If you’re a serious lifter, then you’re likely doing everything you can to maximize your time in the gym. However, are you paying just as much attention to your post workout routine? Too often gym goers spend a ton of time trying to perfect every minute detail of their training, yet their post workout routine still includes double cheeseburgers, beer, and staying up way too late. This article will give you 7 ideas you can use to improve your gains after you leave the gym.
Do Post Workout Cardio and Stretching
Too many trainees finish the last set of their last exercise, put their weight away, then walk out of the gym. This is a great way to let your muscles shorten and stiffen over time. A good post workout routine would actually begin at the very end of your workout. One good idea is to do a few minutes of slow, steady state cardio to decrease your heart rate to normal levels.
Static stretching can help maintain and increase flexibility, as well as promote recovery. However, it should only be done when the body is warm and core temperature elevated. This makes it virtually ideal for the end of your workout. Regardless of what you trained that day, do a short static stretching routine to target the entire body – especially the hips and shoulders.
Baths and Showers aren’t Just for Getting Clean
Epsom salt baths are widely used to facilitate recovery. Stick one or two cups of epsom salts in a full tub, let dissolve, then soak in it for at least 15 minutes. Contrast showers have also shown to help recovery, too. Alternate 30-60 seconds hot water with 30-60 seconds cold water for 10 rounds or so. While taking these showers can be taken after training, many still get great benefit taking them later in the day or even the next morning.
Take a Pre-Bedtime Cold Shower
While some like cold showers first thing in the morning, many feel they’re better used prior to going to bed. The body’s core temperature lowers during sleep, and taking an ice cold shower prior to getting into bed can speed up that process. This can lead to you falling asleep quicker and sleeping more soundly.
More Sleep = More Recovery
You know that getting more sleep is the best way to maximize your recovery. Maybe your schedule won’t let you go to bed an hour earlier or get up an hour later, but maybe you can add a quick nap to your post workout routine. Even something as short of 15-20 minutes could give you enough time to drop down into a cycle of REM sleep, which is when the body undergoes the most important recovery processes.
Don’t Forget the Post Workout Shake
For many, the cornerstone of their post workout routine is their post workout shake. Consuming one containing 25g or more of both protein and carbs, as well as at least 5g each of glutamine and BCAAs is largely considered a requirement if you’re serious about your training. However, if you can’t consume a post workout shake, try to eat a protein and carb rich meal within an hour of training.
Continually Work Your Mobility
Mobility is something you want to work on nearly every day, if possible. Doing a short routine of a few drills will not only ensure your range of motion and ability to perform at the most extreme points of it, but will help promote recovery, too. There aren’t necessarily any movements you have to include, but here’s a list of ones you could choose from:
- Foam roll the IT band and/or adductors
- Rollovers into v-sits
- Fire hydrant circles
- Mountain climbers
- Cossack squats
- Rear foot elevated hip flexor stretch
- Wall slides
- Downward dog hold into a regular pushup
Drink Plenty of Water
Drinking water immediately after your workout is over is critical as this is when rehydration is most important. It can be easy to put the water to one side as you may already be drinking your post workout shake or drinking a different beverage with your post workout meal. However, ensure you don’t let this decrease your water intake. Keep that water bottle handy.
You don’t have to include all of these pointers into your post workout routine, but the the more you can, the better. You’ll not only recover better and in turn, improve workout progress, but you’ll feel better, too.