The harder you workout, the harder you need to recover. This is a simple principle ignored by many, but suffered by most. It’s the equivalent to driving a new car off the lot, and never once taking your car for an oil change. Eventually, the performance will suffer and the domino effect of negativity will begin.
Too many of us get caught up in the “Ooooo’s” and “Aaahhh’s” of what the body can do, but we forget about the repercussions. The damage, impact, and process needed to replenish our bodies, such as recovery, to perform at an even higher level than before. If you want a bigger house, than most likely you’re going to pay more. Do you want a higher end car? This means higher end gas, and expensive parts to go along with this luxury. You want a more powerful air conditioning unit? Then, this means a raise in your electric bill…you get the point. The harder you push your body, the more you need to take care of it.
Frequently, we are subject to viewing some brutal workouts via social media, in person, and/or hearing about the philosophy on exercise selection, intensity, frequency, and other acute variables. Unfortunately, we rarely ever hear about the “recovery protocol” these athletes commit to off and away from the camera. The volume and overall work capacity these athletes place themselves under may seem insurmountable to most, and they might as well be, if not for the proper regiment in an efficient restoration protocol. We rarely, if ever, see the day-to-day commitment top-notch athletes, and everyday athletes make towards their recovery. It is too common we witness the end result and the glory of the workout, but it is very far and few between where we are informed of the “boring”, but necessary, recovery methods used to reload and recharge.
By no means am I an elite athlete, but I do push my body to some painful limits. On the contrary, I am constantly honoring the progressive overload principle and the principle of adaptation, which are two principles that require time under tension and increased intensity. Several of the elements I use, such as the yoke, the barbell, the kettlebell, and other odd objects, can be very taxing on the central nervous system (CNS). Your muscles can recover in anywhere between 24-48 hours, 72 hours at most, depending on the total impact you placed on your axial skeleton. Although, your CNS can take anywhere from 4-7 days to recover! Your CNS cannot be taken lightly, and if you haven’t felt what CNS depression or “central fatigue” is like, try loading up a yoke four times your bodyweight and take it for a stroll. Lol!
All of us have depressed our CNS if you workout, but there are ways to keep a consistent maintenance program to enhance our recovery. This will ensure your workouts will weigh heavily on the side of “kick-ass” with a smile and, “I can’t wait to do that again!” , compared to “I’m too sore, that sucked, I quit!”. So without overwhelming you with the scientific information as to WHY we should recover let’s use my personal “Recovery Program” as an example! Now, this will be listed in NO SPECIFIC ORDER, but it is a general guideline I try to commit myself to on a weekly basis. Keep in mind, this is specific to ME, and everyone is different. Everyone should develop a routine based on their specific goals and needs.
- Flexibility/Static Stretching – I typically stretch 4-5 days with each session lasting an average somewhere between 30-45 minutes, right before I go to bed. I choose 3 hip dominated poses and 3 upper body poses lasting 2 minutes per. Furthermore, some of these sessions include weighted movements and/or loaded stretches.
- Locomotion Day – One of these days is an active/dynamic day consisting of animal movements.
- Dry Heat Sauna – 1-2 days per week, approximately 20 minutes per session. At times I will attempt to multitask and even stretch as I sweat.
- Ice Bath – 1-2 days per week, approximately 20 minutes per session. No, I will not multi-task, it is the loooooongest 20 minutes of my week.
- Normatec – 2-3 days per week, approximately 20 minutes per session. This is by far my favorite recovery tool. It’s easy as well as very beneficial, and you can multitask when using this.
- Powerdot – 2-3 days per week. I use the Strength Endurance protocol for my areas of concentration, but the app will direct you in the area of need based on you.
- Sleep – This to me is our Superman Chamber, there is NOTHING like a good night’s rest. I am TERRIBLE at this and most likely my “Achilles heal” to NOT seeing more progress in my performance.
- Dr. Holmes – 1 day per week. A typical session for me is anywhere between 20-35 minutes. It usually consists of heat/stim in the beginning, followed by Graston, ART, and adjustment if needed.
- Nutrition – this to me is NOT considered a part of the recovery element, but more so daily upkeep.
New scientific research suggests that anabolism (growth) is not what causes the bulk of the muscle growth. Blocking and preventing the catabolic (breakdown) impacts appears to be the cause of the growth. Muscle growth is a process between the balance of anabolism and catabolism. In other words, you need to either speed up the rate of anabolism or slow down the rate of catabolism. I cannot stress how crucial CNS recovery (central fatigue) is, and the importance of integrating ourselves into a proper recovery protocol. From the CNS, also plays a role with our immune system. So yes, the performance is the focus, but if the CNS is not taken into account then we have the domino effect of us being more susceptible to diseases because of the weakening of our immune system. Overtraining can lead to a multitude of things. Everything from mood swings, to an increase in our resting heart rate (RHR), and/or even a change/loss in our appetite etc. So! BEFORE you blame your nutrition, or your workout program and decide to jump ship and change because your sooooooo frustrated with all the HARD WORK you put in?!? Make sure you look heavily into your recovery protocol and rest because this is one thing we all cannot overcome. Establish a routine and you will find your strength!
Carroll, T.J., Taylor, J.L., Gandevia, S.C.. (2016). Recovery of Central and Peripheral neuromuscular fatigue after exercise. Journal of Applied Physiology 122: 1068-1076.
Hatfield, F.C. (1989). Power: A Scientific Approach: advanced muscle building techniques for explosive strength! Chicago, Illinois. Contemporary Books, Inc.