I have been wanting to share my post-workout routine with you but I wanted to make sure that it still worked now that I’m 43. I have been using this routine pretty much exactly this way since high school athletics and I am very happy to say that it still works. The only thing I have changed is I added foam rollers into my stretches.
Since our gym opened a few weeks back we have been hitting the weights hard. I am already seeing and feeling the results but I was really worried that I would be sore. I won’t lie say that this post workout routine has me feeling like I did when I was younger but I do feel great.
We work out at a gym about 10 minutes from home. I do the cool down portion of my routine at the gym but do the rest at home. On days when I work out at home, I go straight from cooldown to stretching.
It’s very important to incorporate a cool-down period into your post workout routine. Doing this will reduce muscle fatigue, soreness, and might help to promote strength gains.
I don’t have a strict cool-down routine but I make sure and give myself enough time to transition gracefully. After a normal workout it might take 5-10 minutes for my heart rate to return to normal. I prefer doing an easy walk on the treadmill or bike for my cooldowns. How you cool off is up to you, what is important is that you allow your body to relax before leaving the gym.
There isn’t really a step to my routine for this but it is probably the most important part of any after workout routine. You have to replace what you just lost while sweating so make sure and drink enough.
I drink water during my workout and switch to something with electrolytes afterwords. Right now I am drinking whichever sugar/calorie-free sports drink is on sale. As long as you are replenishing water and electrolytes drink whatever suits you best.
Stretch and Foam Roll
As soon after getting home as possible, I spend 10 minutes or so stretching and foam rolling all my major muscle groups. I wish I could say that I have the perfect stretching routine for you but I just wing it every time. I normally start stretching whatever muscle group we worked out the hardest then move on to whatever is easiest. I don’t believe that the order matters that much, just stretch it all nice and slow.
I will normally start with stretches and then when I’m feeling good I move on to the foam rollers. I sometimes go the other way if I have any pain points that I want to target with the foam roller. In my experience stretching then rolling is more comfortable and leaves me feeling better than the other way around.
If you have never used a foam roller I can’t recommend it enough. I just tried it a couple of months ago after I hurt my back. Here is my foam roller buyers guide if you are looking for a good recommendation. If you want a recommendation without reading the guide this one is my favorite.
10 Minutes of Cold Water Immersion
Cold water or ice baths have been around forever and are highly recommended for recovery after exercise. Sadly for high school coaches everywhere, the science is all over the place and there are many studies that cast some doubt on this practice.
Personally, I have been using cold water baths for as long as I can remember and I “feel” like 10 minutes in a cold bath makes a big difference. Take that with a big grain of salt of course but I would recommend that you give it a try and see how you feel.
It isn’t important to take a full-on ice bath but I make my bath as cold as I can handle. I am still working on my tolerance to cold and I can add a couple of popcorn buckets of ice to my water. I would recommend starting as cold as you can manage and then just keep making it colder over time.
High Protein Snack & Creatine
I try and wait until after my bath to eat and take my creatine. Some days when I am feeling a bit shaky I will go ahead and eat right away after getting home. Normally this happens only on weekends when I work out before breaking my fast. It is important to always listen to your body.
A good post-workout snack will have both protein and carbs so that your body can start repairing itself. Personally, I love peanut butter and banana sandwiches after a hard workout. That has been my go-to since high school. If that’s not on the menu then anything high in protein and fat with a few carbs will do. Fish (especially salmon) or eggs are also good but a bit too much work for a snack.
I will also drink water with creatine in it. Creatine is the only supplement that I use and I love it. It helps with strength and muscle development and makes your muscles hurt less. Buy the cheapest unflavored monohydrate creatine you can find. Don’t buy the flavored creatine mixes, they are almost all high in sugar and calories.
Ice Sore Muscles
After making my snack will plop down on the couch with every ice pack in the freezer and flip on the television. I then ice down any muscles that are still feeling sore or fatigued. There isn’t a time limit for this, just do it for as long as possible. I often find myself getting up a lot and then coming back and icing my muscles when I can.
As a bonus, this is a great way to spend time with the family watching television and talking. We don’t watch a lot of television so we are always behind on shows. This gives me an excuse to chill out without feeling like I’m slacking off.
That’s My Whole Routine
I hope that this has helped you to find the perfect post workout routine that will work for you. I can’t guarantee that this is the best ever but it has been working really well for me. If you have any recommendations for improvements I would love to hear from you.