Man stretching after workout

The Post-Exercise Mistakes that could be Ruining your Workout Goals

If you’re currently pounding pavements or throwing some iron around the gym in search of your fitness goals, there might be a good reason why you’re struggling to reach them. Post-workout habits are much more important than you might think and if what you do after your training sessions isn’t as well considered as what you do during then you need to reassess. But what are the post-workout mistakes you need to avoid? We enlisted some expert help in the form of Kate Leiper, Trainer at Sweat It for her top tips.

1. Number one has to be forgetting to hydrate after you have finished your workout. For all of your bodily functions (including muscle repair, growth, protein synthesis) to work efficiently you need to replenish your water supply.

2. Avoiding carbohydrates. In my opinion, the most important thing to eat Post-Workout is Carbohydrate! All exercise uses carbs for energy and this makes our muscles hungry. After a muscle-carb depletion is created during the workout… THEY MUST BE FED. Otherwise, that pump you feel from smashing the workout will disappear because your muscles do not have the right resources to grow and repair.

3. Not consuming enough protein. Talking of growth and repair, it is essential you consume adequate amounts of protein. It’s not just a hype, it is super important for muscle growth and repair. There’s no denying it – science tells us so. However, you don’t have to neck a shake or inhale some chicken as soon as you’ve finished working out, just make sure you get a good amount (roughly 15-30g) of protein in your next meal.

4. Rushing to eat. This one is slightly more “holistic” than you’ll see in a lot of muscle mags. After a workout our body is obviously in a “stressed state”. Digesting food in this state can be more difficult for the body as it is focusing its energy on vital organs, homeostasis and lots more. Not being able to digest things as easily means your body will not be able to make the most of the fuel you’re feeding it. So wait, if you can, until you’ve showered, chilled out, drunk some water, chilled out some more. Then you can sit down to eat and enjoy your Carb and Protein banquet.

5. Tucking into fats. Fats are digested slowly (which is why they make you feel fuller for longer), but this also means they basically get in the way of other functions, for example, the absorption of protein and carbs. As I’ve said, post workout we want maximum absorption of proteins and carbs so that our muscles get what they need. So, don’t be letting those fats get in the way.

6. Reaching straight for the caffeine. This one is up for debate but in my opinion, after you’ve put your body through the stress of a workout and released a tonne of cortisol, the last thing you want is to spike those cortisol levels again. This ties in with the last point – let your body relax and recover after a workout – don’t put it under more unnecessary stress by drinking a stimulant straight after!

7. Forgetting to stretch. Adding to the previous points – this speeds up your post-workout chill. You’re forced to stop, to breathe and do something calming. Tense muscles are not only an effect of stress but can also be a cause of it too, so we want to release that tension. Also, we need to stretch for the more conventional reasons such as, it enhances blood flow allowing your muscles access to the oxygen and nutrients they need, it gets rid of lactic acid and lengthens muscles that have been shortened during the workout. This will decrease the possibility of injury and muscle soreness – both of which could negatively affect your fitness regime.

Kate Leiper is a Trainer at brand new boutique fitness concept Sweat It. For more info visit the website: www.sweat-it.com

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