After a trip to the gym most of us get on with our day and hope that we have pushed ourselves just the right amount. Too much, and we will end up feeling sore the next day, too little and the hour and a half might end up having been wasted. Assuming that we have stretched before and after and that we are generally eating a pretty well balanced diet, our bodies should be able to recover and move on fairly quickly. There are however times when we need to think a little more about how to nourish our bodies post workouts. This can be the case when for instance we are beginning a new exercise regime or recovering from an injury in which we need to take extra care. It may be that we are just ramping up our regular routine, but whatever the case, it is always best to know how to supply the body with what it needs in order to make each workout the safest and most productive possible. One of the most important ways to ensure both these conditions are met is to pay attention to your post-workout ways. Below are some fairly simple tips to help make sure that your body is pampered after a hard workout and, as such, that it will be healed and ready to go for your next gym date.

First off we need to ensure that before hitting the gym we have given our body the fuel it needs to perform. A balance of proteins and carbohydrates in your diet ensures that your body will have the energy it needs. Glycogen is the fuel that gets released when you utilize your muscles. As such, it is one of the most important aspects of any workout. Glycogen is produced in your body from carbohydrates. Those carbs are broken down internally so that they can later be used as fuel. If, as is too often the case for some of us, this Glycogen is not used immediately, it gets stored to be used as fuel for the body later. Of course, if we binge on carbs and then fail to get to the gym, these carbs may well simply turn into extra pounds. If, on the other hand though, we get ourselves to the gym, this Glycogen will begin to be released from the stores. Your body begins to access the Glycogen in order to live up to the increased demands being made upon it. Right after the workout the enzymes that convert Glucose to Glycogen are elevated and as such this can also be the best time to replenish the body with Glucose. For about 30 to 45 minutes after an intense workout, consumption of Glucose will go towards the replenishing of muscles as fuel rather than to other less desirable places. This time period is called the ‘carbohydrate window.’ For this small amount of time, a little carb indulgence is recommended and therefore guilt free. A small carbohydrate rich snack (100-200 calories or so) might be all it takes to make sure that your muscles get what they need for a complete recovery.

Alongside the muscles’ need for Glycogen, a hard workout also dehydrates the body due to the amount of water and liquid loss from sweat. According to recent estimates, for every pound lost during exercise, twenty-four ounces of fluids should be consumed to rehydrate the body. While water should be sipped in small amounts throughout the exercise program, for the next six hours after the workout, replacing lost liquids is essential to a healthy recovery. Water is of course of the most vital aspects of this rehydration, but as many workout enthusiasts know, water is not the only thing that gets depleted during training. Electrolytes also need replenishing and this why drinks such as Gatorade and the like have been so successful with athletes. Electrolytes and Amino Acids are important to the post workout regime. Amino Acids such as L-Glutamine can prove highly beneficial for helping build muscle and retain muscle mass.

Glutamine can be used up by the body during times of emotional and mental stress, or during illness. If for instance you’ve been fighting off a cold or other minor infection, the L-Glutamine that generally goes towards muscle maintenance and production can be instead redirected towards boosting the immune system. As such, if you have been struggling with a cold or flu or have simply been under a greater deal of stress than usual, L-Glutamine supplementation might be something to think about to help speed up post-workout recovery. Choosing between muscle maintenance and a healthy immune system is not something you want your body to have to consider.

L-Carnitine is another important supplement which can be very beneficial for athletes and workout enthusiasts. L-Carnitine reduces the production of lactic acid in the body, the substance often responsible for sore and achy muscles. Supplemental L-Carnitine can help to ease muscle soreness after a workout and actually to speed up muscle recovery. Building muscles involves stressing and tearing them first and even milder strength training can therefore result in some minor aches and pains. This supplement reduces pain and damage to the muscles from heavy activity and aids in increasing blood flow throughout the body.
Minerals such as Sodium and Potassium can also get depleted following an intense workout, so making sure that your multivitamin contains adequate amounts of these minerals is essential. Especially if you are ramping up your exercise regime, it might be worth speaking with a health specialist about extra mineral supplementation. Some formulas actually contain a mixture of glucose, fructose, L-Glutamine and sodium and potassium. Looking for something that has all of this in one might be an easy way to keep things simple.

A little bit of protein also goes a long way to ensuring that your body recovers well from exercise. Protein has been found to help repair muscle damage and to help recovery by improving the rate of synthesis of Glycogen. Adding small amounts of protein to a carb snack (a one to four ratio of protein to carbs) can help improve the Glycogen refueling process. Some good ideas for snacks and meals after a workout include peanut butter on a whole wheat piece of toast or granola mixed with one percent yogurt. Healthy carbs and healthy protein will help speed recovery and boost your energy so that you don’t feel drained after an intense session at the gym.

Finally, if you have accidently worked a little too hard or have forgotten to stretch or bring along your post-workout snack, you may need to take some other steps to lessen the recovery time. If you have overdone it a little and are now suffering the consequences, it is probably best to have a nice long soak in a hot tub. Adding a little Epson salts to a hot bath will help relax both the mind and the muscles. As this can make you sweat even more, be sure to continue drinking plenty of fluids during and after your soak.

Sore muscles are generally nothing to get too worried about. If injury has occurred this will be fairly obvious and will differ from the general achiness that comes with a hard. Nevertheless, the psychological impact of sore muscles and achiness can be just the culprit that keeps you from hitting the gym. If you’ve hurt yourself to the point of not being able to get back to the gym for the next three days, then you’ve essentially defeated the purpose of the exercise in the first place. If you overdo it and then fail to take care of yourself after a workout, you will actually be sacrificing another couple of times at the gym. Especially if you are just beginning, overdoing it and then foregoing proper post-exercise nutrition will make the whole experience a less positive one. As such, not only will these simple steps help you to recover faster and get you to the gym the next day if you are so inclined, they will also help make your fitness experience more pleasurable. In so doing, you stand a much greater chance of keeping up with your exercise routine. Taking a few precautions and post-workout supplements could therefore mean the difference between the body you want and the body you’ve got.

Author's Bio: 

Dale Miller is a health, sports, fitness and nutrition enthusiast. He operates and writes a blog at