You may not be aware that some of the things you do, or don’t do, after workout are bad for your body and general shape. They may also diminish your results. For the optimal training routine, you should pay attention also to what you do not only during, but also in between your training sessions. Check if you do any of these mistakes to avoid them in the future.
1. Skip stretching
That’s a serious one. Sure, often you have some limited time for training because right after your session you’ve got work or some other duties. But that’s not an excuse to skip the static stretching at the end of your session. Skip the last set, if you have to skip something. Plan your exercise timing carefully, and always take about 10-20 minutes for stretching.
The muscles are strained and tense after the strength training you’ve just served them. Stretching is to relax them and improve the blood flow in the muscle tissue to start the proper process of recovery. Skipping stretching you keep the muscles tense and tired. And tired muscles won’t work as effectively as they could during your next session. Hence, the weaker results in the long run.
2. Take a cold shower
That’s what you waiting for when you’re all hot and sweaty working out – the shower. And because you’re hot, you want a cold shower. That’s fine, you can start from cold, but don’t skip the hot water afterwards! If you only have time for a couple-minute shower, make sure you alternate the temperature a couple of times.
Cold water makes the muscle fibers tense up. Hot water makes them relax. The alternating hot-and-cold shower will boost the blood circulation and relax the muscles. And if you have some more time, and want to alleviate post workout muscle soreness, take a really hot bath after workout.
3. Drink sweetened soft drinks
You’ve been drinking water throughout the workout, right? Why don’t you refresh yourself with a tin of something sweet and sparkly afterwards? Well, that’s a really bad idea. Your body will absorb absolutely everything you serve it after workout. Along with the artificial sweeteners, preservatives, and colourings. And you definitely wouldn’t want that.
If you need something else than water, grab a glass or two of homemade juice. It’s full of vitamins and minerals your body needs to top up, and it’s got natural sugars for an energetic boost. If you crave for the sparkles, add some fizzy mineral water to the juice. This way it will be a little less sweet and more refreshing.
4. Reward yourself with a grand portion of favourite food
You’ve burned some calories, so now you’re famished and want to reward yourself with a treat. Well, if you really care about your effort and the results it is supposed to bring, you’ll have to redefine the treat. Make sure it’s not a burger with a pile of French fries or a pizza.
There are two features of a good treat: (a) it should be nutritious and natural (remember what we said about the body absorbing everything you put into your stomach after workout), and (b) it should be of reasonable portions. A well-balanced meal after workout is what you can and you should serve yourself – but keep in mind the quantity, and quality with regard to timing.
5. Do nothing during your recovery period
There’s the weekend, or the two-day break in the gym routine when you should rest. So you sit doing nothing, cause you’re body needs to regenerate. Wrong! Yes, your body needs its time for recovery – no one is denying that. The point is, your body does not recover best when you’re sitting on the couch.
You should get some good night sleep, 8 to 10 hours – that’s when you’re muscles are supposed to do nothing. But during the day you should be moving. Try some light activity at a moderate pace: a nice 20-minute jog, a walk, a ride on a bike, a short stretching session or a half an hour of yoga. Remember, you’re not supposed to strain the muscles, but let them relax. So don’t push it to the limits running or cycling – take it easy. Do rest, but rest actively.
These are just five little hints, but they can make a huge difference. On the way to genuine fitness, you shouldn’t focus on workout exclusively. Make sure you pay proper attention to what you do before and after your training sessions, as that’s probably more than a half way to the real change.