Wednesday, July 29, 2015

6 Things You Should Never Do After a Workout

post workout
You just finished that last rep, knocked out that last mile, or completely exhausted yourself busting out pull-ups to failure. Now, you want nothing more than to collapse on the couch, have a bagel, and veg out. It’s self-rewarding, in a way, and if things are done in the correct sequence, you’ll be relaxing in no time.

But there is a list of no-nos that you’re going to need to keep in mind, because ignoring certain precautions can all but negate the success you just had at the gym, or leave you in a bad spot when getting ready to come back the next day.

We’ve already covered exercises that you should avoid, and injuries that are extremely common among fitness fanatics. Now, we’re getting back to bossing you around — by telling you what you should absolutely not do after you finish your workout. If you want to make sure you’re properly nourishing and building your body, you want to avoid these common mistakes. They’re easy traps and habits to fall into, so be vigilant.

So, to be clear, do these things after the workout. Not the following six items. Read on to see what they are.

protein shake and banana
1. Eat the wrong thing
You just burned a bunch of calories, so you deserve a treat, right? Well, maybe. But that doesn’t mean you should go pig out on a bunch of garbage. In fact, you should aim to give your body what it needs — not necessarily what your brain is telling you that you want.

The list of foods to avoid is long, and includes candy, pastries, fast food — pretty much anything that common sense would tell you to avoid. What you should be eating are things with plenty of fiber and protein, as well as vitamins and minerals to help your body rebuild. So, skip the donuts, and have a protein shake and a banana.

2. Linger
Gym newbies, this one’s for you: Don’t be that guy.

You know, the guy who’s done working out, but won’t get the hell out of the way. He’s a lingerer. He lingers.

Once you’ve knocked out your routine, head to the locker room, go cool down, or get a protein shake — just don’t keep moping around, getting in the way, and even worse, sitting on machines or equipment that people are trying to use. You might be waiting for your buddy to finish up, but you can still find something to keep you occupied away from the action.

3. Skip the cool down
We’ve written previously about the importance of the cool down after a workout. It doesn’t need to be anything extravagant; just a way to slowly crank the proverbial dial back from eleven, and get your heart gradually back down to a resting level. That can mean doing some simple yoga moves, stretching, using a foam roll, or even just taking it easy on the treadmill for ten or fifteen minutes. This will help you prevent too much lactic acid buildup, and get you ready for the next workout in short order by reducing recovery time.

drink water to reydrate
4. Grab a Gatorade
With so many flavors of Gatorade, Powerade, and all other kinds of energy and sports drinks, developing the habit of having one after your workout is easy to fall into. Here’s some advice: Go for water instead.

Though drinks like Gatorade and Powerade are marketed as being healthy and containing good amounts of body-enriching minerals and whatnot, they’re also loaded with sugar (14 grams in an original 20-ounce bottle of Gatorade) — which means that they’re packed with calories. Yes, your body needs salt and vitamins post-workout, but there are better ways to nourish yourself. So avoid these drinks, and just stick to water to rehydrate yourself.

5. Hanging out in your workout clothes
See the picture above? Gross, right? You may not come off the weight room floor or treadmill looking like this, exactly, but you’re still likely to be covered in sweat. And  you’ll need to get those sweaty clothes off of you before they dry up and get really nasty.

This is really about proper hygiene. If you don’t get out of your sweaty clothes, you can end up with a nasty, and gross, skin infection. We’re talking yeast infections, acne, and all manners of other gross stuff. So get changed and showered, and allow your skin to breathe unhindered. Everyone you live with will thank you.

track your progress
6. Forget to reflect and recap
Reflecting on your workout may not be something you grew up learning to do. But if you really want to see gains, and track your progress, then it’s essential. Whether you’re using a fitness application, Fitbit or Apple Watch, or even just a plain old pen and paper, take a look at whether you hit your goals. Where did you falter? What do you want to achieve tomorrow, or the next day? These are the questions you should be kicking around in preparation for the next workout.

Of course, you can also check out your progression as well, using spreadsheets or chart-making software. There’s nothing more reassuring than hard data telling you you’re making strides, even if you may feel like you’ve had an off-week.

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