Photo Credits to Hassan
What is under recovery and why is it important?
Anyone in athletics has often heard about over training, and many competitive people worry about not training enough but enough people don’t worry about under recovering. The smarter and faster you recover the harder, longer, and better you can train over all.
There is a great difference between over training, and not training enough. And there is also a difference between under recovery and not working out at all. There are many people who train too much and also many who don’t exercise enough these days. There is a definite balance and it is different for every person. And I truly think that if you are honest with yourself and listen to your body you can find it and achieve whatever goal you are striving for better and faster, and happier.
This applies from the casual gym goer, all the way up to the highest-level athlete who can get some useful information from these points of recovery. Deep down I believe they all pertain to quality of life over all, and that every human can benefit from these tips and tricks in life, but I will mainly address the avid exerciser and benefits of recovery.
Recovery IS a vital part of training, and should not just be an after thought. If you can shorten your recovery time you get to train more and train better. Whom ever gets in the most productive training gets the fittest. Fast recovery is the goal.
Every time you exercise you are adding stress to the body, breaking down your muscles, and fatiguing your nervous and energy systems.Your body tries to stay at a baseline of normalcy (homeostasis) and is made to adapt to stress and changes, like exercise to keep your body at that state. With every rep you get weaker and need rest to recover. The longer and harder workouts are the more recovery and adaptation you need to get stronger, and for your body to accustom to this stress. That time, and method of recovery is different for everyone.
Time is different and varies for everyone based off of a whole bunch of independent variables. I may need 2 days to recover from Murph while Katrin Davids daughter needs 30 mins. Each individual needs to give themselves their proper amount of recovery.
Proper Training, enough of the right food and sleep, mental recovery and mobility all play a huge factor in performance.
I’m first going to quickly address over training a word people have hard more often.
Over training is defined as training exceeding the body’s recovery capacity, indicated by excessive fatigue both physically and mentally and resulting in impaired performance. (Medical Dictionary)
You can train more if you recover more. But if you don’t recover you will over train.
Take away: So training that exceeds the body’s recovery capacity can result in over training. So I can train more if I increase my body’s recovery. But if I don’t recover I will over train. So, over training isn’t only doing too many exercises, exercising too long or too heavy of weights. Interesting.
The difference professional athletes? The fittest recover faster, and better and therefor can train stronger, longer and higher. They are professional recoverers (not a word, I know)
“Well I don’t want to go pro so I don’t need it.”
Wrong. The most moderate gym goer can achieve their goals better by increasing some very simple recovery methods. The more avid gym goer you are, or the higher your goals, the more you need to pay attention to these. Even if your only goal is weight loss, this applies to you just the same if not more.
What are you doing in the gym. When you get there and during training.
Recovery during training doesn’t only mean after or between sets. One of the biggest rules if you want to train again the next day is, “Don’t blow yourself out.” This is so important. If you go too hard or too much one day you can’t train hard the next. That doesn’t mean you can’t workout hard ever, or that you should not be sore the next day. What it means is you don’t go so hard you can’t move your limbs, you didn’t exhaust your CNS (central nervous system) and you don’t create even small nagging injuries. It doesn’t mean you have to do a heavy Clean and Jerk EMOM, and then Murph (35-60min+ body weight wod) in one day and expect yourself to then do your best 1RM snatch, and Jackie the next day.
There is a way to train smart and hard to allow yourself to recover enough for a training session the next day.
You also can’t expect yourself to beat every single goal, or time, or lift your heaviest weight every day. The oldest study in the training world involves cycling your workouts, intensity and recovery.
Fun fact: Most proper training programs follow a method called Periodization and it counts in recovery as part of training smart. Its basically and increase in training stress, to recovery cycle (supercompensation) that allows your body to achieve ultimate adaption and peak performance. More on that another post.
Macro-nutrients (macros): Proteins, fats, carbs.
Micro-nutrients (micros): Vitamins and minerals.
The two biggest factors with nutrition are eating enough, quantity, and enough of the right things, quality. In order to give your body all it needs you must be eating the right amounts of both macro, and micro-nutrients so it can function properly.
Macro-nutrients are your carbs, fats, and proteins and your body need enough of each to function properly. It’s the big hot item to talk about these days “Manage Your Macros”, or “If It Fits Your Macros”. It is a great guidance but can severely miss the entire picture at times. Simply explained when it pertains to fitness:
Carbs = the best/quickest (short term) energy source (~0-20 mins of a workout)
Fats breakdown = long term energy (~20+ mins of a workout) and prevention of the breakdown of muscle, absorption of essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals, plus they help make up the membrane of cells in the body which are kind of important.
Protein: Build and repair cells and tissues, including muscle repair and growth.
These aren’t their only exclusive jobs but among their most important when it comes to exercise.
But what is often forgotten is our micro-nutrients. Our vitamins and minerals, which are necessary to promote good health and the function of various systems in the body.
Just because that burger, with bacon and cheese fits your macros doesn’t mean it has a very high nutritional value, aka it is not high in micro-nutrients. You can easily fit your macros into your food log without a single vegetable or fruit but the vitamins and minerals those provide will literally aid your body in recovery, hormone regulation and overall health.
Don’t believe me? Try it. Try to add more, and a variety of, vegetables and fruit into your life and try to tell me you don’t feel better, stronger and healthier. Its not just a mind trick, these micro-nutrients are doing their job and allowing your body, and mind to thrive.
Hydration is beyond important. You body and especially your muscles just can’t function properly without water.
Up to 60% of our bodies are made up of water. Your body’s cells, organs and tissues use water to regulate and maintain their proper temperatures and other bodily functions. Your body will rid your body of waste easily through various means if you are providing your body with adequate water intake too.
Fun fact: your body doesn’t only get water from drinking, but also from the break down of foods during digestion, yet another reason it is so important to eat well too.
Sleep is a time for your body to recover, both muscularly, mentally and within your nervous system, tissues and cells. All over. Sleep is your bodies chance to repair itself.
Again, quality AND quantity are very important. It is not just how long you sleep but how well you sleep.
Sleep is a chance for you to recharge your battery. Think of sleep like plugging your cellphone back in to recharge. 7 hours is your average joe and jane. 9-10hours is for your avid athlete or those trying to compete at a higher level.
Fun fact: I picked up from Ben Bergeron is that during sleep your body naturally produces HDH. A banned substance when it is administered artificially and it is greatly sought after for the help it does for the body to repair and recover… and your body does it naturally just for sleeping plus it is legal and free!
Downtime. A Mental Check Out. I think taking a mental break can be whatever you need it to be. Training is stress on the body. Physically and mentally. You need to de-stress your mind as well to get the most out of your workouts. Go for a walk, meditate, take a bubble bath, do relaxing yoga, pet your dog, hang out with friends, read, draw, grab a glass of wine (not a bottle)…. TV can be a way to click out from life, esp if you’re rolling out during it 😉. But the goal is to de-stress. It can look different to everyone, but you need to relax your mind as much as your muscles.
Fun Fact: The body doesn’t know the difference between mental, emotional or physical stress, it only recognizes stress on the body and reacts by releasing cortisol (stress hormone). When levels of cortisol are too high it can hurt rather than help. De-stressing mentally can help decrease these levels.
Muscle and tissue recovery. Body Work
Body work comes in many different forms. Some get a bigger bang for the buck but can also be expensive. Yet everyone can do something to help aid their recovery and perform at their best.
From Cheapest to Most Expensive:
Rolling out: Lacrosse balls, and foam rollers=Huge beneficial. AFTER workouts. (before is prepping for the workout) Jump on foam roller while you’re watching tv!
Stretching, Yoga/RomWOD: This can cost you nothing if you know how to stretch already, or ask a coach to help you. Or can cost you very little to subscribe to a yoga channel, ROMWOD.com, or a yoga studio a few times a month. (hint: go to a yoga studio, write down what you did or your favs and repeat them at home for free!)
Band Assisted Banded Stretching: Can take your stretching to the next level with something as simple as a band of resistance.
Compression Tack/Voodoo Bands: Please please heed caution on using these and if you skin turns white, ashy grey or white take it off immmmmmmedietly. But a cheaper option to increase blood flow to a desired area of your limbs
Muscle Simulators or Cmpression Boots/Suits: Increases blood circulation to flush out waste products in your system produced naturally during training. This helps speed this process up. Flushes waste out and pulls new, clean blood in including bringing rebuilding tools inside the blood to help start rebuilding/replenishing anything that was lost during training.
Professional Body Work: a professional’s aid to break up adhesions or help release, and realign tissues or bones. This can be Physical therapy, Massage, chiropractor… or I’d even include acupuncture here if that’s your thing! But these can be expensive and time consuming. Not everyone can afford this unless you’re a professional.
There is no scientific way to know, no set answer to know if you’re recovered. If you need 2 days or 20 minutes. You need to learn, listen and know your body. You need to be honest with yourself and go through a lot of trial and error.
Your soreness, hunger, sleep, irritability, restlessness, so many things can go into determining how long you should rest and recover before training again. Things like recording your morning resting heart rate, heart and/or sleep monitors like whoop or apple watch can help. Pay attention to how you feel and exercise day to day to help regulate what works and what doesn’t and find your balance.
Your ability to recover can set you apart. The faster you can recover the better you can get back to training at full strength. Katrin can recover faster than most humans. So we can follow Ben Bergeron’s extremely smart thought out program same as her and not get the same results. It is not just that she is a genetic freak, I’m sure that helps, but that she can recover faster, and she trains smart. Your ability to recover sets you apart, the faster you recover the faster you can get back to training at full strength. If you train smart and don’t blow yourself out, over train, and get to that point where you need to spend 4 days off, or have injured yourself you can keep training, and that’s the goal right? Consistency gets you results. So consistently train, consistently recover and don’t under sell your potential.
Homeostasis: the maintenance of metabolic equilibrium within an animal by a tendency to compensate for disrupting changes
CNS (Central Nervous System): the mass of nerve tissue that controls and coordinates the activities of an animal. In vertebrates it consists of the brain and spinal cord.
Over Training: exceeding the body's recovery capacity, indicated by excessive fatigue both physical and mental, and resulting in impaired performance. Also called staleness.
Periodization: Sequenced strength-training program that varies training volume and intensity to optimize physiologic functional capacity and exercise performance by structuring training into time blocks of different duration (macrocycles, mesocycles, microcycles). The goal is to prevent staleness(over training) while peaking physiologically for competition.
Super-compensation: Process by which the muscle repairs and enhances damaged fibers and reloads substrates after overload exercise.