Whether your goal is losing weight or building strength, recovery is an important part of any fitness routine. Proper recovery can not only reduce pain and prevent injuries, but it can also boost the results of your workout routine. And while simple rest is a good enough strategy, there are some things you can do to help your body recover faster and more effectively.
1 – Stay hydrated
Rehydrating after a workout isn’t a big challenge. If you work hard enough to break a sweat, you will probably be craving some fluids anyway. The trick here is to be mindful of your choice of fluid. Water is the cheapest and safest rehydration option out there, but if you want to be smarter about it, you can rehydrate using healthy drinks like coconut water or low-sugar sports drinks, both of which contain electrolytes that can prevent cramps and boost your recovery.
It’s also important to stay hydrated throughout your recovery, instead of just drinking loads of water immediately after you’re done. The body already requires a lot of water to work properly, and it’s going to need that water even more after a big workout. And don’t forget that both alcohol and caffeine can dehydrate you, so if you enjoy either or both that’s fine, but coffee and booze aren’t adequate replacements for water.
2 – Cool down properly
It’s tempting to stand still or sit down immediately after a tough workout, but that’s a bad idea. Staying still while your heart rate is still elevated puts unnecessary stress on your cardiovascular system — it’s best to keep moving and do some light activity while you wait for your heart rate to cool down. On top of being good for your health, this type of active cool-down process also helps your body recover more easily from the activity.
3 – Stretch (again)
Stretching at the end of your workout can improve flexibility, reduce discomfort, and improve your circulation, which helps the body start the recovery process. This second stretching session doesn’t have to be intense; the goal is simply to alleviate the tension you built throughout your workout. If you experienced nagging pains during your last recovery period, it’s a good idea to focus on those areas while doing this post-workout stretch.
This second stretching session is best done during the cool-down period after your workout before your body is fully cold. It’s both safer and more effective to stretch your body while it is still warm, so if you allow yourself to cool down completely, you’ll need to warm up before stretching.
4 – Watch what you eat
Your diet isn’t just important if you are trying to build muscle or lose weight. What you eat can have a direct impact on how well your body recovers from a workout. Namely, you’ll need plenty of protein and nutrients to fuel the recovery process. Substances that are rich in antioxidants like green tea and CBD dabs can also help with the recovery process.
Meanwhile, there are a variety of foods that can harm the recovery process by either not providing enough nutrients or slowing down your metabolism. Most foods that are full of fat and sugar — soft drinks, fast foods, salty snacks — fit this category and should be avoided.