Getting to the fitness center is the first step. Then you need to make it through the workout. That’s all you need to do to see results, right? Well, not exactly. What you do immediately after your workouts can also impact how quickly you recover, and the fitness results you see. Avoid these four common post-workout mistakes, and you’ll be sure to get the most out of your fitness gym sessions.
Mistake #1: Rehydrating only with water when you’ve dropped a lot of sweat.
Sweating is a sign we’re raising our body temperature and getting a good cardiovascular workout, but it also means we’re losing precious electrolytes like potassium and sodium. These are important for normal water exchange processes in our bodies that keep muscles from cramping and aid in recovery.
Some suggest drinking 16 to 24 ounces per pound of sweat, but you don’t have to bring the scale. Just make sure whatever you drink after a tough workout has some electrolytes. To maximize your results, avoid the sugary commercial beverages and stick with coconut water or milk.
Mistake #2: Not getting enough magnesium in your diet post-workout.
Magnesium is a nutrient most of us don’t get enough of — especially after a workout – and it’s crucial to muscle function and recovery. Some electrolyte or recovery beverages will have magnesium, but you can also get it by including foods like leafy green, dried fruit, avocado, nuts, seeds, beans, whole grains, fish, and yogurt in your post-workout meal.
Mistake #3: Not relaxing – both physically and mentally
Tough workouts tear your muscles apart – literally. The key time your body repairs itself and adapts to challenges by building stronger muscles is at night while you’re sleeping. Not getting enough sleep or doing too many hard workouts back-to-back will slow your recovery and improvement process and place you at high risk for an injury.
Mental rest is also important. Jumping on your cell phone to check your work email right after the treadmill or weight machines spikes your stress level, which contributes to inflammation and high cortisol levels – both of which hinder your health and fitness goals.
The best thing for your body and mind after a workout is rest and relaxation.
Mistake #4: Drinking a glass of red wine
You might think a glass of wine is a great way to relax, but after a workout, it might be a mistake. But wait – isn’t wine good for your health? Yes, most of the time. A study in the Journal of Physiology suggests that the antioxidants in wine can counteract the free radicals your body releases after strenuous physical activity. Free radicals are generally harmful to us (they’re responsible for the aging process) but, after a workout, they’re part of the equation that helps our muscles adapt to the challenges we’re giving them and gain strength and endurance.
Although the work you do at the fitness center is the most important thing you can do to improve your strength, endurance, and overall fitness, keeping these post-workout tips in mind can help you maximize your results, feel better, and stick with it until you reach your goals.