Step Up Your Progress with Recovery!
Often times we try to get to our fitness or performance goals by pushing ourselves to the limit. We challenge ourselves and are determined to get what we want.
I think that this is great and it is the best way to accomplish your goals quickly. We must get out of our comfort zones and challenge our abilities and toughness.
However, there does come a time where we have to pull back and ensure that our bodies our recovering from our workouts well enough to continue to see progress.
How many people do you know that have pushed themselves to the limit or went gung ho into a fitness program only to be hurt a few weeks later?
I would guess that most of us have done it and we know a lot of people that have put themselves in the same situation as well.
Recovery is important so that our body heals and can return to a normal state. If we can recover from our workouts physically and mentally then we can push just as hard without injuring ourselves or burning out during the next workout and for months to come.
No one workout has ever made the difference in someone’s progress, but one workout can hinder your progress for weeks or months!
When thinking about recovery we have to consider our stresses! We have training stress (the tough workout and what it does to our body), as well as physical and mental stress from our daily lives.
Three things come to mind when we talk about recover:
3) Physical Maintenance
Nutrition is one of the factors that we can easily manipulate! Are you eating enough meals throughout the day? Are you eating the right type of foods? Are you consuming your pre/post workout nutrition?
We would like to aim to consume 5 meals per day with 3-4 hours between meals. This would include breakfast, a small snack, lunch, a small snack, and then dinner. We can also include a pre/post workout meal to help enhance our recovery and improve our results.
The 3 big meals- breakfast, lunch and dinner- should consist of lean proteins, healthy fats and veggies or fruits.
The 2 smaller meals- snacks- should be an easy to consume food like a protein shake, nuts, cheese, or lean protein.
During your pre/post workout meal you would like it to contain an easy to digest protein and some simple carbohydrates. A great pre/post workout meal is Prograde Workout! This is the perfect blend of carbs and protein to make sure you are recovering and getting the most out of your workouts.
This meal is so important because of our energy needs during our workouts. I would always recommend that you consume this drink prior to your workouts. If we can get the carbohydrates and protein in your system prior to training you will be sure to have the energy (carbs) you need and the insulin spike that will occur from ingesting carbs to push protein into the muscles. The carbs will fuel the workout and the protein will help you recover. It is the perfect pre workout meal.
Immediately after your workout is also a great time to take Prograde Workout. The protein and carb mixture will ensure that you are recovering from the training session. You could also aim to have a meal with an easily digested protein and more complex carb after your training sessions.
The perfect scenario, if you are training HARD, is to have Prograde Workout 30 minutes prior to your workout and then follow that up with a meal of quickly digested proteins (chicken, whey protein powder, tuna, fish, or other lean proteins) and some complex carbs (oatmeal, sweet potato, rice, etc). The goal should be a ratio of 2g of carbohydrate to every 1g of protein up to about 30g of protein.
During these meals (pre/post workout) the amount of fat should be limited.
Another huge factor in our recovery is sleep! In our busy and sometimes hectic lives we will often sacrifice sleep to get more done. This can have a negative effect on our recovery and lead to lack of progress and injuries.
You should be getting 6-7 hours of good sound sleep each night. To get the most out of your night time sleep you should avoid stimulating activities like watching TV or video games prior to bed and try to sleep in a completely dark room. Adding in some white noise, like a fan, in the background will also help you fall into a deeper sleep.
Often times we may sleep but toss and turn through the night or not reach a deep sleep that allows us to relax and recover.
If you need a 20 minute nap during the day try to find time and get in your nap.
You also should try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on the weekends. This allows your body to get into a pattern and set a sleep cycle. Get up immediately when your alarm goes off and don’t hit the snooze button. If you wake up naturally within 30 minutes of your alarm simple get up and start your day. You will feel much better than trying to sneak in the extra 20 minutes of sleep. Waking naturally is always better for you than using an alarm.
Resting between training sessions and allowing the body to recover is also key. You simply can’t train hard 5-6 days per week for several weeks straight without risking overtraining and injuries. Listen to your body and if you feel like you are unmotivated, having trouble sleeping, grumpy and sore all the time you might just be overtrained and need to take a little break.
You can train for 5-6 days a week if the intensity of each session is balanced and every 4-6 weeks you take a little break or lighten the load a bit. I personally will train 5-6 days per week for 3 weeks at a time and then train 3-4 days on the fourth week and lower the volume (sets/reps) of my training or lower the intensity of my training.
I also manage my training during the week. I include two strength days (MW), two metabolic conditioning days (TR), one density training day (F), one free day depending on how I feel (Sat) and one rest day (Sun). My strength days include heavier lifting and typical strength training. I mix up my metabolic days with intervals and conditioning exercises for 30 minutes. My density day is a 5-8 exercise circuit done with moderate weight at a fast pace. The goal of the density day is to challenge my strength endurance and get as much work done in as little time as possible. Often times my free day is used to jump into a Saturday boot camp or get in some extra work that I want to do that week.
The final aspect of recovery that you can easily control is ensuring that you are doing your foam rolling and stretching in between workouts and after workouts each day. In an ideal world I would have people foam roll before training sessions, in the evening if they training in the morning or in the morning if they train in the evening and once to twice per day on off days. It only takes 10 minutes at a time and it will do wonders for you physically.
Foam rolling or performing tissue quality work on your trouble areas (upper back, hips, etc) that are very sore or tender on off days will help you to push harder during your workouts and recover better between them. This will only lead to increased results.
We are carrying foam rollers in the gym for purchase now and anyone is free to stop in or grab one after your training session. It will be the best $15 you have spent.
If you don’t know much about foam rolling check out this video that we have done to explain most of it!