Recovery For Hard Trainers
I’ve been known to train really hard (unless you ask my friend Jonah). So when people ask, “What’s the best recovery strategy?” I’ve got the education and experience to help you.
And it hasn’t been an easy road for me. Many times I’ve trained too hard for my body’s limitations. Maybe you have too.
What is recovery?
You don’t get stronger or fitter in the gym. Exercise stresses systems and breaks muscle. You get stronger as you rest between sessions and grow new muscle tissue. It’s like adding a layer of bricks to a brick wall.
Let me explain that in another way.
Exercise cues an adaptation and recovery protocols allow the adaptation to occur.
No recovery = no gains.
The older we get, the more important recovery becomes.
Recovery doesn’t just happen in the hour after exercise, although that is an important time to eat. Recovery is always happening. I know for me, after a crazy workout I don’t feel 100% for 3-4 days.
My elite athletes tell me after they peak for an event, they take a week off.
Important Tips for Recovery
Eat Protein All The Time
Your total grams per day should be 1-2 grams per lb of your ideal body weight. And you have to spread that out over the day. A piece of cooked meat the size of a deck of cards is about 30 grams of protein.
EATING THE RIGHT AMOUNT OF PROTEIN WILL:
- Reduce muscle soreness
- No matter how much protein you eat however, if you train really hard in a way you aren’t used to, you’ll be really sore for a few days
- Slows digestion which helps reduce blood sugar fluctuations which increases perceived energy levels
- Improves immune system recovery when eaten immediately after exercise
- Allow muscles to recover and get stronger (adding bricks to the wall)
Make sure that the meal following a hard workout is high in carb. Macronutrient-speaking the meal will be 50%-70% carb. Eye-balling it we are talking about 2-3 fists of fruit or starchy carbs. Don’t wait 45 minutes to get home.
THESE CARBS WILL:
- Replace the some or all of the glycogen you just burned. Glycogen is sugar that’s stored in your muscles and you burn it during heavy weight lifting (resistance training) and interval sprinting (metabolic conditioning). This allows for you to train cardio again that day or the next day, without eating a high carb diet overall, which may lead to fat gains.
- Give you an insulin spike which promotes muscle gain
- Reduce night time carb/sugar/sweet/salty cravings
- Allow you to perform highly at the rest of your daily tasks
The rest of your meals can be fairly low in carb and you can still perform well in the gym. Elite athletes though usually do best on a moderate to high carb diet, due to training volumes of about 15-30 hours a week. Conversely speaking, chronic low-carb dieting has anecdotally been shown to really mess people up, even in recreational bad-asses like me who train about five hours a week. Low carb diets seems to cause hormone irregularities, metabolic decline (which stops fat loss), performance decline, illness, and so on.
- Signs of over-training include chronic infections, depression, reduced performance, and low sex drive
- A great post-workout routine is:
- drink 500-1000 mL water asap
- Eat 1 cup of fruit and 1 cup of sweet potatoes with a fist sized piece of lean chicken. Optional condiment.
- Eat next meal when hungry
- Heavy lifting requires way more recovery (1-3 days) vs. cardio (as short as 1 hour).
- Hydrate enough so you’re urinating every 1-2 hours and it’s clear or light-yellow. Water helps move nutrients around and remove toxins.
- Know good pain vs. bad pain. Get massages, physiotherapy, chiropractic help, etc.
- Breathe and relax. If you’re chronically stressed, the intense exercise is just more stress. You’ll not recover as well. You’ll get sick more. You’ll die younger.
- Don’t go hard every day. The best gains are made from taking a week off (or light / deload week) every 3-7 weeks.
- If you train first thing in the AM, skip your breakfast. just have water and 5-10 g of BCAA and 1-2 scoops of Biosteel Sports Drink or other electrolyte blend
Remember: Exercise (stress) cues an adaptation. Recovery allows the adaptation to occur.