You just put in a hard hour at the gym. You’re sweaty and a little gross, but more than that, you’re proud of the effort you put in.
Now it’s time to call it a day and relax. After all, you’ve earned it! Well, not so fast.
If you’re going directly from the gym to the couch, you could be making some serious errors that negate the gains of your workout or even increase your chances of sustaining an injury.
Your post-workout routine is just as important as how you prepare before a workout.
Here are seven of the worst things to do post workout.
1. Failing To Cool Down
After an hour or more of hard training, the last thing you’ll likely want to do is spend any more time in the gym. But there’s a reason why experts tell you to cool down before going on with your day.
After your workout, your body is under a great deal of stress. Going from 100 to zero in a matter of minutes won’t do your body any favors, despite what you may think.
Take a few minutes to slow your run into a walk or allow yourself a quick breather after lifting to give your body time to adjust. Your body undergoes a ton of changes during a workout and needs time to readjust.
Failing to give yourself a proper cooldown could send your body into shock, or at the very least, result in some sore muscles due to lactic acid buildup.
2. Not Stretching
Admittedly, there’s a great deal of debate surrounding our next topic. Health experts are at odds over whether or not stretching post-workout, has any major effect on your performance at all.
While studies are ongoing, experts agree that if you’re serious about your athleticism or hope to go professional someday, stretching can help you retain muscle elasticity.
Indeed, if you’re looking to run faster or harder, opting into a post-workout stretch can reduce soreness and improve flexibility to make your next workout even better.
3. Grabbing A Sugary Drink
Though sports drinks are often marketed toward those who live an active lifestyle, it’s important to note that it’s just that — marketing.
Gatorade and Powerade are two of the worst offenders. You’ve probably seen the ads or heard the stories about the drink’s invention.
While it did start out as an easy way to replenish lost electrolytes in athletes, today’s sports drinks feature far more sugar than the original recipe, causing dehydrating and decreasing performance.
A 32 oz Gatorade contains 54.4 grams of sugar — more than the FDA’s recommended amount. For reference, that’s more than half the amount of sugar you’ll find in a 32 oz Mountain Dew.
There is some good to sports drinks, however. Though they’re chock full of sugars, most sports beverages contain nitrates, carbohydrates, and electrolytes that replace what we sweat out during a workout.
But, unfortunately, the bad outweighs the good in this case. You’re better off sticking with good old H20 or a post-workout supplement for rehydration and a quick pick-me-up.
4. Going From Gym To Couch
When you return home from your workout, the first thing you probably want to do is plop on the couch and take a nap.
But for the sake of yourself and those around you, it’s best to take a shower beforehand.
Staying dirty gym clothes not only makes you a social pariah, but it can also permeate your furniture and do some serious damage. The oils from your skin can easily soak into the fabrics of your couch or bed, leaving a putrid stench or even staining your furniture.
So please, for the good of yourself, your friends and family, and even your furniture, hit the shower before taking some much-deserved R&R.
5. Eating The Wrong Snacks
A good, healthy snack is a fantastic treat after a workout. What’s more, snacking post-workout is also a fantastic way to replenish lost calories as well as proteins and carbs.
But you are what you eat, so think carefully before you ruin your progress with that slice of pizza.
Instead of negating your progress with a post-workout snack, opt for a healthier, nutritious alternative soon after your workout. Post-workout supplements are a great way to give your body an extra boost, as are protein-based snacks.
Peanut butter, chocolate milk, oatmeal, and chicken or fish are some of the best choices.
Though they’re delicious, avoid sugary or processed snacks like chips or soda. They’re empty calories and won’t do your body any good.
6. Resting On The Equipment
Okay, so this mistake won’t ruin any of your progress, but it will get you a lot of angry side-eye at the gym. Most gyms have at least one person that does this, and if you’ve ever experienced it, you know how annoying it can be.
We’re not talking about taking a quick breather once you’ve done a few reps. That’s normal and even expected.
We’re talking about spending using a piece of equipment like your own personal chair and holding up others’ workouts.
Once you’re finished with a piece of equipment, clean it, set it back to default, and move on. We promise your fellow gym-goers will appreciate it.
7. Using Your Workout As An Excuse
So you’ve done everything right so far and now you get to be a couch potato for the rest of the day. You may even treat yourself to a post-workout pizza!
No harm, no foul, right?
A lot of people falsely believe that because they went to the gym that day, they have free reign to be inactive or eat poorly. Again, you’re only sabotaging your own efforts here.
Hitting the gym on a regular basis is a great way to move toward a healthier lifestyle. But that healthy lifestyle needs to include more than a trip to the gym a few times a week.
Avoid These Post-Workout Fails At All Cost
If you’re guilty of these post-workout mistakes, you’re not alone. Most people commit one or more of these gym-based sins.
We’re not here to chastise or embarrass anyone, but to help you get the most out of your workouts. So take what you’ve learned today and use it better your post-workout rituals.
And be sure to check out our reviews guide to help you choose the best gear and supplements. Whether you’re looking for better gains or want to lose a few pounds, we have the advice that can help.
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