Let’s talk exercise. It’s something that I don’t regularly talk about, but when I do, I like to drop knowledge bombs. And today, it’s all about how to recover post-workout.
It’s April already, so that means that most of the people who made New Year’s resolutions are pretty much dropping off at this point. Like everyone else, my husband and I vowed to hit the gym more regularly as part of our resolutions. At first our energy levels were great, we were definitely feeling it. But now, a few months in, our energy levels have just plummeted. We’ve been feeling sluggish and unmotivated, but we both don’t want to drop off our gym regimen. Anyone else feeling like this? Ugh.
It got me to thinking about what was going on. We’ve been doing so great at going to the gym, but one thing that we’ve been neglecting is post-workout recovery.
When I think of post-workout recovery, I think of Olympic athletes. I think of marathon runners. I think of competitive body builders.
But in all honesty, everyone needs to be mindful of what they do after they work out. Before we dive into what to do for recovery, you have to understand what your body is doing after you exercise.
What Happens After You Exercise
Okay, here come the knowledge bombs.
Your muscles store glucose, which is the sugar your body uses for energy. After a work out, you have depleted your glucose stores in your muscles, so your body releases insulin, which makes glucose from your blood go back into your muscle. This makes your blood sugar low, which makes you crazy hungry if you don’t eat post-workout. Cortisol, which is a hormone that breaks down muscle, increases in your blood, which causes muscle breakdown. This is normal, but can be damaging to the gains you want to make in the gym if not managed properly. This also happens more after a weight-lifting session than a cardio session.
You have a 45-minute window post-workout to slow down cortisol’s effect on your muscles and begin properly recovering. If you have a solid post-workout regimen, you’ll maximize your muscle recovery and muscle building potential.
Here are 3 must do’s to recover post-workout:
1. Cool Down/Stretch
Cooling down prevents blood pooling to your lower extremities after exercise. It also helps lower blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing to normal rates gradually. This is better for your heart and overall cardiovascular health. Stretching is always good to do, and has been shown to prevent injuries, reduces muscle soreness, and prevents muscle cramping. And no one has time for any of that business. Aaptiv has good personal trainer led stretching sessions (and general work outs!) you can follow along to. Try them out!
2. Drink Water
This is probably the most important thing you can do post-workout. You lose water through your sweat and breathing during a workout. Re-hydrate by drinking 24-32 oz of water within 45 minutes following your workout, and then throughout the day. Side note, drinking water and staying hydrated boosts your metabolism up to 30%! See my post here about staying hydrated.
3. Eat Something
It’s a myth that you have to load up on protein post-workout to make any gains. It’s just not true. The average American gets almost 200% of the recommended amount of protein daily. SO MUCH PROTEIN! We already get plenty, we just need to focus on timing of our protein intake. Like I mentioned earlier, you have a 45-minute window after exercise to begin properly recovering. Part of this is replenishing the glucose your muscles lost during your workout. In order to reduce cortisol levels while replenishing glucose, a combination of carbohydrates and protein is best. You don’t need a lot protein post-workout to build muscle or make gains. Combined with 10-20 grams of carbohydrate, 10-20 grams of protein will do the trick. A scoop of high-quality protein powder in your coffee, a cheese stick and a few crackers, 2 eggs and a piece of toast, all will do. You don’t need a lot of protein to get results, but you always need to replenish those carbohydrates.
Following these basic guidelines will help you get the most out of your workout. #getswole
Anyone else been feeling sluggish lately? What have you been doing to recover post-workout? Comment below!