We all know that strength training will help you tone, but what many people tend to neglect is the after-care of their muscles. Recovering post-workout is a vital part of keeping muscles healthy and maintaining the long duration of an active lifestyle. I met with Kevin Symes, a certified athletic trainer, to get his tips on how to make the muscles work smarter.
- Cooldown: Cooling down properly is just as important as warming the body up. If you like an active cooldown, say walking or taking a light jog, your heart rate will be able to ease back to its natural state. At the same time, your body will begin to remove lactic acid, hence receiving more oxygen and reducing muscle stiffness. You also want to make sure stretching is part of your cooldown routine.
- Eat right: After a workout, it is crucial to fuel your body with protein. Protein will enhance the body's insulin sensitivity, making it easier to move sugar from the bloodstream into tissues like muscles. Aim to get a protein fix within 30 minutes of the end of your workout.
- Replace fluids: Since the body sweats more during a workout, a quick path to recovery is replacing those fluids. Make sure to drink water and, for more grueling workouts, choose a beverage with electrolyte enhancements. Since your muscles are nearly 75 percent water, this is an essential part of restoration.
- Take a break: Strength training is different than cardio. With cardio, you can almost always do it in some form every day. Strength training is most successful with breaks to allow the muscles time to reset. Start by giving the same muscle group one day off — or even two for beginners.