Inside Scoop: Proper post workout recovery is crucial in helping build and repair muscle. Check out the 5 steps to help get your ready for your next workout.
This post was submitted by Katherine Roberts, a guru of everything related to active lifestyle and personal development.
Recent research has shown that high-intensity intermittent training (HIIT) is associated with multiple benefits, such as weight loss, muscle building, cardiac strengthening, and rapid gains in speed, mobility, and flexibility.
WHAT IS HIIT & WHAT FITNESS ROUTINES DOES IT INCLUDE?
If you’ve ever wondered a HIIT workout is, allow us to clear things up: a HIIT workout involves alternating bouts of intense activity with short periods of rest. You may have heard about the “seven-minute workout”, the “12-minute workout,” or the “10-20-30 workout”. During these routines, you train at high intensity for a very short time frame (lasting around 10-20 seconds) and then rest for about 30 seconds, only to “sprint” back into action.
A HIIT workout includes elements of strength training, CrossFit, treadmill workouts, and cycling/rowing bouts. Regardless of what you may have heard about HIIT workouts, it’s no picnic. Your body will hurt, and if you do not engage in a proper warm-up and post workout recovery, it will be harder to achieve the results that HIIT promises.
Download your full body HIIT workout below with a list of 40+ exercises.
WHY IS HIIT POST WORKOUT RECOVERY SO IMPORTANT?
While scientists and fitness experts praise the benefits of HIIT, few people talk about the importance of a post-HIIT cooldown.
Now we have reached the crux of the matter: everybody is talking about HIIT’s science-backed benefits like weight loss, lowering insulin resistance, improved glucose tolerance, obesity management, skeletal bone improvement, and muscular development, but very few fitness specialists talk about the importance of a post workout recovery plan to its success.
One of the main effects of this type of workout is that you continue to burn fat long after you have finished exercising. However, the period of rest should be active. A post workout recovery session should allow you to make a healthy transition from intense body activity to passive rest. By doing some cooldown exercises after you finish your HIIT routine, you will achieve two goals:
- You alleviate and reduce the soreness and exhaustion
- You enhance the natural effects of your workout
5 POST HIIT WORKOUT RECOVERY STEPS:
As we have said, active recovery allows your body to recover while still enjoying the benefits of the workout itself.
Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF)
It sounds more complicated than it is. PNF is a stretching technique (most of the times used in rehabilitation and injury recovery) that improves body mobility and flexibility. A 2012 study published in the Journal of Human Kinetics showed that PNF shows promising results in increasing the range of motion and improving athletic performance.
- Stretch until you feel some tension in the muscles you want to target through this technique;
- Contract these muscles for 5-6 seconds while using a static object (a gym cage might would be a useful tool) to apply enough resistance to inhibit movement.
- Relax the contracted muscle group and apply a controlled stretch for 20 seconds;
- Release the stretch, allow the muscles to recover, and then repeat the process for 2-4 times.
The applied resistance should be light in this case. The routine’s purpose is to stretch your sore muscles and allow you to perform next-day activities (either HIIT or strength training for instance) without pain or fatigue.
Self-Myofascial Release / Foam Rolling
Foam rolling is a helpful exercise to prep you for your next workout routine. According to science, SMR is a soft tissue therapy focused on your nerves and connective tissues that can enhance the range of motion of your joints and pre- and post-exercise muscle performance.
Foam rolling is also fun and relaxing, as it comes with relaxation and muscle relief. After HIIT training, self-myofascial release allows you to tie those muscle knots you may feel and prevent next-day soreness and fatigue.
Moreover, therapists usually recommend foam rollers to alleviate their patients’ lower back and sciatica pain. You can enjoy some active recovery with this self-massaging at home.
- Identify the areas of your body that trigger pain or discomfort;
- Use a foam roller to press and hold against those areas until you feel the level of pain lowering and the muscles untightening;
- Switch between SMR tools to tap all your uncomfortable zones to alleviate the pressure and pain;
- Massage your entire body and focus on the soles of your feet (with the help of a ball); if your HIIT workout included weightlifting, your feet took a severe beating, and you need to take care of them as well.
Yoga is an excellent post workout recovery option after an intense HIIT session. Your body is very flexible and warmed up right now. If you used a foam roller or ball to alleviate the pain and decompress your muscles, a few light Yoga poses would do you good.
You do not need a full Yoga session, just a few poses to relax your body and mind.
Yoga has plenty of benefits, but science agrees on at least one of them: specific Yoga poses can greatly alleviate back pain. You could use Yoga for neck and shoulder pain or leg pain and relaxation if your HIIT workout pushed your body a bit over the edge.
A Recovery Shower
The dilemma of whether to take either a cold or a warm shower during the recovery period, mainly after you engaged in other recovery activities, still needs a definite answer. It seems that the best way to approach recovery and cooldown is a mix of cold and hot short shower sessions after workout.
Short exposure to cold water boosts the production of one of our body’s most potent antioxidants and the immune system. If you go with hot water afterward, you will help your body flush out dead cells and scar tissue.
Don’t forget to download your full body HIIT workout below with a list of 40+ exercises.
Give Yourself a Treat
A fresh, vitamin and the mineral-packed smoothie is the best way to finish your workout and cool down for the day. Pumpkin-based smoothies can be a delicious post workout recovery treat is rich in vitamin A and carotene, repairing your cells after an intense workout.
Here are some delicious pumpkin spice treats to get you inspired if you also have a sweet tooth. Remember that pumpkin smoothies go great with almond milk, coconut water, and avocado, as you need to rebalance your electrolytes, protect your cells against free radicals, and prevent inflammation.
Another favourite is this Creamy Strawberry Tahini Collagen Smoothie, as this delicious treat is rich in vitamin A, C and calcium, helping repair your cells after an intense workout.
HIIT workouts are intense and tiring but they come with significant benefits for your body weight management and overall health. However, do not neglect your cooldown period and always try to make HIIT increasingly exciting and challenging to avoid boredom. Take care of your body and mind before, during, and after HIIT routines, and you will reach the desired results in no time.
As a fitness passionate from Houston who has just started her journey in the active people's world, Kathy Roberts is interested in everything related to active lifestyle and personal development, especially when it comes to keeping up to date with the latest industry's trends. More of Kathy's work is available on TopFitnessReview and Twitte