We’ve already talked about hacking your workout, but what comes next? Do you have good habits in place to cool down afterwards?
Having a good post-workout routine is extremely important, especially if you’ve just done a strenuous workout. A proper cool-down will help your body return gradually to a period of rest, prevent dizziness, and prepare you for your next workout.
Cool down: Rather than abruptly head to the showers as soon as your workout is over, take the time to cool down your muscles.
TIP: Do this by continuing your workout at an easy pace for 5-10% of your workout time. This helps flush out lactic acid and brings your heart rate down, keeping you feeling great.
Stretch: Stretching helps prevent your muscles from contracting and reduces muscle soreness. Whatever you do, make sure you don’t over-do it – stretching too much, to the point where it’s painful, does more harm than good – and keep a routine that you can jump right into after each workout. With a routine, you ensure you won’t skip out on stretching certain muscles.
TIP: Stretch out essential muscles you used during your workout, or better yet, use a muscle roller to help break up tightness.
Re-fuel: The average person mostly just needs to make sure they drink plenty of water and eat a balanced diet. But for more extreme athletes who participate in intense, lengthy workouts, it’s important for muscle recovery to refuel to replace glycogen levels. For tips on how to best re-fuel, we turned to Ultramarathon Man Dean Karnazes for his routine:
My post-workout routine consists of rehydrating, either with water or with electrolyte replacement fluid by adding a capsule of Nuun. Then I look to replace depleted glycogen stores by consuming carbohydrates, typically with fruits like bananas, berries and oranges. I might add some Greek-style yogurt to boost protein levels if the workout has been particularly strenuous.
And lastly, don’t forget to warm up: Take some time before your workout to warm up your muscles. We asked Fitbit employee and triathlete Mike to share his warm up routine:
No matter what sport or exercise I’m doing, I start at an easy pace and incorporate small segments of varying intensity to get things warmed up. I have a pretty standard routine for each sport I do that I just come back to each time, which makes it pretty efficient. The length depends on the length of the workout. This ensures your muscles are ready to go and helps prevent injury.