How To Recover After A Workout

Man lies on gym floor after working out
(Image credit: Getty Images / Jakob Helbig)

Time is the greatest healer after a hard workout, but there are things you can do to accelerate your recovery – both in the immediate aftermath of finishing your session and the hours that follow.

To complement expert advice on what to eat after a workout and post-workout stretches, we spoke to David Wiener, training and fitness specialist at fitness app Freeletics to find out what else you can do to boost your recovery.

What are the key things to think about with your recovery?

There are nutritional needs to consider to repair the muscles. Getting protein in is important, as is getting carbohydrates into your body to replenish the energy that you’ve lost. And obviously, rest is important. You have essentially torn your muscles in a workout, you have put stress on them. They need to recover. Anything that’s going to help that is useful.

What should you do straight after a workout to aid recovery?

I would eat within 30 minutes. Aim to have 25-30g of protein because that’s going to work to repair the fibres that were torn and repair the muscle. You will have used your energy sources, so you need to get some carbohydrates in you as well. 

What are good things to do over the rest of the day after workout?

Maybe have an Epsom salts bath, which has high magnesium content. Or you can get some magnesium oil where you rub into your body. You can stretch. There are lots of different things to try, like sports massages, ice baths, foam rolling, but it depends on how vigorous your training is. If you’re an intermediate or a beginner, do you really need to start doing high-level athletic recovery? Probably not. It also depends on when you’re training next.

How would you recover if you’re planning to train again the same day?

I would mainly focus on resting your body in between sessions, and definitely replenish your energy sources with food because you’re going to need that for the second session.

If you have DOMS after a workout is there anything you can do to hasten recovery?

You can do a little bit of stretching, but it’s quite hard. Your muscles will be contracted and quite stiff, so what you want to do and what you physically can do can be quite different. If your legs are in absolute agony and you try to stretch them, you’re going to struggle.

Is there anything else you’d recommend?

I do recommend meditation. With meditation you learn to relax the muscles in your body. After training, do six to 10 minutes of meditation, breathing exercises – just taking deep breaths and letting your body de-stress.

More Recovery Ideas

Nick Harris-Fry
Senior writer

Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.