Building and maintaining healthy habits is key to living the fitness lifestyle and getting the results you want from your transformation challenge.
Oftentimes, we focus on what foods we should eat before training, getting enough sleep, or what’s the best pre workout supplement to take, and while all of those are important, there’s one facet of the fit life that often gets neglected -- what to do immediately after your workout.
What you do following a workout can have big ramifications on your recovery as well as your ability to perform the next time you hit the gym.
Here, we discuss 8 pitfalls commonly made by gym rats after their workout is over.
8 Worst Things to do After a Resistance-Training Workout
#1 Doing Excessive Cardio
Let’s be clear about something. Cardio isn’t bad it’s actually very healthy for your cardiovascular system, and it can improve your ability to recover between sets of heavy lifting.
However, where cardio goes “bad” is when individuals perform prolonged bouts of cardio immediately before or after their resistance-training workouts. This can lead to the “interference effect” whereby the chronic cardio impairs your body’s ability to recover, build muscle, and grow stronger.
Doing 20-30 minutes of cardio after your resistance training is fine, but a better solution would be to separate your cardio workouts from your resistance training workouts by at least 5-6 hours or perform them on separate days.
#2 Waiting Too Long to Eat
Nutrient timing is a practice utilized by top-tier athletes across the globe.
Basically, it entails consuming certain nutrients at certain times and in certain amounts to improve performance and/or recovery.
Following an intense workout, glycogen stores are low and your muscles are screaming for amino acids to support the recovery and growth processes.
Waiting too long to eat after your workout slows your body’s ability to recover and can hinder growth.
Now, how soon you need to eat after training depends on how long your workout was and how long before your workout you last ate.
The longer your workout is, and/or the farther away you had your pre workout meal from training, the sooner you need to get in that post-workout meal.
Now, if you ate immediately before training, and only did a short workout, eating immediately after you set down the weights isn’t as critical.
Still, a good practice though is to get some type of high-quality protein and carbohydrates in your system within 60 minutes of finishing your workout.
#3 Avoid “Fast” Carbs
Building on the previous point, carbohydrates play a key role in facilitating recovery after training.
Following a hard workout, glycogen stores are depleted and insulin sensitivity is high, which is the perfect opportunity to indulge in some fast-digesting carbohydrates.
Typically fast digesting carbs are frowned upon due to the fact that they are typically refined and low in fiber and micronutrients. However, what this fast-digesting, high glycemic index (GI) carbs are ideal for is getting into the bloodstream quickly after a workout and helping shore up those depleted glycogen stores.
Some of our favorite post workout carbohydrates are white rice, bagels, bread, and breakfast cereals. Another stellar option is 1UP Nutrition Tri-Carb which contains a blend of three fast-digesting carbs that support recovery and glycogen replenishment. You can also mix it with a scoop of 1UP Whey Protein for the ultimate fast-digesting post workout meal.
#4 Skipping Your Cool Down
After your workout is complete, it can be tempting to head straight for the showers or to your car to get on with the rest of your day.
However, it’s good practice to spend a few minutes cooling down and stretching after your workout.
This helps calm down the nervous system (which was just working overtime) and elongate muscles that just spent a considerable amount of time in a tensed position. Stretching may help prevent cramping and soreness later on as well as promote recovery.
#5 Losing Your Whey
We touched on this briefly in point #3, but its importance bears mentioning again.
When it comes to post workout protein sources, there’s none better than whey protein.
The reason for this is that whey protein is a complete protein that is rich in amino acids (especially BCAAs) and is also digested very rapidly.
This is exactly what you want in a post workout protein.
The faster digesting a protein is, the quicker it gets through your GI system, and the sooner its amino acids can be transported into the bloodstream where they can then be absorbed and utilized by your muscle cells to repair damage and grow stronger.
#6 Consuming Too Many Fats
Similar to cardio, dietary fats are not inherently bad. In fact, they’re quite beneficial for you, not to mention essential.
This issue is with the quantity and timing of dietary fats.
You see, fat is high in calories and it slows digestion. It also does little to promote muscle recovery or glycogen replenishment.
As such, you really don’t want to be consuming a ton of fat immediately post workout. Consuming too much fat can delay the digestion of carbohydrates and protein -- both of which your body needs immediately following training.
#7 Missing Sleep
The four pillars of getting the results you want are diet, training, stress management, and sleep.
Without any one of these, the rate at which you get the results you so desperately seek will slow to a crawl.
Sleep is the time when the body does the brunt of its recovery and growth. Without sufficient sleep, recovery is impaired as is your motivation and ability to perform in forthcoming training sessions.
Basically, all that hard work you’re doing in the gym and the kitchen isn’t doing as much good as it possibly could if you’re not getting enough sleep each and every night.
Make it a goal to get at least seven hours of sleep every night.
#8 Skipping Supplements
As we just said, the four pillars to success with any fitness goal are diet, training, stress management, and sleep.
Supplements are not required to build muscle, gain strength, lose fat, or get results, but they can make the process considerably more efficient.
Key supplements to include post workouts that can help boost recovery and muscle growth include, fast-digesting carbs (1UP Tri-Carb), whey protein, and creatine.
Other possibilities to include in your post workouts supplement stack are amino acids (EAAs/BCAAs) and Glutamine.