You might think fitness results are gained by hitting the weights room as hard and heavy as you can, but many experts say what you do after a workout is just as important as the effort you put in at the gym.
If you aren’t in the habit of following a post-workout routine, you might be struggling to see results. We spoke to personal trainer James Stirling (@london_fitness_guy) to find some of the major aftercare errors that could be hindering your progress.
1. Forgetting to rehydrate
We all know that getting enough H2O throughout the day is important, but it’s even more crucial after a heavy sweat. “During exercise, you lose vital minerals through sweat, so it’s really important to rehydrate and replace the water you’ve lost, not just immediately after a gym session, but throughout the day too,” says Stirling.
2. Not refuelling properly
Giving your body the fuel it needs to recover after a workout is also vital. “Making sure your post-exercise nutrition is appropriate is really important,” says Stirling. “So try to get a balanced portion of protein and carbohydrates. But if fat loss is your goal, it’s also important to be cautious not to over-consume, as this will outdo the calorie deficit you’ve created.”
Vigorous exercise also cause damage to the cells in your muscles, and refuelling with protein can help to enhance muscle mass, as well as repair damage.
“Ensure your protein consumption is high throughout the day to ensure recovery of the muscles,” advises Stirling. “Some people say you have to get it in immediately after exercise, but as a general rule, just make sure you’re getting a good protein intake throughout the day.”
Quality lean meat, fish, eggs, beans and legumes, and soy products like tofu, are all good sources of protein.
3. Not tracking your progress
Fitness is as much a mental game as it is a physical one, and tracking your gains in the gym can give you the motivation to keep going. Whether you’ve shaved 20 seconds off your personal best or have managed to lift your heaviest weight yet, hitting a personal milestone can be super satisfying.
“Taking a note of your progress, or how you felt during a session, is a great way of seeing how far you’ve come,” says Stirling.
“Sometimes just getting into the gym and completing a workout from start to finish is hard enough, so make sure to also reward yourself for the work you’ve done.”
4. Forgetting to stretch
Plenty of people skip stretching after their workout, but this is one of the most effective ways to minimise stiffness and aching in the days that follow.
“Stretching is so important,” says Stirling, “but it’s the one thing most people forget to do when they’re rushing off to the office from the gym.
“If you’ve done a workout and then you’re going to be sat at a desk all day, it’s probably best to try and stay as active as you can.”
Stirling suggests taking a walking break to stretch out the muscles – whether that’s taking a quick breath of fresh air or offering to do a tea round. Your body will thank you the day after.