How do you recover from a tough workout?

 So you're in a groove with your exercise program and decide to take it up a notch. When you wrap up the session, you're sweating profusely. You immediately think, "Oh, that' going to hurt" and ask yourself, "How long is it going to take for me to fully recover?" First, kudos for pushing yourself. But, don't forget that once the workout is over, recovery is a major key in getting up and moving again the next day. Here are seven ways to optimize recovery and get you back to another hard-hitting session as soon as possible.
  • Make the first hour count. Many know of the window of opportunity where eating is best because you burn calories faster than if you ate several hours later. But did you know that if you miss that window, you're actually decreasing your chances of a full recovery? Research shows that even consuming a post-exercise snack or meal immediately after working out is better than eating only one hour later. If you wait too long (1-3 hours later), nutrient replenishment and protein repair could diminish.
  • Not all food is equal when it comes to recovery. Building on how important the timing is of your next meal, don't skimp on nutrients. Who hasn't thought they earned a burger and French fries after a tough workout? Eating a good protein-to-carbohydrate ratio is paramount. Whether it' a turkey sandwich or cereal, here are some options to consider adding to your diet.
  • Remember to stretch. Stretching is one of those activities that can go by the wayside if you're rushed. Yet, it' also one of the most critical in ensuring that you come back in full form later. According to Health.com, here are the best post-workout stretches , even if you feel like you don't have enough time.
  • Embrace the foam roller. Foam rolling is close to getting a massage. And, bonus: foam rollers and barbells help the lymphatic system get rid of waste created during a tough session. Just make sure you're using them correctly. Here are some tips from Greatist to ensure you'll be a foam-rolling pro in no time.
  • Sleep it off. Sleep can be an overlooked component of any exercise regimen, but it' actually one of the most important. If your plan is really tough and only going to increase in intensity, you'll need at least eight hours of sleep a night. More studies show that sleep is when the body has time to fully recover and rebuild. So many important processes take place while sleeping, such as the body fighting off the inflammation associated with diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
  • Go low impact. If you struggle to move your arms or legs the day after your tough workout, then you may want to think about how to best avoid overexertion. For instance, if you maxed out on leg day, running five miles the next day will most likely not be in the cards for you. Perhaps consider swimming or yoga to still reap training benefits while protecting yourself from overtraining.
  • Know when to take a rest day. You may wake up the next day so painfully sore, attempt a low-impact exercise such as walking and miserably fail. That' okay. It' a sign that you need to take some time to rest and recover. It can be hard to know when you've hit the overtraining limit, but the best plan is to always err on the side of caution and take the day off. If you're not sure you need a rest day, consider these five signs that you may be missing.
Whether you're frequently pushing yourself or just beginning to take it to the next level, don't forget that recovery is one of the most critical components of a robust exercise regimen. And, if you exercise too intensely and panic about what to do so that you're not sore for a week, consider these tips. From preventing injuries to helping you see progress, recovery will help you tackle your next tough workout.