Every workout is an accomplishment, but just because the workout is over doesn't mean the effort stops. A strategic recovery is necessary in order to see those gains you're after. Whether you're doing an intense HIIT circuit or something lighter like a yoga practice, taking time to nourish and reset your body afterward is essential to your overall fitness and health.
Our recovery tips ahead, organized by your prime focus, will help your body repair and build muscle, reduce soreness, boost energy levels, and, most importantly, prevent a dreaded fitness plateau. All it takes are some smart lifestyle tweaks!
Focusing on Joints
High-impact activities like tennis, running, squatting, and lunging can be harsh on your knees, ankles, shoulders, and other joints. To avoid pain and injury, it's important to listen to your body, slow down if you need to, and recover properly after exercise.
If you have a sore joint, ice is a great drug-free pain reliever. You can place an ice pack on the area for up to 20 minutes or take a dip in an ice bath to reduce all-over inflammation. Ice baths aid your recovery by changing the way blood and other fluids flow through your body, which can help you (and your tired muscles) bounce back quicker after a particularly intense workout.
It's also important not to skip your cooldown — however tempting it may be. Taking a few minutes for intentional stretching is worth it, and your body will thank you. For starters, stretching is a good way to relieve pain and tension while increasing flexibility, which can help improve your joint health over time. It can also increase the range of motion in your joints and increase blood flow to your muscles, reducing the risk of injury.
Focusing on Muscle
Muscle recovery — especially after strength training like Pilates or weightlifting — is essential to truly make your workout count. A huge part of that recovery is loading up on protein 30-60 minutes after you exercise. Whether you're on the go or at home, a quick and easy way to do that is with a protein shake.
Core Power® Protein Shakes are specifically designed to support your post-workout recovery. They're available in four delicious flavors (Chocolate, Vanilla, Banana, and Strawberry Banana) and only 170 calories with between five and seven grams of sugar. Most impressively, though, they contain a whopping 26 grams of high-quality protein, which is plenty for rebuilding muscle and adequately refueling your body. And you get all of that in conjunction with real, ultra-filtered milk without the use of artificial growth hormones.
Without the proper amount of protein, you won't see the results you're working so hard for. Why? After working out, your muscles are depleted of their stored forms of energy, which makes this period a prime — and important — time for your muscles to absorb nutrients. This jump-starts the repair process and strengthens your muscle tissue, which is crucial if you're after lean, toned muscles.
Focusing on Breath
Taking a moment to slow down and relax after a workout can do wonders for both your physical and mental health. Perhaps try meditation or some yoga flows to give your body time to calm itself after the constant movement you just put it through.
You'll want to take slow, deep breaths in and out of your nose in order to provide your muscles with oxygen and energy. Rather than breathing with your chest, try to drive the breath with your belly, while keeping your shoulders and chest relaxed. This is the best way to ease your body out of workout mode, because after exercising, your heart beats faster than usual, which raises your body temperature and dilates your blood vessels. This kind of breathing helps boost stamina while decreasing stress and blood pressure.
Self-care is also a big part of recovery that shouldn't be ignored. Sleep, watch a movie, take a salt bath — do whatever you have to do to de-stress. Because believe it or not, chronic stress can significantly impair your recovery, and so can inadequate sleep. Remember that self-care is essential, not selfish.
Focusing on Nutrition
Nourishing your body is important every day of the week, but right after a workout, it's particularly vital. Once you finish a kickboxing session, for example, you need to replenish your body with carbs, proteins, amino acids, and electrolytes. Core Power® Protein Shakes have you covered on all those fronts.
The lactose-free drinks are made using fairlife's patented cold-filtration system to concentrate the protein and some of the electrolytes naturally found in real milk. The end product has all nine essential amino acids and offers 26 grams of protein, nutrients, and electrolytes like sodium, potassium, and calcium.
A winning combo like that is exactly what you need to replenish your body for whatever comes next.
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Credits: Photographer: Cody Guilfoyle; Art Director: Meg Konigsburg; Prop Stylist: Catherine Pearson; Producer: Cassie Doyle; Associate Producer: Hannah Lee; Senior Designer: Kelly Millington; Editor: Kathleen Harper Owens