Photo: By English: Sgt. Russell Gilchrest, U.S. Army (www.defense.gov) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
4 Things You Must Do After Every Gym Workout
You’ve put in the hard work already, you’ve sweated it out and got some strength training in, but you’re not quite done. Following these four things can help you recover more quickly from your workout so that you maximize your results and safely prepare your body for your next workout.
1. Eat and drink. You don’t need to go crazy and drink a monster protein shake or a Thanksgiving sized meal after every workout, but you do need to get some glycogen and protein back into your muscles within one hour so that they can recover and re-build themselves. If you did a heavy strength day, lean more towards protein rich foods (chicken breasts, green peas, hard boiled eggs, full fat dairy if you can tolerate it) and if you focused on cardio, reach for some dense carbs (roasted sweet potatoes, beets, turnips, parsnips). Fruit (fructose) is processed differently by your body than other carb sources, so it’s fine to eat a banana or apple post-workout, but supplement it with a small amount of the above nutrient sources.
2. Roll it out. Get out your foam roller and get to work. Your workout is over, but for overall recovery, it’s crucial to log some time on the foam roller performing self myo-fascial release. The term just means you are doing self-massage on your muscles and connective tissues. Foam rolling increases circulation, flexibility, and restores muscle length. It also helps reduce trigger points and adhesions that form in the muscles due to overuse. There are some great videos online if you need a technique refresher, or keep an eye out for one of our upcoming foam rolling workshops here in Oakland.
3. Log your progress. There’s an app for that. Track your workouts on your phone, build a simple spreadsheet you can update on your laptop, or go old-school and write down what you did in a small paper journal. This will help you track patterns, keep motivated, and monitor your improvement.
4. Check-in with your body. Ask yourself whether you need a rest day soon. Consistent workouts are good, overtraining is bad. Symptoms that you are doing too much include: depression, fatigue, decreased desire to begin a workout, sluggishness, and irritability. Since we have so many other stressors (work deadlines, family pressures, etc) in addition to our workouts, it’s a good idea to re-visit this question after every workout. One week we might feel awesome doing 7 intense workouts, and the next week we could be dragging through 3 basic sessions. Checking in regularly (and honestly) is the key to maintaining your long term fitness while sustaining your mental health.
Doing these four things will increase your motivation to workout as well as your overall results. We are here to support you in your health and fitness goals, if you have any niggling injuries that aren’t resolving with ice, stretching, or foam rolling, we can help by providing chiropractic adjustments and Active Release Techniques. To book a consultation or appointment with your Oakland chiropractor, please call (510) 465-2342.