1. You’re Not Eating
When I get the question, “what I should eat after I workout?” I usually follow up by asking, “What are you eating now?” More times than not, the answer to my follow up is NOTHING. So if you’re in that camp, I’m going to need you to eat something! Pick something with a moderate amount of carbs to replace lost energy and a healthy balance of fat and protein to rebuild torn down muscle cells. Your window to eat is about 2 hours, but I recommend having something as soon as possible.
2. You’re Not Cooling Down
All that work you’re doing creates different byproducts in the body. You have extra fluid in the muscles, pieces of cells, and other byproducts from energy making. If you’re going straight from the gym floor to the locker room, getting into your street clothes, and hopping in the car, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Perform a low level activity after your workout to help remove those byproducts from your muscle cells. This will aid in your post workout recovery.
3. You’re Not Drinking (Water That Is)
Heck! Most of you aren’t even drinking enough water during your daily life, much less after a workout. Please stay hydrated before, during, and AFTER your exercise session. This aids in that post workout recovery we talked about before by flushing out byproducts. It also keeps you hydrated and alive to go hard the next day. Look to get about 16 to 20 ounces of water after your workout. Also remember that water is just fine if your activity was less than an hour. Most activities do not require a sports drink to replace electrolytes. Use sport drinks only for long term endurance bouts lasting over an hour or so. Yep, I'm drinking the haterade!
4. You’re Not Stretching
Much like drinking water, many folks aren’t doing a thing to help their flexibility. Warm muscles are stretchable muscles and stretchable muscles are a lot more fun to stretch. Take advantage of those warm muscles and spend some time working on your flexibility. Flexibility plays a role in enhancing your overall performance. Spend 10 minutes at the end of the session cooling down and stretching. Hold each stretch between 15-30 seconds and repeat them at least 2 times.
5. You’re Eating Too Much
Eating too much after a workout is 2nd to not eating enough, but it is an issue. Especially for those looking to lose weight. Remember that your 30-minute walk did not burn the equivalent of a Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese. It probably didn’t even take care of the small fries that you had with it. There are plenty of reliable equations out there to estimate calorie burn during a workout, but none can be trusted completely. Shoot for the low side on your estimates and keep your post workout meal balanced and healthy.