Looking Your Best in Your Dress: Post-Workout Tips
You’ve got a million and a half things you’re juggling at once to get ready for your big day, and in the midst of it all you have to find time to get in a workout so you can look your best. Every day there’s something new that you didn’t consider the day before: the seating, the lighting, the music, the flowers, and so on – the list is endless. It’s a full time job squeezed into your already busy life, and with little time to waste, it’s more important than ever to make every rep count.
That’s why you should take your recovery seriously. After you work out, your body needs to rebuild.
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Getting up and exercising is only the beginning of the process, just as picking a venue and setting a date are the first steps leading up to “I do”. When you see the people at the gym who have the body that you want, there’s one thing you should know.
Their workout doesn’t end there, nor should yours. You should strive to maximize the potential benefits of the workout you’ve just put in. Don’t give into the junk food or the urge to over-indulge – as much as you’ve earned it, you owe your body a little more.
The only thing required is a little forethought and planning, which may seem like it just adds to the stress, but in the long-term you’ll be happy with the results. Here are a few post-workout steps you can take to make your workout work, so you can focus on what’s really important:
1. It only makes sense, use something up then put it back in. It’s a little more complex than that. You have to be aware of what you put in your body.
You are unique and so are your fitness goals, which should always be your primary consideration when refueling. A weightlifter needs to eat more to facilitate muscle recovery, in comparison to a casual runner trying to burn a few extra calories. Although, the one thing they share is the body’s need for proteins and carbohydrates during for recovery. Over the course of your workout your muscle tissue experiences micro trauma or small tears that your body depends on the essential amino acids in protein to repair, and carbs are your body’s preferred source of energy. You should find the right balance for you. A 1:1 ratio works well while you’re sweating for the wedding.
To recharge efficiently you should have a quick snack rich in macronutrients on hand after a workout. Prep time is negligible for a quick superfood-packed smoothie or a well-chosen trail mix. Here are a few high protein snacks that are great for recovery:
2. This one is a no-brainer. It’s practically a cliché, but with all over-used tropes comes an element of truth; it’s good advice. Hydrate! You should always be thinking about your liquid intake, however the period following a workout is critical because over the course of your workout your muscles become dehydrated, turning them into sponges for nutrients and water. You also use sweat to cool down, leading to the logical conclusion that you need to replenish the fluid you lost. Water works great for most workouts, but for more high-intensity workouts you’ll want to think about options with more electrolytes. Here are a few pointers from the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) on staying hydrated:
Before Exercise | 14-22 oz of fluid 2 hours before exercise
During Exercise | 6-12 oz of water or sports drink every 15-20 minutes of exercises
After Exercise | 16-24 oz of water or sports drink for every pound of body mass lost during exercise
Fruits can also play a big role in hydration like grapefruit and watermelon.
3. You don’t need to stretch before a workout. Actually, you really shouldn’t. Despite what you’ve been undoubtedly told, passive static stretching (PSS) is best saved for after a workout to relax them and increase blood flow, stimulating muscle repair and helping to prevent future injury. Make sure you target the areas that feel the tightest to get the best results.
Before your workout, try an active dynamic warm up (AD) that mimics and preps your targeted muscle groups for your planned workout.
Photo by Aaron and Jillian
4. The gym shouldn’t become an every day event. You need to give your body time to rest and recover to maximize the benefits of your workout. It’s almost as important as the workout itself.
Resting doesn’t equate to inactivity; you should scale your activity. You need to rest in between each day of workouts to be ready for the next round – five days on moderate to high intensity and two days off at low intensity, for example.
Alternating muscle groups in your daily workouts is another important form of rest.
Finally, get a good night’s sleep. Getting REM sleep helps your body produce growth hormones that repair damaged muscle tissue. 6-8 hours of sleep a night is the magic number to kick start your recovery and leave you looking your best on your wedding day.