If you’ve ever been to the gym, you know there are a lot of things you should and shouldn’t do to get the most out of your workout. Whether it’s making sure you’re doing exercises right or even just wearing the correct shoes, there are so many things you need to be aware of as you work out. What about after you get off the treadmill, though? What should you be doing after you put that last weight down and head to the locker room?
To get the most from your workouts and prevent injuries in the future, be sure to follow this checklist of do’s and don’ts for your post-workout routines.
DO cool down
Cooling down is just as important as warming up. If you’ve just run three miles and you immediately get off the treadmill and head to the showers, you risk soreness tomorrow and injuries in the future. Gradually lower your speed until you’re at a light jog, then go slower and walk for a few minutes. You’ll be thankful you spent the extra time to slow your body down.
DON’T forget to stretch
After you’ve sufficiently cooled down, stretching is essential. It’ll help your muscles in the repairing process and allow you to really get the most out of your workout. Additionally, as with cooling down, stretching is a great way to avoid being sore in the days after your workout.
DO drink water
You’ve just biked five miles and you’re completely drenched in sweat. Make sure you drink some water! Your body needs to replenish itself, and the last thing you want is to become dehydrated as you continue with your day. A general consensus among sports doctors and researchers is that approximately three cups of water is the appropriate amount for your post-workout drink. If you feel like you need more electrolytes, try coconut water. It tends to be much more natural than energy drinks and is popular because it can rehydrate better, without the sugar crash…which brings me to the next tip.
DON’T drink sugary energy drinks
Sports drinks may have some really gritty, sexy commercials, but the truth is, their products are full of sugar. That’s not the kind of energy you want or need after you’ve just worked your butt off. Water should always be your go-to, but if it seems lackluster or you’re in the mood for something different, try coconut water.
DO eat or drink protein.
When you work out, you’re actually making little tears in your muscles. When these tears are repaired, it causes the muscles to get larger and stronger (hence, muscles are built). Eating protein after a workout, preferably with some form of carbs, will keep your energy up and help your muscles recover properly.
DON’T load up on unhealthy food.
Sure, we’ve all heard that your metabolism is faster after exercising, but that doesn’t mean you should be eating McDonald’s or a big bowl of pasta right after you get back to your apartment. Even if you don’t like protein shakes or bars, there are lots of high-protein foods you can make a meal out of, such as eggs, quinoa, and salmon. If you’re looking for more of a snack, try almonds or Greek yogurt.
DO shower immediately after working out.
Not only does a shower feel refreshing and relaxing, staying sweaty and in moist clothes can be really bad for your skin, so you should shower within 20-30 minutes of working out. Staying in your gym clothes can led to yeast infections or acne. Also, you’ll be nice and smelly after hitting the gym, and nobody likes B.O. Do yourself and everyone around you a favor and make sure to get clean!
DON’T touch your face before washing your hands.
We’d all like to ignore the germs that are sure to live at a gym. Between people who neglect to clean the equipment after they’re done using it, to the cloths we use that have been absorbing sweat and bacteria all day, it’s best not to actively think about cleanliness the gym. That is why it is so important to wash your hands after you’re done exercising. Touching your face before you do so could lead to acne and give you a cold or some other sickness. With midterms around the corner, nobody wants that.
DO get plenty of sleep.
You need to give your body time to recover from the distance you just ran or the weight you just lifted. Sleeping is so important when it comes to getting the most out of your workout. It’s when your muscles rebuild themselves and get stronger. Additionally, getting enough sleep will make sure you’re refreshed and ready for tomorrow’s workout!