Whether you’re just beginning to spend time in the gym or if you spend half your life there, exercising will benefit you more if you maximize your post-workout recovery. We all know that working out increases your energy levels, makes your stronger and fitter, and helps with weight loss but those benefits can be forgotten if you wake up the next morning in a lot of pain or you feel too stiff to exercise for a few days after each visit to the gym. Keeping hydrated, eating properly, warming up and cooling down correctly and stretching are some of the ways you can make the most of your gym session.
Gym, Exercise, Workout, Muscle recovery, workout recovery foods, Stretching
The optimal time to stretch is immediately after a workout. Your muscles are warm and pliable so they will easily stretch. Stretching reduces the lactic acid accumulating, which happens when you exercise the muscle. Don’t stretch before a workout. Instead, you should warm up by taking your exercise easy to begin with. Go for a short gentle jog or cycle the exercise bike at half speed before taking on whatever goal you’ve set yourself for that day’s gym session.
During intense exercise, your body will lose water. Since 60% of our bodies are made up from water, we need to replenish what we lose through exercise. Getting enough water into our bodies helps improve recovery time because it brings the electrolyte balance in our bodies back to normal. Sweating during exercise causes electrolytes to be lost which imbalance our bodies, which can result in symptoms like fatigue, muscle cramps and fatigue. Keep hydrated and you’ll also be helping your body to lubricate and cushion joints and tissues.
Post Workout Shake
A post workout shake that’s packed with whey protein will give your body the nutrients it needs after an intensive workout. Whey is a fast-acting protein which should be taken within 30 minutes of your workout ending to counteract the breakdown of muscle protein that is underway in your body after your intense workout is over. The faster protein is absorbed in the body, the more muscle will be developed and there’s nothing faster than whey.
Your glycogen stores are lowered throughout your workout as your body utilizes it as a fuel source while you exercise. This chemical is a form of carbohydrate that’s stored in the muscles. When you’re finished with your workout and you’ve had your shake take come carbs. A sweet potato or a banana is ideal for immediately after a workout but you could also opt for grilled chicken and roast potato or a tuna salad sandwich on whole grain bread when you get home from the gym.
Potassium and Sodium
Potassium is a mineral that helps our heart and kidneys to function at their best. It also helps muscles to contract and relax regularly as most of the potassium in our bodies is in muscle cells. The best and quickest way of getting potassium into your system is to pack some bananas in your gym bag.
As with potassium, sodium is an electrolyte that helps regulate water levels in our cells. We need the correct amount in our system to maintain normal blood pressure and to allow our muscles to function at their best. At the gym, you’ll lose sodium when you sweat, which can leave you feeling nauseous, and can cause headaches and vomiting. Anything that’s high in salt will add sodium to your body so we recommend spinach and beets as part of your post-workout meal.