5 Things to Do Immediately Following Your Gym Session

woman drinking water
It is not only how well you prepare for your daily exercise session, but how you recover post-workout that helps you meet your goals.

by Lindsay Tigar

Believe it or not, how you recover post-workout is just as important as how you prepare for an exercise session. Taking the time to cool down and focus on tight muscles can play a vital role in meeting your goals!

To make the most of your fitness routine, it is important to establish a process that aids your body in recovery and prepares you to tackle another sprint, jog, or set of pushups during your next gym visit. Mastering a few effective post-workout habits can also help you build muscle and avoid injury.

Curious to learn more? Here are five things that can help you recover after your workout.

1. Stretch

When to do it: While your muscles are still warm, right after a workout.

You know that if you're about to do a high-intensity workout and build up your heart rate, you need to warm up your muscles to prepare for the exertion. It's important to apply that very same TLC mentality once you've successfully made it through the session, as this can help ensure you don't wake up overly tight in the morning.

As countless studies prove, warming upyour muscles before exercising and cooling them down post-workout helps them decompress and soak up the energy you exert, ultimately resulting in a stronger physique. And as a bonus? Those who stretch routinely are said to become more limber over time!

2. Foam Roll

When to do it: While your muscles are still warm, right after a workout.

If you haven't ventured into the wide world of foam rolling, consider giving it a go! Foam rolling provides a more intense stretch and release. It's a deeper way to knead through the many nooks and crannies in your muscles and tendons. This is the approach that many professional athletes take with their recovery regimen.

Foam rollers are available in a variety of shapes and sizes, allowing you to work through any discomfort — from your hips and back to your legs and arms — using your body weight. The benefits of this post-workout method have been scientifically proven, making it a doctor-approved way to upgrade your recovery process.

3. Eat a Carb-Protein Combination

When to do it: Ideally, within an hour of working out.

Everyone's digestion system is different — and while some feel hungry after exercising, others have to wait a bit to build up an appetite. Regardless, having a high-protein snack (no matter how small) is a beneficial way to supercharge your metabolism after working out.

When you pick up a bag of healthy trail mix, enjoy a scoop of peanut butter, or down a hard-boiled egg, you're also assisting your body in replenishing essential proteins it lost during your workout. That's snacking with a purpose.

4. Drink Water

When to do it: Before, during, and immediately after your workout.

While you'll want to be strategic about your intake, there's really never a bad time to down some of that good ol' H2O. Before, during, or post-workout are all good times to drink water. Hydration is an important factor in fitness and in daily life, making it a healthy habit you should always prioritize.

Since your body releases water during your workout in the form of sweat, it's a good idea to replenish yourself by downing at least 16oz. after your workout. When you're dehydrated, you won't perform as well — and you could put your body at risk of developing a number of different health issues. Bottom line? Bottoms up!

5. Wash Your Face

When to do it: Right after a workout (and whenever else you feel the need).

Sweat can pocket anywhere on your body — but especially for those with sensitive skin, removing the aftermath of your "workout glow" will save you from breakouts and other conditions. When your pores are clogged, they can become inflamed, resulting in zits and pimples that leave you uncomfortable.

Other parts of your body can be impacted if you don't wash off, too. To ensure you are fresh, clean, and feeling healthy — hop in the shower before tackling the rest of your day. As always, please consult with a physician prior to beginning any exercise program. See full medical disclaimer here.