As we get stronger, faster, and more explosive, we need to be able to manage the accumulated fatigue the comes with it. Injury, plateauing, and stagnation are all damn near inevitable if you don’t take care of the backend when it comes to maintenance. Your body is a MACHINE and the machine needs to be serviced to continute working properly.
Everyone thinks they are Superman/Superwoman and can just show up and crush the next workout without addressing their recovery. Poor sleep, little food or inadequate food choices, etc and expect to get stronger and faster.
It seriously blows my mind how many people think just putting time in the gym will address all of their needs. I myself was guilty of this at one point. I can forgive your ignorance to a degree, but when YOU KNOW what you need to do and don’t do it – well, that’s on you. And if you don’t know, I’m here to get you started.
There is no hacking recovery or short cuts in this process of recovery. Respect the process.
All in all, its really not that difficult. It comes down to a matter of your priorities. How bad do you want to reach your fitness goals, whether thats physique, strength, endurance, etc?
I’ll start off with the most important…
Seriously, try to get 7-8 hours a night.
Here is a great article regarding a full nights rest and some methods to do so. I can’t emphasize how important sleep is for recovery and overall health.
If you can’t get 6-10 a night, try to squeeze in a nap during the day. Even 10-15 minutes will make a huge difference. Not only in physical recovery, but in cognition as well.
In addition to that, when I’m trying to get shredded, I’ll make time during my day for a nap. Lack of sleep is stressful on the whole system, and fat accumulation is more likely to occur. Plus, there is high chance for manifesting an injury. Fat loss can be a battle, but injuries are often bigger battles.
Whats more important – scrolling through your Instagram/Facebook feed for an hour while laying in bed or getting to bed a little earlier? (Not pointing fingers here, I’ve been quite guilty of this in the past). At this point in your life, you should know how much shut eye is good for you.
- Work on breathing through your nose. Don’t be a dirty, dirty mouth breather. Pick up a box of nasal strips from the pharmacy if you tend to have blocked nasal airways.
- Get a good set of pillows, and a mattress that agrees with you. You spend a lot of time here, might as well make it comfortable and effective as possible. You don’t wear clothes that feel like sandpaper do you? Why settle for mediocrity.
- I highly recommend bamboo cotton sheets. You’ll never go back.
- Recovery days – Yes, you should have these. And they should be programmed accordingly into your own training, depending on your goal, training history, work capacity. Remember, you grow during recovery – not training.
Like the title says, these are the basics. I’m not going into crazy detail in this particular post.
Try to always have a good meal around your training. By “good meal”, I mean some lean protein, carbs and maybe a little fat. Most important are carbs and protein.
Some people don’t eat before training. Others don’t have an appetite right after training…Both are totally fine – a matter of personal preference. Try to get some real food intake at least an hour after lifting.
Also, the night before a heavy/intense training day, don’t be afraid to get some carbs in. I recommend rice or potatoes, but fruit or grains are fine as long as you tolerate them. Don’t worry if its paleo or not – we’re athletes here.
Get some fats in other times during the day, preferably. Nuts, nut butter, eggs, coconut/olive oil, animal fat are all great choices.
- Drink plenty of water! All day.
- Chew your food. All the way. Be mindful of what you’re eating. Take a look at it and appreciate it before you shove it into your mouth.
Supplements are just that – there to supplement a diet. Not a replacement. Your normal diet of food should be pretty solid before you start messing with supplements.
Here are a few of my favorites. And a couple links with a small overview. I don’t want to bog you down with too much information
>Whey Protein – Whey is derived from milk protein. Its simple to mix, quickly absorbed, and perfect to have around your training (before, during or after). I prefer to use www.musclefeast.com, www.truenutrition.com (make your own mix!) or Optimum Nutrition. Theres a lot of crap powders out there with a ton of filler junk. Check the label – the ingredient list should be minimal. Best = protein isolate, hydrolyzed, then concentrate. Soy = no good.
>Creatine – You can buy in bulk for cheap. Buy an unflavored container so you can mix it with whatever you want.
>Baking Soda – I know. You’re thinking WTF? Seriously – supplement companies can’t sell it because its too cheap to mark up. Here’s a link with a full overview. All you need is half a teaspoon in your shake.
>Caffeine – pills are better. By better I mean faster absorbing and readily available. But I like coffee. So if I’m training early, I’ll drink coffee on the way to the gym.
If you ever want to know ANYTHING about a supplement, check www.examine.com Its the #1 source for objective research on pretty much anything you can think of.
Personally, I use an intra-workout shake. This means I pre-mix all my ingredients and sip throughout the workout. My shake consists of:
1 scoop vanilla whey
1 scoop Gatorade powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
The whey and Gatorade taste great together. The Gatorade provides some fast acting carbs during the workout.
- GET YOUR DIET IN ORDER FIRST
>Soft tissue work – if you have time, get in some foam rolling/lax ball tissue work before or after you’re done training. Work on your problem areas. Even better: get some ART (Active Release Technique) done by a licensed provider. Here is a link to check your area for one. Or simply even a deep tissue massage.
>Static stretching – great before bed, really relaxing for the nervous system (which is what we want before sleep)
>Contrast Showers – I use these from time to time to help calm down the nervous system after some intense training. Hot for a minute, cold for 30s. Repeat a few times. Play around with different intervals – just like training. Step out of your comfort zone a little bit. The cold will suck the first few days but you’ll adapt.
For a much deeper analysis on recovery, check out this link. The information I presented here should get you started in the right direction. As always, send any questions my way.
Stay strong, stay swole, and don’t forget – always eat for two.