Top 10 Ways To Recover After Exercise

In order to keep on training at a high level it is vital you allow your body enough time to recover from your training sessions.

As a personal trainer in Llanelli I have had many clients who come to me because they have become ‘stuck in a rut’ with their training and they’re no longer improving, a lot of the time they have managed to burn themselves out through training too much.

There are, as with everything many different views and opinions on the best ways to recover after exercise.

Here is my list of 10 of the most commonly used methods of recovery which I use myself and with my clients:

1.  Cool Down. A cool down can help to remove the lactic acid from your muscles, a cool down can also help to reduce muscles stiffness and return the muscles to their original length.

It is very tempting after finishing a tough session to just stop and not do anything else, very often is a cool down neglected. So rather than stopping completely it is important to perform a low intensity movement (walk or jog) for between 5-10 minutes, this will also help to return your heart rate to a normal level and you will feel better.

2. Replace Fluids. During exercise a lot of fluid is lost, ideally these fluids should be replaced during exercise, obviously you don’t want to drink too much during exercise so rehydrating yourself after exercise is an easy way to boost your recovery. Water supports every metabolic function and nutrient transfer in the body and having plenty of water will improve every bodily function.

3. Post Workout Food. When you exercise you deplete your energy stores, these then need to be refuelled in order to repair the damage done during the session. Your muscles repair and grow stronger during rest not exercise. This is even more important if you are performing cardio work day after day or trying to build muscle. Ideally, you should try to eat within 60 minutes of the end of your workout and make sure you include some high-quality protein and a small portion of quality carbohydrates. Steak, green veg and brown rice is a great post workout meal to have.

Immediately after exercise I would recommend eating a small piece of fruit. If you want to receive a free 7 day meal plan put your name and email into the box on the right.

4. Stretch Major Muscles.  Gentle stretching after a tough workout is a quick and effective way of helping your muscles recover quicker. Do static stretches and hold for between 30-60s for all of the major muscles worked during the session. I know it can be boring but you should include it in the cool down to aid your recovery.

5. Rest Yourself. When fully committed to an exercise routine some athletes hate the idea of resting and days off but rest is crucial to avoiding injury and enabling the best results in training. Your body is an amazing thing and the work that goes on between exercise sessions are unbelievable, so let them happen. Resting and waiting after a hard workout allows the repair and recovery process to happen at a natural pace. If you aren’t able to take days off between session just alternate your training so you aren’t doing the same thing over and over again e.g. Monday – strength, Tuesday – Cardio.

6. Perform Active Recovery. Like in a cool down or the other active recovery would come a day or two after intense exercise/competition. Easy, gentle movement improves circulation which helps promote nutrient and waste product transport throughout the body. In theory, this helps the muscles repair and refuel faster. Easy jogging, walking, cycling or swimming are good forms of active recovery.

7. Have a Massage. Massage is great for relaxation and to help improve the circulation to the muscles which repairs them faster. Massage is a regular part of most professional athlete’s routine and is very important in preventing injury, not just rehabilitation from injury. If you want to book a massage with me click here. Try foam rolling as a cheaper alternative to massage.

8. Take an Ice Bath. A lot of athletes use ice baths, ice massage or contrast water therapy (alternating hot and cold showers) to recover faster, reduce muscle soreness and prevent injury. What happens is that by repeatedly constricting and dilating blood vessels it helps to flush out waste products in the tissues. Although horrible at the start I find ice baths a great way to recover after exercise, just fill up your bath with cold water and jump in, don’t do it a cm at a time, that’s worse!

9. Get Lots of Sleep: During sleep many things happen in your body, everyone needs enough sleep to function properly, especially if you exercise. As you sleep your body produces a Growth Hormone (GH) which is largely responsible for tissue growth and repair during sleep. So make sure you are getting your 8 hours sleep a night in and let your body do the rest.

10. Avoid Overtraining. One simple way to recovery faster is by designing an effective, well thought out workout plan with well planned sessions. Too much training at every session without rest will ruin your fitness gains from exercise and won’t allow you to recover in time for the next session. Overtraining can lead to injury and burn out.

So trying to adopt many of these methods after exercise will hopefully get rid of all those aches and pains which can hamper your training and hold you back.

What methods do you use to recover from exercise? Let me know below.

Thanks for reading,

Jamie Stedman



Quinn, E. 06/0913 SPORTS MEDICINE 

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