5 Easy Ways to Recover Between Workouts

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You’ve already done the hard part and pushed through a tough workout. But that was two days ago, and your hamstrings are still screaming when you try to sit down. If you aren’t actively taking steps to recovery and repair properly, it might be time to give yourself a little TLC.

Certified trainer and health coach Katie Austin — yes, daughter of fitness icon Denise Austin — weighs in on her favorite ways to rebound from hard training and be fresh and ready for her next sweat sesh.

Stretching

In a study published in BMC Sports Science, Medicine and Rehabilitation, stretching was rated the most effective recovery strategy among athletes. Austin recommends dynamic stretching such as arm and leg swings, cat/cow and inchworms before your workout to prepare your joints and muscles to work. Afterward, since you’re already warm, she recommends static stretching such as figure-4s, lying twists and quad stretches to help release your muscles and help shuttle metabolic wastes out of your cells.

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Active Recovery

Complete days of rest are imperative to the recovery process, but so too are active recovery days. By doing simple, low-intensity movements — such as yoga or going for a hike — you’ll improve circulation and help flush metabolic wastes from your cells. Austin hits her yoga mat once a week, releasing tension in her muscles and alleviating soreness from high-intensity interval training workouts and lifting. “It also does wonders for my stress level,” she says.

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Contrast Water Therapy

When you’re injured, alternating ice and heat is a standard healing treatment. Similarly, alternating between hot and cold water during your postworkout shower can offer the same relief. “The warm water helps relieve pain, enhance flexibility and increase circulation to muscles and joints, helping flush metabolic wastes and combat inflammation,” Austin says. “Then the cold water constricts your blood vessels, also helping reduce inflammation.” Begin with two minutes of hot water, one minute of normal temperature water and then 30 seconds of cold water. Repeat four or five times for optimal benefits.

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