You may have a good routine set for yourself when it comes to going to the gym. That’s great. However, that is not the full battle. The rest of the battle happens in that short time after your workout.
Yes, much of the battle for your dream body comes in the gym and in the kitchen, but there is also a small, but extremely significant battle that happens between the gym and the kitchen.
You want to set yourself up for the next workout after you have finished one workout. You do not want to just end the workout and go about the rest of your day without preparing yourself.
Certain things you do and don’t do can actually harm your progress and maybe make you take a few steps back when it comes to your body.
Not Cooling Down
“I know that I’m running out of time”
Something I truly believe that a good 90% of people don’t do enough of after a workout is cool their bodies down. I’m definitely guilty of it. Cooling down needs to be a part of any workout routine. You don’t need to spend 30 minutes after your workout cooling down, but it would be beneficial to get at least 10 minutes in.
Allowing yourself the time to properly cool down will allow your heart rate and blood pressure to return to normal. Without a proper cool down your body could start having venous pooling (which is the accumulation of blood in your veins).
You also won’t be feeling your heartbeat all the way up in your throat. It’s a little scary when you aren’t moving around much but you can feel your heart racing for what seems like no apparent reason.
You can help yourself get rid of that feeling of your limbs being like jello after a workout. Personally, I hate this feeling. That feeling of not being able to move your arms or legs. Every movement is a bit of a struggle. If you are already sore here are ways to help get rid of that soreness.
Cooling down definitely helps you feel looser. You may not get rid of all the soreness the next day, but you will not be anywhere near as stiff as you might have been.
“And I’m wishing they’d stop tryna turn me off”
Something to add in immediately after a cool down is 5 minutes of stretching, maybe not even 5 minutes. Just some kind of stretching. Again, I would say that a vast majority of people neglect to stretch at all.
It’s understandable. Who wants to spend a little extra time after a workout stretching? Once you get done with a workout, you want to get up and get home. That little bit of extra stretching just seems a little tedious, but it should still be done.
Stretch the body parts that you have just worked. This will help get out any lactic acid that has been built up in your muscles over the course of the workout. Lactic Acid isn’t all bad for you. Here’s an article that sheds more light on the subject of lactic acid.
When you workout, your muscles are constantly being contracted. Stretching them will help them elongate so that they will be able to recover faster. Your muscles will be able to rebuild properly. When your muscles are contracted they aren’t able to recover in the best way possible. Stretching just allows you to get that much more after a workout.
“And I’m walking on a wire, trying to go higher”
Eating after a workout is one of the most important things you should do. Try to refuel no more than an hour after working out. The quicker you’re able to get something in your body after the workout, the better.
I’m not saying that you should go to the nearest fast food place you can find and get something from there, but you need to find something that is packed with protein and carbs.
The protein will help with building your muscles and the carbs will help you regain a lot of that energy you lost during the workout.
Even if you aren’t hungry, you should really try to get something done. A small snack will do just fine. Peanut butter would be perfect. This article explains in a little more detail about eating after a workout.
Not Hydrating Properly
“Just like fire, burning up the way”
During any workout, you are going to lose electrolytes and fluids. That’s inevitable. You have to remember to get these electrolytes and fluids back in your body, though.
You should be constantly hydrating yourself during your workout, but you should really put this hydrating into overdrive after a workout. You have always lost more than you think during a workout so don’t think that having a glass of water is going to help you after the workout. You are going to need at least a few glasses of water.
Being dehydrated is very dangerous. You can seriously cause some damage to your body when you are not hydrated. If you’ve ever been hungover, then you know what a little slight dehydration feels like.
Dehydration after a workout definitely feels a lot worse. You start to get a headache, you are extremely thirsty, you start to feel dizzy, and probably start feeling a little nauseous. That is a combination that nobody wants. If you get to this point, you need to go to a hospital right away.
Having any of these symptoms after a workout is a sign that you need to start drinking water. You don’t want to deter yourself from wanting to workout again just because you didn’t do what was necessary after a workout and you feel like shit.
If you have a question about how hydrated you are, you should look at your pee, also known as urine. The darker it is, the more water you should drink. The lighter it is, the more hydrated you are. If you are peeing and it is clear, congratulations, you are about as hydrated as you can get.
Too Quick To The Sports Drinks
“Watch this madness, colorful charade”
As delicious as they are and how awesome some of their commercials are, sports drinks should not be the first thing you turn to after a workout.
They are marketed to make you think that they are the best post workout drinks, but it’s not true. Most sports drinks contain a lot of sugar and not enough good carbs. They are also very high in calories so you are basically putting back a lot of what you just lost, in your body again.
When you start drinking this as a “thirst quencher” you are more likely to consume more than you actually need. These drinks contain salt and this is only going to make you want to drink more. You may never truly quench your thirst when you continue to drink sports drinks.
Yes, they give you back electrolytes and some of the carbs you need, but they are tricking you into thinking you need more than you actually do. You aren’t getting any necessary protein from a regular sports drink and because of the amount of sugar in most of them, you are missing out on even more electrolytes than you should.
If you really want to have a sports drink, you should mix it with water. That way, you are getting more hydrated and cutting out a lot more sugar.
Not Keeping Track Of Your Progress
“No one can be just like me any way”
This one probably isn’t as important as the other ones only because you can get away with this and not hinder your progress very much. It can still hurt you, though.
You should be recording your progress on an almost daily basis. It can be slightly embarrassing when you go to the gym after a few weeks of working out, you are about to start an exercise, but you are unsure of what weight you should be using because you haven’t remembered anything. This can easily be erased if you had just recorded everything.
When you workout, you should want to know your progression over time. You aren’t going to improve if you keep lifting the same weight day after day. The only way to get better is to know what you’ve done in the past and try to improve on what you did.
Doing this will also keep you motivated. It’s such a good feeling when you see that you are beating your previous best, whatever it may be.
You will also be able to see where you are struggling with your workouts. It allows you to see if you should maybe switch things up in certain areas of your workout. You may notice that you aren’t necessarily improving in some areas, having this recorded will allow you to see it and you can notice this a lot easier and quicker.
Not Getting Proper Rest
“And no matter the weather, we can do it better”
You may be one of those people that love going to the gym at night when it is mostly empty. Nothing is wrong with that. A lot of times, you may get back home and not be able to sleep right away and you end up having to wake up early the next day.
After working out, it’s important to give your body the rest it needs. Your body does the most recovery while you’re sleeping. Not getting proper sleep means that your body hasn’t made a full recovery. When you don’t allow for a full recovery, you just break your body down even more when you workout again. This continues to happen until you are able to make a full recovery.
Sleeping releases hormones in your body that allow your broken down muscles to recover faster. Getting the proper amount of sleep, recommended at least 8 hours, will help you optimize everything you did earlier in the day.
Don’t Hall-Ass It
“If I can light the world up for just one day”
If you feel as though going to the gym is the only way you’ll get to reach your goals, you’re wrong. You need to do much more.
Don’t sell yourself short by fighting only half the battle. Fully commit to the change you want to make. Focus on what you’re doing immediately after a workout.
When you do the right things, good things will happen. Prepare your body to be the best it can be. The big changes happen in the little details.
Little changes always add up to make the biggest difference, so you should make these little changes so you get the best results possible.
P.S. – The quotes in this article are from “Just Like Fire” by Pink