Tips for Post-Workout & Recovery for a Healthy Body

Aug 3, 2022

 by Lateef Johnson

If you’re reading this, you’re serious about your workouts, your performance, and even more importantly, your results.

This article will outline simple steps you can take to help you max out your results – whether you’re a diehard fitness enthusiast or brand new to working out. At Fit Austin we take training seriously and we know how important it is to take care of your body. 

Step 1: A Well-Designed Workout Program

One of the BEST things you can do to maximize results from your workouts and other fitness-related activities is to …


This goes for everyone, from fitness walkers to yoga lovers to world-class athletes! Getting fitter and stronger is a delicate balancing act. That’s because fitness has many components:

  • Cardiovascular fitness
  • Muscular strength
  • Muscular stamina/endurance
  • Flexibility

That’s not to mention any skill-related components needed for sports you may enjoy, like speed, agility, and balance. Making sure you do just enough – and not too much – to maintain and improve those areas of physical fitness is the key.

Getting fitter and stronger means you have to challenge your body. Then, you have to let your body work its magic by giving it time to repair, rebuild, and recover. The best programs take that into consideration.

Hallmarks of a Great Fitness Program:

  • Progressive (they gradually become more challenging)

  • Periodized (they vary in intensity, with easier/more challenging workouts)

  • Contain variety

  • Include easy or rest days

If you work out daily or tend to overemphasize specific muscles/movements in your workouts… you could actually be overstressing your body and slowing down your progress.

Working with an experienced coach is a smart way to ensure a balanced, progressive fitness program that will get you results… but faster.

Step 2: Your Post-Workout Cooldown

You’ve just finished your amazingly well-designed workout. Now what?

Well, the specifics of your cooldown depend on what you did during your workout!

Workout: A cardio or high-intensity interval training workout that raised your heart rate.

Cooldown: Take at least 5 minutes to gradually allow your heart rate to return to normal. 

This can help stop blood from pooling in your extremities, which can make you feel dizzy, lightheaded, or even faint.

You can walk on a treadmill or around the gym or your home, hop on a stationary bike, or simply move your body, gradually decreasing your intensity.

Workout: A strength-training workout

Cooldown: Hop on an exercise bike, treadmill, or elliptical machine for a short, moderate-intensity session.

Doing a little cardio after a strength workout is linked with less post-workout soreness.

TIP: Be sure to bring your heart rate down before you hit the shower.

Step 3: Stretch Your Body

When you’ve just finished working out, your muscles are warm and pliable. This makes it an ideal time to work on your flexibility.

Stretching helps:

  • Prevent soreness

  • Improve mobility

  • Improve your posture

  • Increase blood flow

  • Relieve tension & promote relaxation

  • Improve flexibility and your range of motion

  • Cut your risk of injury

Plus… it just plain feels good to stretch after a workout. It’s also an excellent time to wind down and relax.

Don’t skip the stretching. While pre-workout stretches are active, your post-workout routine can focus on static (non-moving) stretches, which you can hold for 30-60 seconds.

Sample stretches to incorporate into your routine:

  • Standing Calf stretch

  • Hamstring stretch

  • Quadriceps stretch

  • Leg Crossover stretch

  • Modified Hurdler stretch

  • Kneeling Lat stretch

Foam Rolling for Post-Workout

While the most important time to foam roll is before your workout, it can also be helpful to use a roller after your workout. This is especially true if you have any trouble spots, muscle imbalances, or did a focused workout targeting a specific muscle group.

To foam roll after your workout, simply roll the targeted body part until you feel a tender spot. Hold that spot for 30-60 seconds until the discomfort reduces, and move on to the next tender spot or body part. (Be sure not to roll over any injuries or joints.)

Step 4: Hydrate

It’s time to replenish those fluids!

If you’ve worked out hard or gotten sweaty from your workout, make sure you drink at least 16 oz (475 ml) of water or other post-workout drink. Staying hydrated can help your body get stronger, experience less soreness, and even improve your flexibility.

If you aren’t a fan of water, here are some other beverages to try:

Coconut Water - It contains recovery-boosting minerals like potassium and magnesium, as well as antioxidants and other micronutrients. It also contains less sodium than other electrolyte drinks. One downside: it can cause bloating in some people, so sip slowly!

Chocolate Milk - One bonus to this sweet beverage is that it contains a muscle-friendly ratio of carbs to protein to help you refuel and recover, along with important
electrolytes and water. 

Green or Black Tea - This helps your body break down fat molecules, plus it helps cut muscle soreness and boost muscle strength recovery after your workout.

Step 5: Refuel

There’s an important window of time right after your workout when you have the opportunity to kickstart your recovery – and your results!

This is still an emerging area of research but studies show that during the 30-45 minutes after your workout, your body appears to be especially receptive to two key nutrients: carbs and protein.

The carbs will help restore your glycogen levels, which will help with both energy and recovery. Protein, meanwhile, contains important amino acids that help your muscles repair, recover, and rebuild. For most people, eating a simple protein-carb snack or meal will get the job done.

A few ideas:

  • Greek yogurt with fruit

  • Turkey wrap

  • Tuna and whole-grain crackers

  • Protein shake with a banana

Post-Workout Nutrition Optimized!

If you want to get super technical when it comes to exactly how many grams of carbs and protein to eat after your workout, here are some guidelines from the National Academy of Sports Medicine:

  • 1 to 1.5 grams of carbs per kilogram (1 kg = 2.2 lbs) of bodyweight

  • 15-25 grams of protein

A person weighing 150 lbs (68 kg) would aim for a snack containing 15-25 grams of protein and 68-102 grams of carbs.

Step 6: Active Recovery and Rest Days

Your workouts create two kinds of stress on your muscles:

Stress 1: Mechanical Stress. When you challenge your muscles properly, you’re creating microscopic damage in your muscles – don’t worry it’s a good thing! – that is necessary to help your body get stronger.

Your muscles generally need 24-48 hours between workouts to repair, recover, and rebuild from this type of stress.

Stress 2: Metabolic Stress. Working out depletes your muscles of glycogen (energy). Continuous days of workouts (especially if they’re intense) can leave you feeling drained and exhausted... Taking a rest or active recovery day can give your body the extra “oomph” it needs to keep performing at a high level during the days that you work out.

Reason to take a rest day:

  • Avoiding physical burnout: Inadequate rest can leave you feeling depleted, stale, and sore.

  • Preventing mental burnout: constantly pushing yourself can set you up for mental fatigue and make you start dreading (vs. looking forward to) your workouts.

  • Creating a more balanced life: fitness IS super important, but so are your other hobbies and interests!

  • Spending time with your family and friends.

  • “Adulting.” Grocery shopping, meal prepping, chores, errands, etc. have to get done at some point.

But What About “Active Recovery” Days?

Active recovery days fall somewhere between workout days and rest days. These are days when you’re not working out as hard as you would on a “workout day” – but you’re also not leaving a big dent on the couch from Binge-watching your latest streaming obsession.

This is when you take a yoga class, go for a hike, play softball, go swimming 
at the beach, go mountain biking or anything else that involves gentle to moderate activity.

Active recovery days can be even more beneficial than complete rest days because they can help keep your blood flowing and better help your muscles recover and rebuild.

Working with a coach can help you build the right amount of rest & recovery into your routine, so you can continue getting results while ALSO living a full and balanced life.

Step 7: Lifestyle Factors

Sleep. There are so many reasons that 7-8 hours of quality sleep is vital to your workouts.

One of them is safety: when you go into a workout tired, your risk of injury goes up. Plus, the more energized you feel after a good night of sleep, the more energy you can bring to your workout.

From a recovery standpoint, sleep is critical at a cellular and hormonal level.

  • Anabolic hormones (like human growth hormone –HGH) help your muscles recover and grow. HGH is released during periods of non-dream deep sleep.

  • Catabolic hormones contribute to the breakdown of tissue, and these include cortisol and adrenaline, which are linked with (among other things) stress. When you don’t get enough quality sleep, you can have higher levels of these hormones.

Diet. What you eat immediately before and after your workouts matters – but so does what you eat between your workouts!

Basically, the more you can focus on eating a variety of real, whole foods (vs. packaged and processed foods), the higher quality your nutrition will be. Your focus should be on lean proteins, healthy fats, vegetables and fruits, and whole grains.

Stress. Earlier we talked about how stress can affect you at a hormonal level.

Your body is well equipped to handle short-term acute bouts of stress, such as a bad day at work. But too much stress over a long period of time – aka chronic stress – can take a toll!

This is why it’s important to have healthy habits in place to help you manage stress before it manages you.

Some proven ways to manage stress:

  • Meditation or breath work

  • Exercise

  • Time outside in nature

  • “Unplug” time with friends & family

  • Reading

  • Massage

Step 8: Extras

If you’ve covered the basics of workout recovery and still want more, there are some other methods you can add to your recovery toolbox.

  • Massage. Studies show it can help improve flexibility as well as reduce post-workout muscle soreness.

  • Cryotherapy. Exposing your body to very cold temperatures for a few minutes may help reduce fatigue, pain, and inflammation after a hard workout.

  • Sauna or hot tub. The heat can speed up blood circulation, helping to remove waste from your muscles while also pumping oxygen and vital nutrients to your muscles to help them repair.

We know how important your fitness and health are to you, and hope the information in this article helps you get the most out of your workouts.

At Fit Austin, we approach your fitness, exercise, and health program to include Cardio, power, muscular strength, and endurance. Creating a safe, fun, and informative experience for everyone.