When it comes to the art of the recovery in regards to training, we seem to try and push ourselves as if we don’t have any limitations. We watch movies with training montages and our brains are jumping out of the chair well ahead of our bodies to start the particular Seal training we just finished watching. Unfortunately there are consequences that correlate with this newborn passion, and that is the ultimate physical and mental crash. Ok so here’s the thing about this particular subject today; it will involve some science so that you’re able to understand and succeed in your own personal training journey. But I’ll keep it plain, and simple, and to the point.
First off I dedicate this to my A-Types, you know who you are. You are the weekend warrior who’s up at 5AM hitting the same cardio routine for the last decade in hopes to stimulate that personal high. You work just as hard as you train and the go hard or go home attitude is ingrained in your genetic make up. After work you’re at the gym pushing the same workout because it’s hard and it’s efficient, and time could be money in your field of practice. On the weekends you let off some steam by engaging in your favourite sport and you train it or play it like the scouts are still scoping you out in the stands. That’s ok though, you’re tenacious and you’re dedicated, and you do this because you enjoy it and it keeps you alive; we should all take a page from your book.
The second person I want reading this is the trainers coming out of school, whether it’s with a Kin degree or a certification of sorts, either or we’ve been culprits in this crime. Not to say that there is a large margin of education because that’s another subject in itself, but also even more inexcusable is walking out with a degree and forgetting your training 101; the acute neural adaptation you were looking for when your hockey players were puking in a can.
There is one caveat to consider though. When training bootcamps, crossfit classes, clients that travel for work, or the busy lives of the general population, overtraining is much harder to control. So there is forgiveness for trainers in these aspects.
Ok let’s consider both cases; the A-Type as well as the newbie trainers and I’m going to bunch them both in together in this blog; One group I’ll teach you a thing or two about training, and the other group, will get a quick reminder on a few things you may have forgotten.
The purpose for training at it’s core is to increase your base performance in all aspects of your life. This goes to your daily life as well as your chosen sport or affiliation; whether you’re shovelling the snow, or you’re trying to increase your speed on the track for the 100m dash to represent Canada. Training at it’s simplest breaks down the body to repair it as a much stronger, and stable structure. But, there is the point of diminishing returns and it usually happens on average between week 3 and 5, considering that we’ve put the client through a physically and mentally demanding stress. For the A-Type, he continues to train yet doesn’t understand why he’s not getting stronger, or can’t run or bike longer distances. He doesn’t see that a nagging lower back injury may have been due to the continual stress at a high intensity during what he sees as an efficient program.
On the other side, we have the trainer that’s hit a plateau. I’m not talking about his own personal goals. No, I mean their clients plateau. Why hasn’t Sally so and so stopped losing weight, or how about Ricky Roo is benching less than week 4? If the trainer’s client is an athlete then this situation is inexcusable, because whatever type of periodization they choose, whether linear, undulating, or phasic, to name a few, there is always a supercompensation curve to be considered. This means, at what point are you choosing to push your athlete into the proverbial hole to pull him back out again in a safe and healthy manner?
Now the regular joe’s a bit tougher because there is a ‘life’ to consider. Joe doesn’t have the time to put towards training, his 40 plus hour a week career, his kids in sports, his wife, and any other extra curricular activities that fill up his week. This brings me back to my school days where I had one of my teachers once tell us not to bother with periodizing general clients because life will always get’s in the way. But she added that if you understand the science of training you’ll know when to push and when to pull back.
What my A-Types don’t know and some Newbie trainers forgot, is that while we look at the body as the machine that’s being built, it is also the central nervous system (CNS) that is being taxed quite heavily. In actuality, consider the human body to be like a Lamborghini, and I choose the Lambo because as it is exotic, fast, and beautiful; in more ways than one it is not unlike the human body, a wonder in itself. The Lamborghini will still be beautiful on the outside if it has an engine that doesn’t run well because the computer is fried. This correlates to a fit person who doesn’t understand why his body aesthetically looks great in front of the mirror but can’t lift the same weights or give the same performance while training for a Spartan race. Simply put, the Lamborghini won’t run if it’s pushed at 220 miles/hr everyday all day and the human being will stop functioning properly if he trains 7 days a week at full speed 2 hours a day; both their computers will crash really hard!
So looking at recovery, you could consider separating your cardio from your weight training. Give yourself 1 to 3 days off complete rest where you don’t step foot in the gym and rather enjoy your life a little. Make sure your sleep habits improve, in other words if you get ready for work, then why not get ready for bed. Research is starting to show improvements in health just by getting better sleep. Surround yourself with less blue light in your life i.e. smart phones, ipads, laptops, and of course TV. Continuously reassess your lifestyle and see where you need to make improvements. Remember that when it comes to your lifestyle it’s a great idea to be a little introspective and look within, as it is all part of your recovery, even analyzing the way you eat on the daily. And finally at the end of your 4 week phase, of whatever periodization you choose, give yourself 3 – 5 days of active or passive rest. This will give your body and nervous system time to heal and be able to ramp up the intensities for your next phase. Remember that there’s a big difference between training hard and training smart.
Active recoveries usually require fun activities, yoga, walks, light hikes, etc. It’s a great way to continue working after your last phase. Passive recoveries usually mean that competitors edge, like a fighter who’s a week out of his main event, they usually don’t enter the gym at all. They need that rest because they’re usually pushing themselves at 110% in their last phase so they need to completely shut down. They need to use this time to meditate, sleep, yoga, anything that gives their body and brains that time to relax and reset. This my friends is the art of the recovery, one of the many facets behind the sweet science of training. I’m scraping the surface to give you a glimpse into what it is you should slowly start to incorporate to your programs and training. Life is too short to wake up one day and realize you spent so much time in the gym and didn’t really achieve anything. What’s more upsetting is finding out after all that time you were doing it all wrong.
Enjoy your lives my friends, train hard but train smart. Kiss your loved ones, and enjoy a beer along the way. Strive for better, and aim for a better version of you always. Until we meet;
Stay healthy my friends…
Your Coach, Franco Gomez