From Your Training and Your Life.
Original title that didn’t quite make the cut: MOVE. Yourself, Real Foods to Your Face, and Your Ass to Bed at a Reasonable Hour… If you’ve been reading January’s corresponding blogs by Johnny Martin, Director of Aftercare for FitOps, then you should understand by now that personal development is participative and requires real effort. If you haven’t read Johnny’s posts, stop right here and redirect yourself to the following:
Much like mental, physical, and emotional progress are not achieved by victimhood and letting the world move you, recovery is not a passive process. What is recovery? For the purposes of this blog, recovery involves the actions taken to positively adapt to the stress of training. <Add in a self serving fancy line about down regulation and transitioning from a sympathetic to parasympathetic state here>. I break recovery into the following categories (somewhat stolen, aka adopted and adapted, from Coach Johannah Zabal, Director of Performance for Soldiers to Sidelines – another awesome organization you should look into):
4. Stress Management
Maybe you imagined a list of gadgets or the word “rest”? Modalities like rolling around on a foam roller, standing in a cryochamber, hammering at your muscles with power tools, and getting squeezed by air or cold water certainly have their place. But if your recovery doesn’t prioritize the tools of the kitchen and a counting sheep, no amount of money thrown at technology and other interventions can offset your poor life choices.
The fourth category that deals specifically with stress management, primarily from a psychological standpoint, includes activities like goal setting, action steps, mindfulness, meditation, journaling, accessing professional support, socialization, etc. Some of this is covered within Johnny’s existing posts shared above, and people much more qualified than me to address psychological stress management will deliver more information on this category of recovery in future blogs.
Benefits of Recovery
Life is packed full of stressors – Work, family, school, home ownership, your physical training. You read that right, even your training qualifies as a stressor. Stress can build you up or break you down – whether it’s catabolic or anabolic is up to how effectively you recover.
Squats + Cheetos + Booze Filled Rage = Catabolic (maybe even catastrophic)
Squats + Meat / Fruit / Veggies + 8 hours of Sleep = Anabolic (like the fountain of youth)
Calculus aside, effective recovery helps to:
– Maximize your adaptation to training by increasing strength, power, endurance, hypertrophy, aerobic and anaerobic capacities, movement competency, etc.
– Decrease soreness, or at least the debilitating effects of that soreness
– Improve your body composition
– Increase your ability to handle future stressors
– Enhance your immune function
– Decrease inflammation and gastrointestinal issues
Fortify Your Recovery Routine
Sleep and nutrition are cornerstones of recovery. I absolutely despise that they are acceptedly referred to as “passive” methods. Both require intentful and informed effort. Movement, another cornerstone, is comprised of all activities and modalities that aim to facilitate healthy human motion; massage (including self-myofascial release and concussive instruments), hot/cold/compressive therapies, cupping, and MOVEMENT (walking, yoga, warmup routine, stretching, etc.). I’m likely missing something from the movement list but the actual moving part is the most important anyway so I don’t really care about some overpriced spiked lacrosse ball made of ice that inflicts pain and glows in the dark. Simply put – It counts as recovery if it leaves you better than it found you. Don’t let the whiskey nor the brewski fool you – They’re both trojan horses that wreak havoc once you let them into your castle.
Future blogs by expert guest writers will deep dive into each of these recovery cornerstones. The goal of this post is to familiarize you with the recovery concept and initiate an appreciation of its value in your life. That said, here are a few simple tips that can literally change your life if you implement them on a daily basis, consistently for an extended period of time – Quick note, these tips assume you’re already taking action on the advice within the first three blogs of this series and exercising regularly:
Sleep (8+ hours per night):
– Avoid late exercise, snacks, phone/computer/tv screens near bedtime
– Keep your room dark (pitch black) and cold (60-67 degrees)
– Write down anything you’re ruminating over that’s delaying sleepy time
Natural sleep aids like melatonin may have a time and place for use but not until you’re checking all the free boxes of sleep hygiene.
– Drink 12-16 cups of water (I’m a beer drinker so I convert this to 6-8 pints)
– Consume fresh fruits and vegetables of as many colors as possible (“eat the rainbow”)
– Men: Eat 2 palm sized servings of protein with each meal
– Women: Eat 1 palm sized serving of protein with each meal
– Touch all the primary movement patterns with low intensity
– Combine movement with the outdoors and socialization when possible
– Explore various modalities but combine them with active movement
Find ways to inject movement more frequently into your lifestyle.
Stress Management (adapted from Johnny Martin):
– Honestly name the stress: Acknowledge stress for what it is (life’s moments)
– Identify a realistic action step INTO, not away from, the stress
– Write down what you’ve done in the past that didn’t work. Now, crumple it up and throw it away
– Be emotionally honest and present, and write down a different strategy for the same stress
– Execute the action step REPEATEDLY whenever the same or a similar stressor presents itself
Don’t make stress out to be more than it is but don’t ignore it either.
First, give yourself something to recover from by training regularly. Second, recover by way of proper fueling and sufficient doses of quality sleep. Never stop moving, even on “rest” days. Lastly, explore the pay to play items that might further enhance the effectiveness of your recovery efforts.
Here are some trusted resources for more in-depth advice on the four cornerstones of recovery:
Sleep – The Only True “Fixall” for Health and Performance (by Brandon Marcello)
Sport, Recovery, and Performance: Interdisciplinary Insights
Recovery for Performance in Sport
Mindfulness / Meditation App: