If you aren’t losing the weight or gaining the muscle you want, you might jump to the conclusion that you’re not exercising hard enough or for long enough. You might be wrong, though, says Walter Keating Jr, a Toronto-based personal trainer.
Before you try beating yourself into the ground at every workout, you might want to consider the idea that your lack of progress is actually due to post-workout mistakes that you’re making. In this article, Walter Keating Jr. reveals what mistakes may be sabotaging your fitness goals.
4 Post-Workout Mistakes That Will Destroy Your Results:
Mistake # 1: Not Eating After Your Workout
If you want to gain muscle, then you need to eat right after your workout. If you want to lose weight, then guess what? You still need to eat right after your workout. You see, after exercise, your energy levels are exceptionally low, and that can hinder your metabolism. In fact, it hinders your metabolism enough to make you unable to optimize your calorie burn, causing you to ultimately eat more later on and store more of it as fat.
When you eat right away, you keep your body in tip-top form, maxing muscle gain and calorie burn. Furthermore, you should skip the post-meal protein shake. It’s always better for you to eat protein-rich foods instead. Your body gets more out of them. Also, try to avoid eating a lot of carbs after your workout, as your body is more likely to store them as fat.
Mistake #2: Hitting the Shower Right after the Last Set
Stopping cold after your workout is a bad idea. Exercise causes a buildup of metabolic byproducts such as lactic acid in your muscles, and it takes some time for your body to clear them. These byproducts can cause your muscles to become achy and sore, making it more difficult to do your exercises the next day. It also slows down muscle regeneration, slowing down your gains.
This is why experts recommend a cool-down session after you finish your workout, one that involves your whole body but is fairly gentle, such as walking, swimming, riding a bike, or rowing. This cooldown will accelerate the breakdown of the metabolic byproducts in your muscles.
Mistake #3: You Hit the Bar as a Reward
As satisfying as pounding down a few might seem like a reward for a good, hard workout, it will actually hold back your progress. You lose a lot of water and electrolytes when you exercise, and you need to concentrate on building them back up after your workout. When you go for alcohol instead, you don’t get these things. You might even become even more dehydrated.
Furthermore, you stress your body even more by forcing it to work to get rid of the toxins in the alcohol, giving it fewer resources to spend on muscle regeneration. And, finally, there’s the matter of excess calories. Alcohol contains a lot of calories, and imbibing too much could completely undo the weight loss benefits of the exercise you just finished.
Mistake #4: Heating Up Instead of Cooling Down
Nothing feels better after a hard workout than a nice relaxing session in the steam room or sauna. You can practically feel your muscles relaxing and the strain draining out of you. Similarly, it can be tempting to put a heating pad on muscles that you pushed too far while exercising. Both of these things are mistakes, though. Your body is already overheated from the exercise, and it’s devoting a lot of its resources to cooling down.
If you force it to work even harder to cool down, then you are taking away from the resources it needs to regenerate your muscles. Your gains will slow down as a result. Try a cool shower instead of the steam room, and ice those sore muscles instead of using a heating pad.
If you want to get the most out of your exercise program, then you need to pay as much attention to the post-workout period as you do to the workout itself. This is especially true if you’re a busy person who struggles to find enough time to exercise as it is. Remember, sometimes it’s the little things that make the biggest difference.
About Walter Keating Jr
Walter Keating Jr. is a Toronto-based fitness coach specializing in triathlon coaching and corrective exercise training. He graduated from the Fitness and Lifestyle Management Program at George Brown College and immediately started his professional career. Mr. Keating has worked as an endurance coach, personal trainer, spinning instructor, and corrective exercise trainer.