Most people enjoy the adrenaline rush of intense workouts. The special ones enjoy being pushed to their limits. There’s just a unique joy in discovering your full physical potential. Even before you step inside the gym or martial arts academy, the anticipation is enough to make anyone giddy.
Once the workout is over and you’re headed home for the day, the endorphins take over and leave you feeling internally fantastic. It’s the post-workout high that everyone craves.
For most people, however, that’s where it ends. If you’re really serious about your workouts though, you should start paying attention to what happens after. Because that’s just as important as what you do inside the gym.
The post-workout phase is so important, and a lot of people fail to realize this. It involves recovery and repair, and mental healing, all of which are crucial to sustaining a healthy lifestyle.
The amount of dedication and hard work required for your personal fitness is no joke. We’re here to help you in every way we can. Want to learn what to do after an intense workout? We’ve got you covered.
Today, Evolve Daily lists five post-workout mistakes that are hurting your progress.
1) Not stretching
Have you ever noticed a feeling of tightness after a tough workout? Those are your muscles all tense and sore. This, of course, can be resolved by a good cool-down stretch.
We all know to stretch before our workouts, but do many people actually take the time to stretch after? Stretching after a workout jumpstarts your muscle recovery, decreases the risk of delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS), and enhances your overall flexibility. It can help relieve muscle tension, decrease stress, and halt the production of lactic acid, which is the primary culprit in muscle cramps.
On the other hand, skipping the stretching after a heavy workout can tighten up your muscles. If you make a habit of skipping your cool-down stretches, it can even get to the point where the tightness can cause significant discomfort and affect your range of motion.
Why power through the pain when you can avoid it? Dedicate a few minutes after your workouts for a bit of stretching. Just 10 minutes of it will do your tired muscles a world of good.
2) Eating too much
After a grueling gym session, people tend to take their foot off the gas pedal, and just cruise to the finish line. What they don’t realize is that they can actually negate any gains they’ve made with just a couple wrong choices.
This is a common thing that happens. You tell yourself, “I’ve worked out hard, so I deserve this.” That’s great. But then it becomes a habit, and you end up rewarding yourself after every tough workout.
Your body needs proper nutrition after pushing it to the limit. While that doesn’t mean you should starve it after an intense workout session, it also isn’t an excuse to overindulge in a double cheeseburger with fries and a soda, either. Don’t use your workouts to justify overindulgence. Instead, strive to eat clean, eat good, and eat just enough to refuel your body with the energy it needs.
Otherwise, you can completely undo your progress, and that’s an outcome nobody wants.
3) Waiting too long to refuel
Exercise breaks down the proteins that make up the muscles and depletes its glycogen stores to be used as energy. Knowing this, it only makes sense that you need to rebuild those proteins and replenish the glycogen.
Both animal and plant protein work to supplement the amino acids needed to repair proteins, and you need carbs to recharge your glycogen stores. Quite simply, proper nutrition can optimize your muscle regeneration and power your muscles up for the next workout session.
One of the after-effects of a good workout session is that your body’s ability to rebuild glycogen and protein is enhanced for a period of time, and while the exact time is not absolutely defined, many experts recommend having your post-workout meal about 45 minutes after your workout to maximize this effect.
As always, refuel yourself with good, clean food.
4) Having (too much) fun on a Friday night
While we don’t mean to say that you shouldn’t partake in the festivities, you definitely should be mindful on your weekly night out.
The Asian social culture heavily revolves around good drinks and good food, and it is very easy to forget how much you are consuming when you’re having so much fun. This is why it is very important to keep in mind that excessive food intake will set you back all the calories you just worked so hard to burn, plus probably a few hundred more.
It’s even worse if you’re having drinks. Alcohol makes the body focus on metabolizing it, which means that the body technically stops burning fat while alcohol is in your system. Moreover, alcohol metabolism produces a byproduct called lactic acid, which, if you’re not familiar with it, is also produced by your muscles during workouts and is the primary culprit for muscle cramps.
5) Not getting enough sleep
The brain produces human growth hormone (HGH) when you sleep, which is what tells the body that it’s time to regrow and repair cells. A full night of quality sleep will ensure that your body is recovering well after the gym.
On the other hand, since a large part of recovery occurs when we are asleep, not getting enough rest means that your gym performance suffers as well. Your muscles are sore and laggy, your accuracy and focus drops, and you become exhausted faster. Also, the lack of alertness caused by a lack of sleep wreaks havoc on your responsiveness.
We cannot stress enough how important sleep is, not just after those intense workout sessions, but for your general overall health. Sleep is key to living a healthy life.
If you’re down to push yourself as far as you can inside the gym, you should also be down to sleep at least 6-8 hours or more. You’ve earned it.