Not sure what to do after a workout, besides leave the gym? Make sure you aren’t making these post workout mistakes.
You just got done with a 30 minute HIIT workout. Your muscles are exhausted but you are feeling that after workout high. You leave the gym (or in my case, the garage) and…..now what? I could give you a list a mile long of what good post workout habits you could do, but this list is just about what not to do after a workout. Because really, you don’t want to sabotage all the hard work you just put in.
Don’t wait too long to eat protein.
If you are doing any type of weight lifting, or any form of exercise that exerts your muscles (push ups, lunges, etc.), then your body will be craving carbs and protein when you are finished. When you lift weights you are breaking down the muscle tissue. Your muscles need protein to build themselves back up bigger and stronger. No protein = wimpy muscles. I try to eat around 20-24 grams of protein post workout so my body is properly fueled and my muscles can begin the repair process. If you need some ideas on what to eat after a workout, make sure you read my post on healthy post workout snacks.
Don’t drink alcohol
Wah wah. Here comes Tiffany, the fun police. I know, I know, it’s the end of the day, you just finished a great workout and all you want to go home and have a beer or glass of wine with dinner. But wait! After you workout, your metabolism is in hyper-drive; meaning even though you stopped exercising your body is continuing to burn calories at a higher rate (except with cardio, once you stop running your body slows calorie burn…but that’s a story for a different post). This is called the afterburn effect. The minute that alcohol hits your system your metabolism stops. Well, it doesn’t stop, but it slooooows itself down to a snails pace, and all that hard work you just put in is lost. If you really want to enjoy a drink after a workout, wait a few hours (at least) to let your body burn those additional calories.
Don’t eat junk food
Ugh I don’t understand how people can go eat a cookie or cupcake or doughnut or McDonald’s cheeseburger, you name it, after a workout! Our bodies needs HEALTHY foods to fuel them and replenish what was burned during the workout. The last thing you should want to do is stuff your mouth full of a bunch of crap! If you are one of those people, you need to cut the “I just earned this” mindset. That’s probably why you aren’t meeting your weight loss goals in the first place (I’ll step down off my podium now). But please, just STOP!
Don’t forget to stretch and foam roll
Soooo many people think you only need to stretch before working out. And while yes, a proper warm up does include some form of dynamic stretching (don’t just do toe touches), it’s super important to stretch after you workout as well. When you exercise, lactic acid builds up in your muscles. This is what causes cramping, soreness and muscle fatigue. Stretching after a workout helps release some of the lactic acid from your muscles, leading to less soreness post-workout. Stretching also helps those muscles that may have become tight during your workout loosen up a bit. It’s also a great time to clear your mind and recenter yourself before you go about your day.
And OMG you guys I LOVE foam rolling. If you don’t have a foam roller or Tiger Tail (get one, it’s amazing) I highly recommend you purchase one right away. Foam rolling, or self-myofascial release, is like an at home massage for your body. It helps release tight muscles and trigger points. And yes, it can hurt sometimes; especially on sore muscles. But the benefits are amazing. It’s also great to foam roll before a workout to help release the tension on your fascia. We have this foam roller and it still works great after 4 years. Plus, if you have a sore back it helps stretch your muscles and release some of the tension. I use it every morning and it hurts so good!What not to do after a workout: these tips are awesome! Click To Tweet
It’s not a lot to remember but it’s so important to remember these things after a workout. I feel like people get so caught up in the “I work out every day but I’m not seeing results” mindset, that they forget about what their doing to their bodies the other 23 hours of the day. If you want to see results, you need to put in the work; and it’s more than just 30 minutes of cardio a day or 30 minutes of bicep curls. It’s a complete mindset shift and putting your health higher on your priority list.
And I know everyone gets busy around the holidays, but it’s even more important for you to think about your health during this next month. Don’t wait until the new year to focus on YOU. Start now and you’ll be better off for it.
Question of the day: What is something healthy that you like to do after you workout?
I’m so glad you shared this– so much good information. I’m trying to be more intentional about getting more protein & stretching after working out. I never crave anything healthy, aside from after a really good workout- so I guess that’s one thing I have going for me, lol.
You had me scared with the alcohol! But I work out in the mornings, so I’m safe for a nice glass of wine or three! And yes to foam rolling. It makes such a big difference when I roll for my muscle repair!
I’m never hungry after a work out and struggle to eat and then 3 hours later I’m ravenous and can eat an ocean’s worth 🙁
Great tips! I remember when I put a picture on Instagram of me riding an exercise bike while eating an ice cream sandwich… lol – made your skin crawl.
I know I’m not good with stretching afterwards. I should work on that.
Foam rollers hurt so good! Man that’s one of my favorite things about a post-run. On that note – we’re joining a gym and I’m super pumped about it. I think I’m the world’s worst about the protein thing. I need to work on that!
These are such awesome tips! My husband loves getting his muscles rolled, but we usually just use our rolling pin from the kitchen! I think I might have to get him a foam roller for Christmas! Thanks for the idea!