1. Cool down…
The first thing you need to do after your workout is cool down. No matter if you were lifting heavy, doing sprints, or doing circuit training, you need to bring your heart rate down to a slow and steady pace, which will help you avoid feeling sick after a workout. Easy ideas for cool downs are 5 minutes of walking or cycling.
2. Stretch it out
Some people thinking stretching is only for before workouts. Stretching after your workout is just as important – maybe even more important than stretching before! After a workout, your muscles naturally contract tightening everything. When you finish working out the muscles begin to restore their length. By stretching you can help jumpstart the restoration and rebuilding process allowing you to get back to “normal” more quickly. A good stretch will also help increase circulation, lessen your soreness, and help improve your flexibility and range of motion!
3. Hydrate and re-fuel!
Even when you are actually done exercising, you need to keep replenishing your fluid levels. It’s recommended that you drink another 16-24oz within two hours after you have finished. Then, drink water regularly afterwards. You may not feel thirsty anymore, but you still need to replenish yourself to avoid getting dehydrated. In addition to hydrating, make sure to get a good snack of complex carbs and protein to help repair your torn muscles and replenish your energy. A great post workout snack is whole grain crackers with tuna or a sweet potato with some grilled chicken.
4. Get some rest!
Lastly, make sure you get a good night sleep! The muscle rebuilding process is hindered when you don’t get enough rest. Not to mention that a lack of sleep is connected to increased bodyfat percentage, more issues with insulin sensitivity, and even a disproportionate decrease in lean muscle mass when eating a caloric deficit. Everyone is different, but most people need between 7-9 hours of sleep per night so try “shutting down” earlier by reading a book instead of watching TV in bed and having a no laptop in the bedroom policy. That should help you relax and get to bed sooner!