5 Ways to Maximize the Benefits From Your Workout

by | Updated: October 18th, 2017 | Read time: 3 minutes

Post-workout rituals are just as important as the workout itself. Without one, you risk not being able to perform at your optimum level the next day. By cooling down properly, you’ll maximize the results you’re working to achieve.

As a fitness professional, there are five things I always do to maximize the benefits of my workouts that help me feel great. And, lucky for you, I’m sharing them all!

Woman Stretching After Workout to Maximize Benefits | Vitacost.com/Blog

1. Foam rolling

Start your post-workout routine with a restorative foam rolling session to help aid in muscle recovery. Doing this will help you achieve a deeper stretch (see step 2). Using a foam roller to perform self-myofascial techniques (a gentle continuous pressure on the muscles) may reduce soreness, prevent future injury, increase blood flow and circulation, along with improved flexibility. A foam rolling massage on the muscles helps to break up knots in soft tissue.

There’s also an added bonus! Another foam rolling benefit is that it’s a much more affordable option than frequent visits to a massage therapist. NOTE: Refrain from foam rolling for more than 20 minutes to avoid overworking an area.

2. Post-workout stretching

After a workout, when muscle are already warmed up, is the perfect time to stretch. Relieving muscle tension, decreasing soreness and improving your range of motion are all benefits reaped by stretching. Isometric stretching should be done to aid in the recovery process. After your workout, hold stretches for at least 15 seconds each. NOTE: Skipping out on stretching may hinder your range of motion for your next workout and cause injury.

3. Post-workout nutrition

Within 30-45 minutes after your workout, your body is looking for carbohydrates and protein to rebuild muscle and replenish glycogen. Healthy carbs help with recovery while a clean protein helps to repair and build muscle. Eating the correct nutrients shortly after exercising may help the body recover faster.

Aim for about 20 grams of a quality protein. Either whey or plant-based protein powders are a good choice because they are convenient and absorb rapidly in the body. Fast-acting clean carbohydrates (oatmeal, bananas) will help replenish glycogen levels, bring energy levels back up, along with bumping insulin levels up.

My typical post-workout meals usually consist of a homemade protein smoothie (blended with oatmeal and fruit) or a high-protein cereal sprinkled with protein powder, fruit and almond milk.

4. BCAA’s

Branched-chain amino acids (leucine, isoleucine and valine) are the essential three amino acids needed after a workout. Taking BCAA’s after a strenuous workout may assist in promoting muscle repair and growth, as well as reducing muscle soreness—this way you’re ready to go hard again the next day. The recommended serving, 3-5 grams, can be found in canned tuna, chicken, low fat Greek yogurt or in a convenient BCAA supplement.

5. Cool off

You don’t need to hop into an ice bath like a extreme athletes, but taking a cool shower after exercising may help decrease inflammation and speed up the healing process. Reducing inflammation may lower the chances of soreness the next day. Try turning down the shower temperature just slightly than normal and go from there.

Add a DIY coffee scrub with essential oils to help stimulate blood flow (and soften skin). NOTE: Before stepping into an ice-cold shower, let your body adjust before lowering the temperature.