Next time you are finished at the gym, run through this list when you get home and make sure you’re doing everything you’re supposed to so you can make the most of your workouts:
Ask yourself how you feel – When your workout is over, take a few minutes to assess how you feel in that moment. Are you tired (physically and or mentally), sore, in a good mood, bad mood? Do you feel proud and excited by what you just did, or are just happy to have it done with? If we want to be able to make progress in our workouts, we have to assess what is and isn’t working for us. If you are never sore or satisfied after your workout, maybe you need to change things up a bit. Or if your workout just leaves you feeling sad and discouraged, maybe you need ot back off a bit. Whatever the case, assess how you feel after a workout and adjust accordingly.
Do some stretches – Dynamic or static, do 5-8 minutes of stretching after your workout to let your muscles slowly cool down and to prevent injury or stiffness for the next time. This can be in the form of a series of independent stretches, or as a yoga sequence or some pilates. Whatever works for you is great, just be sure to do it consistently.
Hydrate – Drink some water! And if it was a particularly hard workout, drink more water. Unless you were working out and sweating a lot for a long time, you don’t need to drink any special sports drinks – they are just extra calories that you just worked to burn off. If you did have a sweaty session, it was extra long, or it is extra hot outside, refuel with coconut water to build up your electrolytes, and steer clear of bright coloured sports drinks.
What’s next? – It’s important not ot let your workouts get stagnant or boring, or to stop challenging our bodies. Once you do the same workout enough, your body gets good at it and it becomes more efficient. This is why you stop getting sore, and more than that, you won’t burn as many calories any more. Instead, mix up your workouts and routines to keep your body challenged and to continue to reach new goals in your fitness.
Refuel – even if you are exercising to lose weight, refueling post workout is so important. If you burn calories and breakdown your muscles, when the body goes to start that repair process, it needs fuel to use to do so. If there isn’t any (i.e. if you don’t eat after your workout), your body will think the muscle exertion is a bad thing and that your body is under stress and you need to conserve calories. Therefore, it will hold onto your fat as this energy source and you won’t see any results from your work.
Schedule your next workout – While the feeling of success and satisfaction is fresh in your mind, look ahead to tomorrow or the next few days and figure out when you can workout again. Schedule it in, make it a priority and then make it happen. Tomorrow when you don’t feel like working out or are tempted to skip it, think back to the feeling you have right now and how great it was. Now go get it again!
Get some rest – Just as important as eating after a workout to aid in recovery, is sleeping to aid in recovery. Why do you think you’re often the most sore when you wake up the next day? Because your muscles have had a chance to relax and start the recovery process, and in so doing have becomes sore from the stress you exerted on them. Soreness is a good thing – it shows that you are working your body hard enough to see results. Just make sure you get enough rest to make sure those results appear!