A client of mine recently asked me what they should be doing after they workout. I asked them back, what do you mean? Are you asking what you should eat?
She told me, “Well, kind of. What should I do overall? I hear a lot of crazy things all the time about things to do post workout but I don’t know what is true and what isn’t.”
This made me think. There are a lot of crazy and random things the fitness world recommends for post workout routines. But they all seem to be semi inconsistent and also tend to lack context. This made me decide to clear the air for everyone.
So here it is.
The Ultimate Post Workout Guide
There is a lot of information circulated in gyms and online pertaining to what you should do immediately after a workout to boost the effectiveness and take advantage of recovery. A lot of it is good and a lot more of it is not so good.
Let’s start with a couple of myths before we dive into exactly what you should be doing for your post workout.
Myth #1: You HAVE to eat protein IMMEDIATELY after workouts in order to take advantage of your anabolic (muscle building) window
Myth #2: DON’T eat FAT post workout, it will closedown your anabolic window (prevent muscle growth)
Myth #3: You NEED a recovery drink like Gatorade or Powerade after a workout
These three things are some of the most common post workout myths you hear and should not be taken seriously.
As for what you SHOULD do. Here we go!
- You should try to Eat Something after a workout. This is due to the simple fact that exercise by nature is catabolic (breaks down muscle). While humans have the ability to replenish glycogen (glucose) levels fairly easily regardless of when they eat, some people simply feel good if they refuel after a good tough workout. Much of the time a workout can leave you feeling drained from working hard and the psychological effects of eating help you understand that you’re going to be ok. While there are some benefits such as protein synthesis from eating protein directly after a workout it does not appear to matter too much when or what you decide to eat. The biggest takeaway here is that you should eat something. Preferably with some protein in it, but something nonetheless. Don’t get hung up on whether it is a full meal or a shake. Do what you are likely to do most consistently. If that means you’ll always have a shake, then do that. If you’d rather have a meal, then do that.
- Stretch! Stretching is something most people know they should do, but don’t necessarily know why. Truthfully, I am often against stretching in many instances but stretching post workout has one very specific and important benefit. It returns NORMAL range of motion. Stretching post workout is not meant to increase passive range of motion aka give you more than you had before. It is simply meant to return the range of motion you had prior to working out and shortening all of your muscle bellies. This specific benefit is meant to allow you to comfortably and safely continue to do whatever you would normally do after the workout whether it is go back to work and sit at a desk, work in the yard, clean the house, etc.
- Hydrate! It’s true that many people drink a fairly decent amount of water while working out. This is a good thing. However, they often stop drinking after the workout is done. This is a not so good thing. We often overlook hydration and energy needs throughout our day and often have a hard time determining how much is needed and allocated for exercise and how much for normal everyday life stuff. The point here is you use much of the water you’re taking in during a workout, for the workout. Once the workout is over, you still need to hydrate your body for your normal day and bodily functions.
These are the top 3 things you should always be doing after your workouts, no questions asked. There are certainly other things you can do that may help you recover a little bit faster or more effectively, but without these three all other things are simply useless tools.
Don’t continue to struggle with something that can be so simple! Reach out to us at www.compassanchorfit.com or respond back to this email with the words “Post Workout” to talk with one of our certified personal trainers about a routine to help you get on track.