Your post-exercise behaviour matters. In fact, it matters almost as much as what you do during your workout.

Knowing what to do and what not to do after your sweat session can significantly enhance the workout you just did and prepare you to crush your next one.

Here are 5 ways to fix some of the most common post-workout mistakes:

Don't skip the stretching


Many of us are short on time or trying to fit in a workout whenever we can. Our solution? We skip a warm-up and cooldown to help maximize our time with the weights.

Stretching allows your muscles to recover after a tough workout and can help prevent injuries. Making time for stretching can also improve your range of motion in the short term and help you make the most of your next gym session.

Drink enough water

Most of us know we need to drink water during and immediately after our workout, but we don’t often consider the long-term effect that exercise has on our hydration needs. Long after you’re done in the gym, your body requires more water to keep up with that demanding gym session.

Proper hydration improves protein synthesis and speeds up your recovery by flushing out the waste created by muscle breakdown. Urine colour, not thirst, is the best indicator of your hydration levels; you should aim for a pale yellow colour.

Avoid caffeinated beverages after a workout. Caffeine beforehand is okay because it can help boost your energy levels and possibly help stimulate fat loss. However, after exercise, your cortisol levels are high, and you’ll want to bring them down as fast as possible to help with recovery.

Don't become a couch potato

Immediately hitting the couch, returning to your desk at work or getting into bed after a workout can slow down your recovery.

Sitting or lying down for extended periods after a workout can increase muscle soreness because it allows blood to pool. Try to get up and walk around every 20 to 30 minutes to keep your blood flowing and let your body take its time moving from exertion to relaxation.

Remember to eat a light snack

It’s not uncommon to reward yourself with a post-workout cheeseburger or pizza because we ‘earned’ it in the gym. However, our digestive systems typically aren’t prepared to accommodate such a large meal right after a workout.

That said, it is important to eat something after the gym to help refill the glycogen you’ve depleted and promote protein synthesis. Try eating a light snack immediately after your workout, and save bigger meals for an hour or two down the road (aim for balanced nutrition choices, not just pizza and burgers!) when your digestive system is better-equipped to handle it.

Celebrate your progress

Instead of immediately whipping out your phone to check your texts or scrolling through Instagram, take some time to reflect on what you accomplished. Enjoy the buzz that comes from completing a workout and acknowledge the physical and mental benefits of what you just did.