1. Stretch & foam roll
While our heart rates have been pumping through the roof while working out, stretching helps to bring our heart rate back to normal. Plus it helps the body to cool down too!
When our muscles are still tense post-workout, stretching helps to loosen it up, whilst keeping the muscles flexible, toned and healthy.
Muscle soreness and inflammation can lead to decreased range of motion, so foam rolling is another great way to enhance our recovery. Foam rollings helps to release the tension for deeper muscles by increasing blood flow, thus avoiding unnecessary injuries.
Whether it’s a chest day or leg day, foam rolling can target specific muscles that we’ve worked on that day. It can be done in as little as 10 minutes! By moving through each muscle group by rolling for about 30 to 45 seconds focusing on any knots.
For beginners who never tried foam rolling before, opt out for the smooth roller as it’s less intense and easier to use. You can gradually move on to textured rollers if needed!
Foam rolling is really effective in lessening the recovery time for myofascial release. It’s a very affordable alternative to massages, and feels just as good!
2. Take a cold shower
After a session in the gym, the first thing that we’d normally seek is the shower! To get rid of the sweat, plus to get out of our smelly gym clothes. But apart from hygienic purpose and smelling nice, showering really helps in muscle recovery, specifically cold showers!
Athletes usually bathe in ice water right after their sessions to reduce inflammation, flush the lactic acid out and help with muscle soreness. While we don’t need to soak ourselves in ice, research shows that by reducing the water temperature during a shower does have regenerative properties in helping the muscle to relax and recover.
3. Hydrate & eat
It’s crucial to drink water even before, during and after a workout to reduce soreness, cramps and fatigue.
Our body can lose more than a quarter of fluids after an hour of exercises through sweat, which can lead to dehydration, so it’s very important to drink enough water!
In order to replenish our energy after the workout, eating a proper meal can improve and speed up our recovery. Experts believe that within 3 hours after a workout is a prime time as it’s when our body will, specifically carbs and protein to rebuild those muscles.
Depending on your fitness level, if you don’t refuel after workout you might feel disoriented from low blood sugar.
This doesn’t give you the ticket to stuff yourself with cakes, fast food and all the simple sugary post-workout shakes or energy bars! Simple rules from research shows that women should benefit from a palm of protein, fist of veggies and a cup of carbs.
To simplify, it shouldn’t be any different than your normal healthy meals – a simple spinach omelet with some avo or even a tuna salad sandwich should be sufficient. Quality of the food should always be your priority, but remember to avoid heavily processed foods.
4. Light cardio (Active recovery rest)
It’s not always a good idea to go hard every single day in the gym.
Smart programming allows you to have ample rest and a day for low-intensity activities, giving our body the opportunity to recover properly after an intense workout.
Active recovery rest can last anywhere between 15 to 40 minutes. Light cardio activities such as walking, swimming, light jogging on the treadmill, cycling and yoga helps aid in muscle soreness. They too help speed up the recovery process by increasing our blood flow without putting heavy tension on our muscles and joints while it heals.
5. Rest & sleep
Less is more, even though sometimes we feel like we have more left in the tank.
Resting today to come back stronger tomorrow might be the hardest thing to do when you’re a gym bunny.
Indulge in self care! Sleep! Catch a movie! Cuddle and spoon on the bed with your loved one! Do anything that can help you wind down and relax for that deep sleep because that’s when the magic happens. Our growth hormones are released at that time, aiding in fat burning, muscle growth and improving athletic performance. Make it a priority to sleep early for 7 to 9 hours to reap the benefits of our next workout.