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How Long Should I Wait To Shower After Working Out?

Tyler Sellers
Published by Tyler Sellers
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: September 7, 2022

Having a shower after a workout and a short cool-down phase can be a highlight for any training session.

As a personal trainer, I get all my clients to carefully plan their post-workout routine to avoid muscle soreness. And one of the questions I often get is how long people should wait before they head for a shower.

So, I teamed up with a physiotherapist to find out if there’s scientific evidence to support an ideal timing for showering with tired muscles.

Here’s what I found.

Quick Summary

  • Getting out of sweaty clothes after your cool-down stretches and rinsing off that sweat always seems like an urgent task, but there are some benefits you might be missing on.
  • If you wait to shower a few minutes, you can actually help your body recover a bit faster by allowing lactic acid levels to reduce.
  • It’s also important to choose the right water temperature and not always choose hot water for a steamy shower.

Should You Shower Immediately After a Workout?

A person just finished working out and planning to take a shower

No, you shouldn’t shower immediately after a workout. It’s best to make sure you complete a full cool-down process to allow your heart rate and body temperature to come down.

But, standing under warm water is a great way to further enhance your cool-down period [1].

There is at least some evidence that this can help your muscles better remove lactic acid, which otherwise causes soreness.

Also, if you wait a few minutes to shower after a workout, you may allow your body to stop actively sweating so that you don’t end up with a sweaty t-shirt 10 minutes after you leave the gym.

One thing you could also consider is heading to the steam room or sauna after your workout.

Research suggests that this can help with recovery times and muscle repair, which you can then further boost in the shower [2].

How Long Should You Do It?

A muscular person wearing a towel

You should shower for five to ten minutes after a workout.

There is no exact science with this, but there is a very good reason why I suggest that.

See, research has shown that there are general health benefits to having a cold shower [3].

Now, I’m not suggesting going from hot and sweaty to a freezing shower.

But if you go from hot to lukewarm temperature and then gradually to cold, you could be helping your recovery and a general feeling of well-being.

So, spend the first minute enjoying the relaxing heat, and then start washing your body with antibacterial soap.

This will clean your skin and get rid of impurities.

When you then gradually lower the temperature, your skin pores will close up and retain moisture.

It will also prevent clogged pores and tighten the skin [4].

To do this gradually, I find that you need about 10 minutes, with the last minute being at a cold temperature giving you a refreshing shower.

Learn More: Should You Take a Cold or Hot Shower After a Workout?

What Happens to Your Body When You Shower?

A woman taking a shower

When you shower after a workout, your body will improve blood flow to muscles and help them relax.

While scientists don’t fully understand the process, it seems that the relaxing effect on blood vessels allows for more oxygen and nutrients to get to your muscles [5].

When this happens within a half-hour time frame of a workout, you can kickstart your recovery.

And to give your skin a boost, you should let your body naturally dry before you start wiping it down with a dry towel.

“Hot water and steam serve as an instant muscle relaxer, soothing built-up tension and loosening up muscles that can tense up due to stress and anxiety.”

- Nina Kahn, Lifestyle Writer at Bustle.com.

I find that it may help the skin absorb more moisture and not clog pores.

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FAQs

Should You Have A Hot Or Cold Shower After Training?

You should have a hot shower after training. However, you can also gain good benefits from gradually turning down the temperature to a cold shower as part of your cool-down process.

Is There Any Benefit From Not Showering After A Workout?

No, there’s no real benefit from not showering after a workout. You’ll be smelly and sweaty, and you could be setting yourself up for skin irritations and a slower recovery period.

Get Your Post-Workout Shower Timing Right

Before you blindly follow advice to stand under cold water to boost your cool-down efforts, take the time to start by reducing your breathing and heart rate.

Then, stand under some warm water for a minute or two before you wash to help relax your muscles.

And if you want to boost your recovery period significantly more, then drinking lots of water and taking a post-workout recovery supplement can make a big difference.

It’s not a magic potion, but by giving you the most important nutrients for muscle recovery, you can make sure you feel less sore and are ready for the next workout a lot sooner.


References:

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31343603/
  2. https://www.xptlife.com/6-research-backed-benefits-to-sauna-for-the-athlete
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5025014/
  4. https://www.cocokind.com/blogs/news/hot-warm-or-cold-water
  5. https://www.shape.com/fitness/workouts/exercise-recovery/hot-cold-shower-after-workout

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