There is that great feeling you get when you are in beast mode during a workout, and then there is that other feeling. You know the one — the “I’m not sure I can even get up the stairs” tired feeling that reminds you how hard you worked. Whether you focused on high-intensity interval training, ran a marathon or beat your own best at the gym, brutal workouts take a bit of recovery time. Consider some of our favorite ways to get you there faster.
Go Get You Some Carbs
Brutal exercise requires recovery nutrition and carbs. There is a physical response to serious workouts that has anabolic properties — that’s the muscles breaking down and building up stronger. Go for heavy carbs and about 25 to 50 grams of protein to fuel the repair.
While you are thinking post-workout nutrition, don’t forget your electrolytes, especially potassium. Snack on a banana or some mashed potatoes to help revitalize your muscles. Avoid dairy products after a workout. They can promote inflammation, which is exactly what you don’t want right now.
If you are doing it right – you drank plenty of water before and during the workout – afterward, you’ll want to increase the intake even more. During a brutal routine, you might lose as much as 3 to 4 percent of your body weight in water, so take the time to replenish it.
Learn the Art of Active Recovery
This tip is good for rest days, too. Take time to relax and let your muscles recover. Now that doesn’t necessarily mean plopping your backside on the couch. Some gentle movement promotes circulation and helps move the waste products generated out. Take a slow, meaningful walk or relaxing bike ride. You’ve earned it.
Believe it or not, a big part of your workout is mental, so give your brain a minute to relax, too. You don’t have to do anything fancy like burn incense or chant; just close your eyes for a few minutes and think about a place where you feel calm.
If you are really achy, an ice bath is something to consider. It’s a pretty straightforward concept. Cold reduces inflammation and less swelling means faster muscle recovery. Of course, it’s a bit extreme but you might be surprised how good it feels. It doesn’t take much. Fill the tub with cool water, throw in a few ice cubes, and soak for 10 minutes. You’ll feel a new kind of refreshed if you do.
Brutal workouts are the best of both worlds. You feel fabulous afterward, but you feel less than that at the same time. Create a post-workout routine that improves recovery, so you can move on with your day.