Come back bigger, stronger and fresher after every session with these post-workout tips.
1. Chill out
Researchers recommend extreme temperature changes to repair damaged muscles, reduce swelling and flush out lactic acid. Try a five-minute jog or stretch, six minutes of alternating hot showers (37-43˚C) and ice baths, six minutes of cycling, walking or stretching at low intensity, finishing with a final chilly two-minute ice bath.
2. Aim high
Although low-GI foods help to maintain energy levels during the day, high-GI foods — such as white bread, watermelon and raisins — are best straight after exercise because they release glucose into the blood.
3. Protein power
Have a combination of protein and carbs within 30 minutes of your workout. “Carbs spike insulin levels in your blood, which shuttles protein into fatigued muscle cells,” says sports nutritionist Gavin Allinson. “Protein is essential for repairing these damaged muscle cells.” Studies recommend a carb/protein ratio of four to one.
4. Stretch it out
Stretch after a workout to improve muscles’ elasticity. “Maintaining a stretch for 30 seconds gives you the maximum length gains to reduce tightness,” says physio David Harris. It’ll also flush out waste products.
5. Pop your cherry
Er, we mean cherry juice, because it contains high levels of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds that enhance your recovery.
6. Get a rub-down
A post-exercise massage prevents delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). “Massage relieves tension and pain in muscles after weight training,” explains Harris.
7. Roll with it
Foam rollers are a useful self-massage tool. “Rollers can be used to loosen tightness in the iliotibial band, calves and quads and stretch out the spine,” says Harris.
8. Hit the H2O
“Your body needs extra water for two to three hours after exercise,” says Allinson. Researchers suggest drinking 1.2- 1.5 times the weight of fluid lost during exercise. Hit the scales before and after your session and drink the requisite amount.