What you do after and between your workouts is equally as important as the workout itself. Our bodies need time to rest and recover, otherwise we aren’t giving our bodies the time to repair the micro tears that actually create muscle. So grab your favorite recovery meal or drink, have a seat and let’s discuss how to best help our bodies recover.
Don’t Skip the Stretching
Stretching and flexibility are overlooked by a lot of men I know who are looking for “max gains”. Stretching for 20 minutes immediately after your workout is a great way to get it in, because it’s immediately on your mind. But why is it important when you’re interested in building muscle? First, it will help to ease muscle tension and may keep you from experiencing soreness the next day. It also will make sure your muscles and tendons are flexible enough to get into those deep squats you’ve been aiming for.
Active stretching and yoga also help the body with posture, alignment and balance. Taking a yoga class on an active recovery day is a great way to still engage your body and helps strengthen muscles that otherwise aren’t used in weightlifting, and improves your posture and body alignment to stave off soreness from poor posture. Adding yoga back into my routine helped with neck and shoulder issues I had been having for a while, and was a whole lot cheaper than seeing the chiropractor every week!
I’m not going to lie, every time I use a foam roller to roll out, the Ludacris song of the same name pops in my head for a second. I hadn’t ever rolled out before my boyfriend and I started living together, but it’s like a little mini massage after your work out. And the pops in my back I get feel heavenly!
Using a foam roller can help reduce muscle soreness and increases blood flow and oxygen to the muscles, helping with the repair and muscle building process. This mini massage also helps to increase flexibility and lengthen muscles, as well as increased range of motion. Some articles out there suggest that it also helps reduce cellulite by increasing blood flow to the area, but there isn’t much science to necessarily back this one up, as cellulite is a cause of weak or wider-linked connective tissue under the skin.
Fueling your Body
Don’t forget to refuel your body after your workout! Eating within a 60-minute window after your workout is ideal, with high quality protein and complex carbs (aka skip the white bread). One highly researched and easy solution? Chocolate milk. Seriously. Multiple studies show that chocolate milk has many of the minerals and vitamins needed to help athletes recover after a strenuous work out or game, and it’s easy and quick to grab from the corner store on the way home, if you’re in a pinch. And don’t forget to add back the water. Hydration is super important and will help minimize muscle cramping and post-workout muscle fatigue.
If you’re looking for supplement options, choose a high quality protein shake and a recovery drink supplement to help build muscle. Again, you’re looking for high quality BCAA’s for max muscle building and recovery. I really love TC Nutrition’s BCAA recovery drink in Fuzzy Peach. It’s not overly sweet, and I use it during and after my workout. If you’re questioning what to look for in a whey protein shake, check out this article for suggestions.
Don’t Skip the Self Care
Taking care of yourself is imperative to avoid burnout. Self care has been talked about a lot lately. So much, that it’s almost a buzzword that we skip over in the articles online and social media. But self care is important to reducing stress (see my last article for more stress relief tips!) and to post-workout recovery.
Take a Rest
Listen to what your body needs, and take care of yourself. If you’re feeling more fatigued or seeing reduced performance after a series of hard workouts, give yourself a little extra time to recover. Recovery isn’t lazy, it’s necessary.
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