Are you sabotaging your own progress with your post-workout routine?! Believe it or not, what you do after your workout is just as important as what you do during your workout. When I first started my fitness journey, I was inconsistent with my post-workout routine and in turn that lead to inconsistent results. I was unaware of it at the time, but I was slowly sabotaging almost everything I had just done in the gym. It took time, but I have finally come up with a post-workout routine that has worked for my body and may just work for you. Once I changed my routine after getting my sweat on, I began to see tremendous muscle growth and an increase in my strength. Below, I will share my top 5 post-workout habits I've seen the most progress with.
1. Stretching: Stretching AFTER your workout is one of the most important things you can do for your body. Stretching allows your muscles to recover properly. You will help to increase your flexibility and rotation of muscles. Stretching after a workout allows your body to cool down and aids in the prevention of muscle stiffness. By adding stretching into my post-workout routine, I have felt better the next day and wasn't left too sore to do another workout.
2. Post-workout Protein Shake: Finding the proper protein powder that I could fit into my routine after my workout was one of the toughest things for me. I have a sensitive stomach and a lot of whey protein powders seem to leave me feeling bloated or with a killer stomach ache. There was a lot of trial and error in testing new protein powders, followed by a lot of frustration and stomach aches. However, I have finally found the right protein powder for myself that I could enjoy post-workout. Yes... I said enjoy and protein powder in the same sentence. Most protein powders have strong, chalky, and a not so pleasant taste. But, don't let that defer you from a shake all together because there are good protein powders out there. Currently, I switch between powders because it works for my stomach and my muscle growth. I've been sticking to plant based protein "Amazing Grass" and bone-broth protein from "Ancient Nutrition." I will be posting a blog about protein as a whole within the upcoming weeks, so I am not going to go into too much detail here. It is important to remember that not everything will work for everyone. Test out different proteins and don't let one bad experience stop you from enhancing your workout and nourishing your body.
3. Hot, Hot, Hot Steamy Shower: Yes, I know that this might sound weird, but a hot shower is one of my post-workout rituals. No matter how sweaty I am, I make sure to cool down first if needed and then take a hot shower. The warm water helps the blood flow more to your skin. This will help with soreness, relaxing, and repairing the muscle. The steam helps to with breathing and ridding of stress on your body. There are times I will take a cold shower, but I have noticed that my body is able to relax and recharge a lot better after a hotter shower.
4. Re-Fuel with Protein Packed Food: After a sweaty workout, I find it is best to re-fuel your body with a meal that is HIGH in protein. Yes, you may have had a protein a shake after your workout, but FOOD FUELS. If I don't get in some sort of meal that is high in protein after I work out, I find that I am usually wiped out and lack any motivation to go on with my day or night. In the past, I used to think that a shake was enough, but boy was I wrong. Once I began re-fueling with protein packed meals, I started feeling 100 times better after my workout. I gained energy and motivation so get things done. I also began adding a lot more protein to my diet as a whole and its truly aided in my physical and MENTAL well-being. Fuel yourself with fatty and heavy food and the outcomes will be bloated, tiredness, and a lack of motivation. Fuel yourself with wholesome protein packed food and you will have a more positive outcome. Your meals do not have to be huge, it may even be a snack depending on the time of day you workout. Find a snack that is high in protein and that will be just as great! The goal is high protein and low sugar. Focus on what your giving your body to recharge. [ I do NOT count macros, but believe in moderation. Check out my other post about counting macros & living a healthy life!]
5. Track Progress: After I finish eating and am ready to truly relax, I track my progress. By "tracking my progress", I do not mean tracking or counting my calories. I am referring to my workout as a whole. I have found it very beneficial to track how I am doing and how I have been doing. I go into my workouts with certain exercises I want to complete. However, not all plans go how they should and other factors of life can get in the way. If the gym is crowded, a machine or piece of equipment may be occupied. That being said, I might not get to do each exercise I want to and may swap in something else. To avoid repeating exercises throughout my week or to see if I go up in weight with a repeated exercise, I like to write down what I did. I add the weight and amount of reps completed, mainly as a form of motivation and to see my progress throughout this journey. As many of you know, I have a fitness account on Instagram. This was the first way that I began tracking my progress. Videos and pictures truly allow for a visual form of progress, but writing down some things has also been beneficial to me. Sometimes, paper and pencil may be all you need to motivate yourself. Find what works for you and run with it because this is YOUR journey and YOU control the outcome.