When bringing out the best in your physical fitness, post-workout recovery is just as essential as what you do during your workout.

Know that true gains are made when your muscles are recovering, but that gaining process starts with your workouts. The bridge between effort and gains is recovery, so learn how to make the absolute most of your post-workout recovery.

1. Push Your Limits, But Do So With Moderation

While it’s true you will only see results by pushing your limits, you don’t want to go too far off the deep end. If your muscles hurt several days after your workout, chances are you’re pushing yourself just a bit too much.

A good middle ground is to shoot for doing a bit more than you did during your last workout. This better ensures you make steady progress rather than go one step forward only to stumble two steps back.

2. Create Recovery Workouts

No matter how great you feel during and after a workout, know that you’re breaking down your tissues and muscles while using up your body’s energy stores. To better avoid burnout and injury, you will want to perform recovery workouts every three to five weeks.

A recovery workout is essentially when you perform half the reps of your normal workout with less weight than normal. While you might not like the idea of not giving each workout your all, you’re sure to have more energy when you leave the gym after your recovery workout, and your body will thank you in ways you might not recognize until later.

3. Use Recovery Nutrients

Even though it’s fine to use supplements and shakes to supplement your workout efforts, don’t be afraid to branch out a bit. This means using recovery nutrients that promote healthy living.

Such products are made to ensure you have enough antioxidants, vitamins, probiotics and related nutrients so your body is better able to perform and function at its peak. Be sure to check out reviews for any products you’re thinking about using and that their benefits match up with your specific health goals.

4. Eat Wisely Before Your Workout

While you’ve likely heard of the importance of eating right after your workout, what about what you eat before your workout? Bear in mind that the carbs and proteins you eat before your workout remain in your system even after you’ve completed your workout, so be sure you store up on them before you hit the gym.

To keep from experiencing any cramps or other digestion problems, shoot for eating a high-quality meal at least two hours before your workout.

5. Take Advantage of Rest Days

In the days and weeks leading up to your recovery workout, be sure you rest at least 24 hours between your more intense workouts.

It’s true that most bodybuilders and athletes base their progress on how sore they are after their workouts, but not giving their bodies enough time to rest during a post-workout recovery could result in avoidable injury, which can have them laid up for much longer than they’d like.

If you don’t push yourself to your limits with each workout, you’ll likely be okay with shorter rest periods.

6. Remember to Stretch

Cooldowns and stretching are just as essential, if not more so, as your warm-ups. It’s understandable that stretching is sometimes something you can dismiss entirely, but neglecting to stretch out your muscles can do much more harm than you realize.

Stretching makes your muscles more malleable and flexible, which you’ll need to get the gains you want. Something else to think about is the fact that improved flexibility boosts your range of motion, which you’re sure to notice during your workouts.

7. Sleep

Do everything possible to get a good night’s sleep, not only for muscle recovery and growth but also so you aren’t irritable and so you take advantage of the hormonal secretion that takes place during sleep.

It’s best that you develop a sleep schedule and stick to it as much as possible. Half-hour power naps during the day are also a great idea.

Post-workout recovery is an essential step in achieving your fitness goals.

Take all the necessary steps to do what’s best for your body and how you feel about your body.

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