What do you do after you exercise? If you are like me, you usually go home and sit on the couch. Or if you exercise in the morning, you shower, change and head to work. Do those habits sound familiar?
A healthy post-workout routine is essential for optimal fitness. And if you are trying to lose weight, your post-workout ritual can make or break the success of your program.
Here are five things we can do to make our workout more effective:
1.Eat (Like You Didn’t Exercise)
Post-workout nutrition is essential to maintain a fit and healthy body. So, you need to know what to eat after you exercise. Most experts recommend that you take in a suitable combination of carbohydrates and protein to replace essential nutrients lost during the workout and aid in the recovery process.
But what do many of us do? We use the exercise session as a justification to overeat the wrong foods.
If weight loss is your goal, the key to successful post-workout nutrition is to eat like you did not exercise. Of course, you should refuel adequately. But it would help if you did not overeat because you worked hard at the gym. Be mindful of your food intake and include the calories from your post-workout meal in your total calorie plan for the day.
2. Stretch (Like You’ve Got Nowhere to Go)
Leave stretching to the end of your workout. That way, your muscles are warm, and flexibility training is easier and more comfortable. But what do most of us do (myself included)? We skip the stretching part of our work out and hit the shower. Instead, commit to a solid 10-15 minutes of full-body flexibility training. Schedule this part of your workout routine just like you schedule your ab work and your cardio. It is that important.
3. Rest (Like You Have Ants in Your Pants)
After you exercise, you look forward to a restful recovery period — on the couch, in a chair, or even in bed. Sound familiar? It is a huge mistake!
Post-workout recovery and rest are essential. Your muscles need time to rebuild, and your body needs time to relax. But you need to stay active in this phase for two reasons. First, if you continue to do the easy movement, your joints remain more limber and mobile. And second, you continue to burn more calories through NEAT.
4. Write (Like You’re with Your Therapist)
So how did your workout make you feel?
Believe it or not, writing down your feelings about your workout may help you stick to your program over the long term. A workout journal serves as a reminder of your progress and your accomplishments. It is also helpful to review if you have problems losing weight or completing your sessions.
So, it is a good idea to take a few minutes after your exercise session to jot down a few notes about how you felt during the workout. Include information about:
- What you did (length of workout, types of exercise)
- How you felt when you started
- How you felt during the workout (confident? strong? uneasy?)
- How you feel now that you are done
- Other factors that may have influenced your mood (work stress, relationships, etc.)
5. Plan (Like You Work Out for a Living)
What is the essential post-workout recovery tool? A pen, a smartphone, or calendar, or whatever device you use to schedule important meetings and events. As you finish your workout, you should plan your next session as the most important thing on your agenda. That way, you can be sure that it will get done.
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