Many women rightfully devote a lot of time to the exercise portion of their fitness routine, but then neglect the vital workout recovery time. It is perhaps the least talked about aspect of a workout routine, but it is highly important for effective training. Proper recovery will help to prevent injuries and will assist in healing your body so that you are ready for your next workout. We often see men chugging protein shakes after their workouts, but do we need to do that too? The truth is that workout recovery means more than just downing a drink or shake. The following tips will help you to speed up your recovery time and ultimately see greater fitness progress.
Most of us already know that we should cool down at the end of our cardiovascular workouts. However, we should also be sure to cool down after weight training. Tossing the weights down and just walking out the door will do nothing to speed up your recovery time. No matter what type of exercise you are doing, a cool down is simply the 5 to 10 minute time period where you slow down. You shouldn't stop moving completely, but instead you should continue to exercise at a very low intensity as your heart rate slowly lowers. Cooling down in this way helps to remove lactic acid and will reduce muscle stiffness.
The perfect time to stretch is right after your cool down. Your muscles will still be warm which will allow you to attain deeper stretches with less fear of pulling something. This will also help to remove lactic acid and will lessen soreness and increase flexibility. It can be tempting to skip this part of the workout, but it really only takes about 5 to 7 minutes and will make your body feel so much better.
After a really vigorous workout, your body needs to refuel with carbohydrates and protein. Experts say that your body needs both to replenish energy and to build and repair muscle. Protein is especially important to consume within 30 minutes of exercise as that is when muscles are most sensitive to nutrient intake. So, there is some truth to those protein shakes, but unless you are a hardcore athlete you can usually just refuel with regular healthy food.
In addition to proper carbohydrate and protein intake, you also need to replenish your body's fluids. Be sure to sip water during your workouts and then drink a good amount afterwards. This will help to keep your energy up and your body hydrated. Sports drinks can sometimes be beneficial after a really intense workout when you need to replenish electrolytes. You should be careful though as drinking too many can add unnecessary calories.
The most vital aspect to any recovery plan is rest. Without some down time your body will not be able to heal itself. Try to plan your workouts for the same time everyday so you have a nice gap where your body can rest. You should especially be sure to get an adequate amount of sleep. Every woman's sleep needs are different. However, most require around 6 to 8 hours of quality sleep.
Not following a basic post workout recovery routine can quickly lead to fatigue and overtraining. After all, we are working out not only for our health, but also to see results. If your body becomes worn down, progress will slow down and then it is easy to get frustrated. Be sure to listen to your body and take breaks if you need to so that you can continue to reach your fitness goals.
Nicole Lancaster is an avid runner who loves the outdoors. When not training for marathons she enjoys reading up on current events and hanging out with friends. She currently runs a weight loss blog for women entitled The Better Weight