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Working out need not be a pain

travel Updated: Dec 07, 2009 12:24 IST
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To stay fit, you need to not only train hard, but also train smart. Recovery is an athlete's secret weapon, increasing the ability to tolerate more work and the capacity to work more efficiently. Follow these steps after a workout for a proper recovery.

Rehydrate
Immediately after your workout, drink one litre of water at least for every 1 kg of weight lost during exercise. Weigh yourself immediately before and after a workout to know how much water you need to be glugging down.

Refuel
Consume carbohydrates within an hour of your session. Drink a fruit juice or sports drink. You could make a post workout shake which is a mix of simple carbohydrates and rapidly absorbed protein. This helps reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol that eats into muscle tissue. It also provides the muscles with much-needed nutrients and kickstarts the recovery process.

Eat
Eat within an hour of your workout. A post-exercise meal with a higher ratio of carbs to proteins enhances the uptake of glycogen by the muscles and helps rebuild damaged tissue. If you've exercised for more than three hours, replenish your sodium and potassium levels too. Don't take pills as they tend to irritate the stomach lining. Just eat the right food, like boiled spinach, celery, etc. Even if you need to lose a good amount of body fat, you should have 150-200g of carbs per day. A low-carb diet slows down thyroid and testosterone production and causes fatigue. However, those looking to lose weight need to be careful about ingesting too many carbohydrates.

Contrast therapy
While showering, alternate between 4 minutes of hot and 2 minutes of cold water. Repeat twice. This helps increase blood flow and speeds up the removal of lactic acid from muscles by repeatedly constricting and dilating blood vessels. End your shower with cold water.

Ice baths
Ice baths and ice massage help reduce muscle soreness. The cold causes blood vessels to tighten and then expand ensuring flushing out of lactic acid and toxins.

Sleep
Your body repairs itself while you sleep, so make sure you get at least eight hours of shut eye a night, to max out your performance.

Stretch
Before the workout, after it, and, most importantly, on the rest day in between.

Compression
Compression tights increase blood flow, stimulate circulation and reduce muscle fatigue. You can wear them anytime you want, even while you're sleeping.