3 steps to post-workout recovery

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1 - Do a proper warm-down
After your last set, spend five minutes on a proper warm-down, focusing on the muscles you have just put through the mill. This will signal to your body that the session is over so that the recovery process can begin. A report in the journal Medicine And Science In Sports And Exercise found that a warm-down done at 30 per cent of the intensity of the session led to greater strength and power output later on. A decent warm-down also helps flush lactic acid from your muscles, which can help reduce aches, pains and stiffness.
2 - Drink a shake with protein and carbs
When your session ends you have a 20-minute window to get some high-quality nutrition into your muscles to help them recover and grow stronger ahead of your next workout. Research from the University of Texas found that downing a carb and protein-based drink immediately after a workout helped subjects restore muscle energy levels far faster than those who took on either just protein or just carbs. Aim for a mix of 4g of carbs to every 1g of protein.

3 - Power shower
Once in the shower, alternate between hot and cold water in 30-second bursts. A study in the International Journal Of Sports Medicine reported that cyclists who alternated between bursts of hot and cold water performed better in subsequent sprint and time trials compared to those subjects who recovered with hot water. So next time you hit the showers don't be scared of the cold tap.

Joe Warner
Former editor of Men’s Fitness UK

Joe Warner is a highly experienced journalist and editor who began working in fitness media in 2008. He has featured on the cover of Men’s Fitness UK twice and has co-authored Amazon best-sellers including 12-Week Body Plan. He was the editor of Men’s Fitness UK magazine between 2016 and 2019, when that title shared a website with Coach.