When it comes to recovery, what do we really need to be focusing on. We live in a day and age where technology and “the next best thing” rules the world. This also rings true with recovery. So, the question arises, when it comes to recovery, what really works?
Before I get into that, I want to dive into why recovery is so important.
We train to get bigger, faster, stronger, and to increase physiological attributes, which then creates fatigue. Accumulating that fatigue over time is what is building up our new and improved fitness. However, to do so we must remove that fatigue and unveil all of our new strength and speed. If we do not alleviate the fatigue ti will lead to exhaustion and actually hurt our progress.
What is actually causing fatigue?
- Intense training sessions. These lead to increased cortisol and increased sympathetic activity.
- Increase in training volume. Usually plays the biggest role in fatigue.
- Low glycogen stores. Glycogen is our body’s preferred fuel source and a lack in glycogen can lead to a decrease in recovery and performance. ( eat yo carbs!!)
Now, How do we actually recover from this fatigue?
- Nutrition: Proper nutrition is key! If we aren’t eating the proper amount of food to fuel our training then we are hindering our recovery. For more on this click hereand fill out my coaching application.
- Sleep: I cannot stress this enough. Everyone should be striving for at least 7 hours of sleep a night, and if you are an athlete you should shoot for that 8-9 hour range. Not only is consistent sleep important, but also consistent sleeping patterns are needed as well. Set a strict sleeping schedule, fall asleep around the same time and wake up around the same time every day. Sleep with the moon and wake with the sun. You can even implement naps. Napping is a great way to increase recovery. Studies have shown that taking 20-30 min naps can help increase recovery and mental cognition.
- Stress management: This is a pretty broad category, and really the first two can fall into this category as well. When I talk stress here I am meaning areas of your life such as work and relationship stressors that can affect your sleep and nutrition, which in turn affect your recovery. This is where meditation and relaxation come into play. Meditating is a great way to dig into your parasympathetic nervous system and get out of that sympathetic state that I touched on earlier. Sympathetic is your “fight or flight” state which is the state a lot of us are in all day long. We wake up in a hurry, rush to work where we are stressed out, rush to the gym to further stress our bodies, then rush home to do chores. By the time we lay down for bed we took no time out of our day to simply chill out. This is where other populate recovery practices come in handy, like massages, and electric stim machines. They are relaxing, and one would argue that most of their recovery benefits come from the fact that we enter the parasympathetic state. We could also put in physical touch from a loved one in here, and not just sexual touch. Feeling loved is a great way to help us manage stress. Having people who love and support you will improve your mentality and in turn increase recovery.
- Training (rest days, tapering, and light days): Within our training we must have some sort of periodization built in. If we train balls to the wall at all time, we leave no room for recovery, even with the other above mentioned recovery methods. I recommend at least one FULL REST DAY! This means a day away from the gym completely, staying away from heart rate driven activity. Also implementing light training days in regularly. Having days where you aren’t all out 100% giving it all you got. Taking time to actually practice good movement. As an athlete tapering is also important. This is usually used in preparation for a competition, and with the open quickly coming up this could be important. For more on that please send me an email at [email protected].
Above, I listed my best and most important recovery management tactics. If you follow these I truly believe you can maximize your results.
Now, what are some recovery methods that people like to use instead of these. ( These still can work, but only after you have mastered the tips above)
- Foam rolling
- Compex ( electric sti m)
- Those big ass space boots that we put on to magically recover
These are just a few popular methods that I see today that are taking the media by storm. They look and sound cool, and it seems easier than implementing the things that really work well.
Now, all of these things have been proven to benefit the athlete, and they can be useful to improve ones recovery.
First you must master the things that are most important, such as nutrition, sleep, stress management, and good programming.
While the above strategies can be effective, athletes need to be careful not to neglect good coaching and programming.
If you want help today with increasing your recovery through sound nutrition and programming, click here.