Jessica Ennis-Hill's top five ways to look after your muscles post-workout

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Want to make the most of your muscle gains when following the Jennis Fitness programme? Here are Jessica Ennis-Hill's top 5 tips for maximising muscle recovery...

Watch any pro-athlete at the end of a race and it’s unusual to see them recovering with a burger and a glass of wine (although it has been known).

Instead, you’ll see that they take the time to cool down, stretching out their legs and working on their recovery. They also have a regular regime that helps their body recover, which includes what they eat, what they drink, how they stretch and even how they sleep. Here, I highlight five easy ways to give your body that little extra helping hand to recover post Jennis Fitness circuit.

1. Refuel your tank

Muscles are under stress during exercise and this builds up their strength — but for that to happen, you also need to refuel them after all that energy expenditure. A good way to do this is to drink smoothies or a glass of milk, or to eat a banana or a handful of nuts within half an hour of ending your workout to start the repair process immediately.

I was always really bad at this when I was training, but you also need to remember to rehydrate. As a guideline, this should be around a pint of water for every hour of exercise.

To get fitter, you need to factor in rest days every week

2. Go tender on those tendons

Stretching and massaging your muscles is probably the most neglected part of post-workout routines for most people. And let’s face it, after hitting a circuit hard, it can be tough to convince yourself to spend a few extra minutes stretching or using a foam roller. You should never skip out on the cool downs and stretches, though. Stimulating the blood to flow through the muscles flushes out toxins and is proven to reduce the risk of muscle injury or stress.

3. And, relax…

Once you have a refueled and stretched properly, a hot bath or shower moves things on to the more relaxed part of the recovery phase, soothing tired limbs and relaxing the mind in preparation for the next part of your recovery…

Stimulating blood flow through muscles flushes out toxins and reduces the risk of muscle injury

4. Sleeeeeeep…

Follow any professional athlete on Instagram and you’ll notice two common activities: furious training and equally furious relaxation.

Rest and sleep are essential for recovery and when I was training I would have a designated nap everyday ( how I miss those days now I have two very active kids).

The reason this is prescribed for athletes is because when you’re horizontal, your body can fully focus on repairing muscles, rather than holding you upright. The NHS suggests eight hours of sleep a night as a minimum, but even if you’re just resting on the sofa watching Netflix (I’m giving you a very legitimate excuse to do so), your muscles are getting the rest they need to recuperate.

5. Build in rest days

OK, we’ve nailed the immediate post-workout recovery. Now it’s time to allow your muscles to build.

To do this properly, there’s no point smashing the workout circuits every single day. To get fitter, you need to factor in rest days every week to give your body the time to go from muscle recovery to muscle rebuilding. As a guide, I do my circuits three times a week, but make sure I go hard when I do, then rest properly when I’m in-between exercise days.

If you take a similar approach, you’ll begin to see real improvements because your body is allowed time to adapt to the demands you’ve been placing on it.

Right, I’m off to watch Netflix.

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