This article is made for those who are looking for a way to make their workouts more effective and improve their overall health by making better choices after a workout is finished.
At the minimum, you probably have been told that after a workout you need to eat a large meal with a lot of calories, right?
Well, there are several other choices you can and should make to get the most out of your workouts. The things you do after a workout can and should improve your muscle recovery, keep your body feeling fresh and prepare you for your next workout.
Check out my guide to what you should do after a workout:
A Guide to Things You Need to Do After Working Out
Here is a step by step guide to the decisions you should make after a workout:
Step 1: Cool Down Your Muscles
The first thing you should do after a workout is a proper cool-down for your muscles. Instead of completing your last exercise and heading for the changing room or the exit, using even 5-minutes for a cool-down can make a huge difference!
However, a full cool-down for your body should take about 10-15 minutes.
First, you should do some light and low-impact aerobic cardio. Riding a stationary bike or walking on the treadmill is a perfect option.
Next, you should do some self-massage.
Foam rolling or using another type of self-massage tool after a workout will help loosen your muscles so that they can circulate waste out, and bring in good nutrients.
Having a quality foam roller is a simple and affordable way to improve your muscle recovery after a workout, and help reduce the symptoms of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). If you would like to learn more about foam rolling, there are many guides about how to foam roll properly.
If you don’t like foam rolling, you could get a percussive therapy massage device such as the TheraGun like I have. However, these are expensive. Foam rollers are more affordable. If you don’t have a foam roller, here is a great option:
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The last part of your cool-down after a workout is some light static stretching.
Not only will skipping your stretching session have a negative impact on your muscle growth, but it will also increase your risk of injury and increase the likelihood you experience painful DOMS.
You can do a few simple stretches for the muscles you exercised on that day, or, if you have time, you can do some basic yoga. If you have the time, I highly suggest you incorporate yoga into your post-workout routine. You can do relaxing hatha yoga if you are only interested in stretching, or you can do a more intense yoga class such as the 21 Day Yoga Shred Program.
Regardless of whether you choose to do a full yoga session or just some specific stretches for the muscles you worked during your workout, stretching is a vital aspect of any good post-workout routine.
Step 2: Change Your Clothes and Take a Shower
After you have taken care of a proper cool-down after a workout, the next step is to change and take a shower.
Gym clothes are usually made with sturdy and moisture-absorbing material that is not breathable in the long run.
These clothes will trap sweat, oil, and dead skin cells, and those elements will rub into your skin non-stop after a workout if you don’t remove them as soon as possible. So, make sure to get out of your tight gym clothes as soon as you finish your workout.
If you can, use your gym’s locker room to shower and change. If not, get home to shower and change as quickly as possible to protect your skin.
After a workout, it is important to shower as quickly as possible because you must remove all the metabolic waste from your hair and skin that has just left your body, and at the same time respect the plight of other people’s noses that are around you the whole day!
And no, a lot of cologne is not the solution to this!
Sweat can make your skin break out if you don’t remove it right away. When sweat stays too long on your face and body, there are more chances for dirt and dead skin cells to penetrate your open pores.
If possible, take a contrast shower and wash away all the grime on your body.
It’s important to note that after a workout is the best time for shaving. Whether you need to shave your face or you want to trim pubic hair with your ideal trimmer, doing so after a workout is the best time because your pores will be open, and your hair will be softer. You can learn some more tips on how to shave at Manly Matters.
To maximize your routine, you can use Skinfood products for your face and body after your workout.
Step 3: Drink Water and Rehydrate
Not only is drinking enough water important if you want to get healthy and stay healthy, but it is also the main nutrient you should consume after a workout. Protein, carbs, and fats are necessary, but none of them are as important as drinking water for hydration.
Most people should drink 8-10 glasses of water per day to stay hydrated, and an amount of water greater than the amount you just sweated out is necessary after a workout.
Dehydration results in the increase of lactic acid in the muscles, which increases muscle soreness.
Although water is usually the best hydration drink, there are other options that are great for hydration as well such as aloe vera juice, coconut water, and herbal tea.
Step 4: Consume a Proper Post Workout Meal or Snack
Your goal should be to consume a proper post-workout meal within 2-hours of working out, but you can also consume a healthy post-workout snack as soon as possible after a workout to make sure your body begins the recovery process appropriately.
If you don’t have time for a full meal, at least make sure that you consume a snack that contains an adequate amount of protein and carbohydrates. Dietary fats are less necessary in the post-workout feeding period.
Personally, I like to make a post-workout smoothie after my workouts because it’s very easy to make a nutritious and delicious post-workout smoothie!
Many consider whey protein as the best post-workout supplement and best addition for their post-workout protein smoothies, however, I prefer vegan protein powder. My favorite option is Your Super Muscle Power.
A good post-workout smoothie will contain around 20 grams of protein (more or less depending on your body weight), as well as healthy complex carbohydrates and dietary fats.
Good post-workout protein shake ingredients include:
If you’re going to be making a lot of protein smoothies, make sure you invest in a quality blender. You can see this post at CookyMom.com to help you choose the best blenders under $100 for smoothies.
You can also drink a BCAA supplement such as Scivation Xtend or Genius Brand BCAA for a quick source of easily digestible amino acids, but protein smoothies are better because they contain whole foods contain a variety of additional micronutrients that are necessary for muscle recovery.
Regardless of whether you choose to opt for a post-workout smoothie or a complete meal after a workout, you must consume an adequate amount of calories and micronutrients each day, depending on your goals.
Step 5: Record and Keep Track of Your Progress
Although it’s not necessary, tracking your workouts is an important thing to do after a workout to make sure you are continuously making progress.
Whenever you look at your workout log book, you will be able to see how much progress you have been making and realize that your efforts have been worth it!
Step 6: Get a Good Night of Sleep
Assuming your day is done and you have consumed enough calories, micronutrients, and water to properly recover from your workout of the day, the last thing you need to do each day after a workout is getting a good night of sleep!
A good night of sleep allows your body to repair itself the exercise you did during your workout.
If you can, get 8-hours of sleep per night. At the minimum, make sure you are getting 7-hours of good sleep every night.
If you have trouble sleeping, there are several natural supplements you can use that promote healthy sleep. Taking zinc before bed, for example, will help promote a deeper and longer sleep, while also helping you lose weight overnight if that is one of your goals.
Although I recommend avoiding alcohol after a workout, drinking red wine before bed can also help you sleep better, assuming you only drink a moderate amount and you drink it at the correct time.
Regardless, make sure you get a good night of sleep after each workout!
Concluding Thoughts – What Are the Best Things to Do After a Workout
After a workout session is over, your job is not done. However, it’s not difficult to plan a proper post-workout routine!