What is your post workout routine?
Drop the bar for your last rep, coach calls time, you lay on the floor breathing heavily for a couple moments, go around and high five your classmates, put your bar away, go get changed and head home or back to work.
Getting better at exercise isn’t just about doing exercise. A big part of getting better is determined by how you recover. Taking care of your body after you exercise will help you obtain your goals in the gym. To get the most out of your recovery, immediately after your workout, you must cool down, nourish and hydrate the body, as well as mobilize. This is why doing the good old Dine and Dash method of training doesn't work. So let's paint a better picture.
Active Recovery/ Cool Down
Over the course of the past hour you have been working out and creating a great amount of small muscle tears and built up a lot of lactic waste. So it’s important to flush this out. By that, I mean running through quality range of motion to help bring the heart rate down. It is important to remember is to stay moving. A couple options would be to bike or Row, find an active mobility routine that works for you, whether that's a combo of lateral squats, scap rotations or another sequence. THE FOCUS IS TO STAY MOVING
Nutrition and Hydration
I’m not going to sit here and tell you to drink chocolate milk, that’s bogus. There are a couple things you need to consider when coming up with a post workout meal, because everyone is different. Similar to day to day nutrition, some factors to take into account are gender, weight, height, activity factor, body fat, etc. These factors will determine the quantity of your food.
When it comes to the quality of your food, a source of Protein and Carbohydrate are crucial. Protein, is in charge of building and creating tissues, therefore having protein post workout will help start the repair of broken down muscle.
Mobility and Maintenance
What is your mobility goal? What movement gives you the most trouble? What limited you during that workout? Answer those questions, pick a mobilization and do it for 5-10 minutes after your active recovery.
Couple things to consider is to always mobilize in the position of restriction, as well, tacking the tissue down and moving it through full range of motion. Moving the joint into a position and spending two or more minutes there will help promote change in the soft tissue. Making those movements more achievable.
Let’s take a movement like a front squat for example.There is a lot of mobility required by different joints. You are taking the abduction of the hips to push the knees out, the extension of the thoracic spine to keep the chest up, the external rotation of the shoulder and flexion of elbow to maintain a good front position. In other words, knees out, chest up and elbows high.
Mobilizing in the position of restriction could look something like sitting in the bottom of a squat, with a band pulling your hips forward. This is very effective as it will expose where your tension is the most, in most cases it will be found in the anterior hip.
The other effective technique is to pin tissue you down and get it moving. This could look something like pinning a lacrosse ball against an upright and then mashing your pecs while moving your arm over your head and behind your back. This will help with shoulder extension and flexion as a lot of shoulder issues are caused by tension in the pecs.
Having the knowledge to do these things is one thing, actually taking the step and committing to make this a daily routine is a different story. Which is why having strategies to keep you accountable play such a big factor in determining if your meet your goals. Doing things like having a “post workout checklist” consisting of your cool down, nutrition and mobility. Or having a training partner to make sure you do your cool down and they do theirs. Find a way to make this work for you, ask questions and talk to coaches.