears muscle fibers and depletes your energy, your body needs time to repair itself before the next workout.

Let’s discuss what you can do to recover smartly so you can be ready to train hard again.


Why Workout Recovery is Important

When you keep pushing your body to improve physically without a break, you’re really taking steps backward in your progress.

Having a recovery routine after your workout is essential to muscle and tissue repair as well as overall fitness and health. Your muscles need 24-48 hours to repair and rebuild before they are ready to be trained again.

Ignoring this will lead to muscle breakdown instead of strength building. Talk about a waste of effort!


Recovery Recommendations

Right after your workout:

Active Recovery

As you wind down your workout, add in some active recovery time to allow yourself to cool down. You can do any gentle movement you prefer, like walking or dynamic stretches.

This is important because it helps muscles repair faster by improving circulation to better transport nutrients and remove the waste you built up during exercise (like lactic acid).

Stretch

After your active recovery, slow down a little more with gentle stretching. Don’t push too hard or over stretch your muscles. Hold each stretch for 15-30 seconds.

Foam Roll

While you’re on the floor stretching, grab a foam roller and work on any spots that are a little tight, like your hips and IT bands.

Be gentle! If it hurts, it’s not a good thing. Move to the next spot.

Relax

Don’t rush out after your workout. You need to slow everything down, including your mind which will likely be racing after a hard workout.

Give yourself a few minutes to listen to slow-tempo music and just breathe.

Any added stress will make your recovery period longer, so by reducing some of the stress now, you’ll speed things up.


Nutrition:

Hydrate

Plain water is best for hydration, but if you sweat heavily during your workout, you can grab coconut water or a low-calorie sports drink.

Continue to drink more water for the rest of the day and possibly the next if you have an evening workout. Also, skip the post-workout happy hour drinks.

Alcohol will further dehydrate you and interfere with your muscle repair.

Have a recovery meal

Ideally, you should try to eat within one hour after you finish your workout to help your muscles rebuild and to regain some of the energy you expended in your workout.

This doesn’t have to be anything complicated, just a mixture of protein and carbohydrates. Chocolate milk is an easy and popular option, and you can also try a protein shake, hummus, and whole-grain pita, or Greek yogurt.


When you get home:

Sleep more

Our bodies recover during sleep, when certain hormones are released, including the most important hormone for recovery, growth hormone (GH).

GH helps with tissue growth and repair, which means those muscles are made in both the gym and the bed.

Listen to your body

The most important thing you can do to recover quickly is to listen to your body. Sometimes it takes longer to recover from a workout than usual. That’s fine!

Pay attention to your energy levels and any muscle soreness.

Ignoring these signs and hitting the gym before your body is ready will counteract your best efforts.