In the last four years, learning about the gym has been a tremendous learning curve. Lots of information I was given in high school about health and fitness was wrong. Growing up I also thought the “fad diets” were what worked. Looking back, like you saw in last week’s post Stop losing Pounds and Focus on Inches, I found out that I was completely misinformed. It’s the same with the gym and exercise though. There are a lot of ways in which to reform your body, and the things that work for me may or may not work for you and your body… BUT there are a couple universal things that each of us have to remember to do in order to reach our goals.
People tend to think you have to eat less instead of eat properly; others think you have to spend 2-3 hours in the gym a day for 6-7 nights a week in order to build muscle. I’m here to tell you RIGHT NOW that isn’t true!
Are you sabotaging yourself?
Regardless of the amount of time you spend between the four walls of a gym, you will NOT see any results if you don’t make the correct choices after you’re finished. Below, I’ve compiled my top four post – workout mistakes I’ve not only been guilty of myself, but that I see in those around me every day.
Mistake 1: You Skip the Cool Down
Taking the time to let your heart rate and blood pressure return to normal levels cuts your risk of injury.
Look, if it’s cardio and you’re pumping your heart out, you don’t want to shock your system any more than you already are and abruptly halt. I’ve become dizzy and it’s made working out a negative experience while it should be a positive one. Cooling down allows your blood to circulate properly, supplying your system with oxygen and nutrients, and helps muscle recovery. It helps gradually push the lactic acid and other unwanted substances out of the muscles, reducing soreness.
Mistake 2: You Don’t Stretch
Stretching helps to reorganize your body to a natural position and posture. Walk out of the gym without paying attention to areas that are overly tight, and you may pay the price later on with increased soreness and stiffness. Performing some stretches post-workout can help reduce the baby giraffe walk after leg day – which, let’s face it, less soreness isn't just more pleasant for you—it also means you're likely to hit the gym again sooner. Win-win!
Use Wacces Yoga Strap Stretch Restore Multi-Grip Fitness Pilates Stretching Belt Multicolor (Blue) (pictured right), or you can prefer to simply stop by the blue mats on your way out of the gym and use your own discretion. I love these bands for deepening the stretches in certain positions.
Mistake 3: Your Snack Game is Weak
They say that estrogen levels in women tend to protect the loss of stored energy, decreasing the metabolism to keep the energy sustained from your food intake. “When resources (calories) are scarce, the body prioritizes essential functions (like respiration, and regulating body temperature and blood pressure) over things like rebuilding muscle tissue. Inadequate food intake makes it nearly impossible to increase muscle strength or size, and the energy deficit can seriously weaken your power in training sessions in general.” Basically, the less you eat, the more your body preserves and the more your functional systems shut down.
Protein helps replace the amino acids used during cardio, such as a significant run, or helps fatigued muscles repair themselves after weightlifting in the gym. Under eating sabotages recovery because it helps your muscles repair themselves after your workout. Period.
Mistake 4: You Can’t Quit the Booze
Sorry, but a beer after your 5k doesn't count as a post-workout snack.
Drinking causes ANY and all Fat or Sugar burning to cease. Your metabolism goes the opposite of what we all want – it flips the fat storing switch to the ‘on’ position, as well as the liver and muscles not being able to store sugars as glycerin for later. For any ladies using hormonal contraceptives – and I JUST found this out – issues with alcohol and your plateau are correlational. It’s said that supplementing with B6 should be a daily requirement.
Look, I get it. I actually just participated in a Pub Run on Friday... (pictured)
They're fun and social and get you motivated if you're into that kind of thing. But they are solely FUN and are NOT conducive towards your fitness goals in the slightest.
Drinking alcohol immediately after (or during) a workout slows muscle recovery, dehydrates your body, and increases your risk of blood clots. It's best to only drink water for at least 30 minutes afterward—and then you can hit the bar if you'd like.
So that's the basics on why it's not working for you - if it's not! You need to cut the booze, stretch, cool down and eat right. But, hopefully, you already are doing all of those things.