You've just got done cranking out 40 hard minutes on your new Miami elliptical, and now it’s time to rest. What should you do now to recover as quickly as possible? What should you eat? Your post workout behavior can make a big difference when it comes to optimizing your efforts. Let’s see what works best for reloading your body.
Post-Workout Stretching – Good Or Bad?
Stretching after exercise might not be as beneficial as you think. Post-exercise stretching might actually decrease muscle blood flow. The better strategy is to apply heat or cold to the muscles after working out, according to Dr. William A. Sands of the National Strength and Conditioning Association.
Dr. Sands also recommends mild exercise to cool down. You can go with an easy setting at low incline on an elliptical. In fact, you don’t even have to get off the machine since you can make adjustments on the fly on machines like the Islamorada or the Tour de France indoor cycle. So once you finish your workout, you can cool down while still on the machine. Then comes the best part of recovery – eating.
First of all, drink plenty of water after exercise. Sixteen ounces of water within the first hour post-workout is a good rule of thumb. If you are still thirsty, drink more.
When you exercise, your muscles get broken down. The first 30-60 minutes after your workout is critical since your body is primed to absorb nutrients rebuild muscle. The food you eat should be easily digestible and protein rich. Protein in the form of a soy milk based smoothie is a great choice. You can add in fruit, like strawberries or blueberries, to get some extra antioxidant benefits. Yogurt is also rich in protein and easy to consume post workout. If you mix it with oatmeal, you will get the second critical post-workout component, carbohydrates.
If you are going to cook, the lean chicken or fish with long grain rice will make a perfect post elliptical session meal. An even better strategy is to prep the meal beforehand and heat it up to eat after you finish training.
Hot-Cold Alternating Showers
If you are willing to stand the discomfort, you can try this technique which was published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport. Basically you run the shower cold for 30 seconds then hot for two minutes and repeat this three or four times. This practice could decrease your blood lactate concentration and heart rate. Lactate is the substance that causes your muscles to burn when you exercise intensely.
Even though the research was not conclusive when it came to sprinting performance, many athletes swear by this technique to reduce muscle soreness.
Rest & Sleep
One of the most overlooked aspects of post exercise care is proper rest. Many rush through workouts and then rush through their lives on little sleep and less rest. One of the best ways to stay fit and lose weight is plenty of sleep. This is because your body needs rest to work efficiently. Ideally you should get around 7-8 hours of sleep per night. Also, try to go to bed and get up at the same time as this prevents insomnia.
Also, if your exercise routine is very intense, make sure you schedule in one week every 1-2 months where you decrease the intensity a notch or two. You might go for less time or less distance on the treadmill during that week for example. This gives your body long term recovery time which pays off with improved performance when you return to full intensity training.
When you are on you’re an elliptical, like the Sanibel i35, go all-out with your workout. When your training is finished, make sure you take good care of your body so your next workout is even more effective.