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
Recently this past weekend I was privy to doing my Functional Movement Screen (FMS) Certification Level 1 and 2, and being amongst my peers was not only fun but very inspirational. I looked around the room with such admiration at the variety of education and backgrounds all coming together to learn what it takes to help people move better, move often, and just simply move. As most of those who know me, know that my motto is ‘Performance is for Life.’ I always iterate that performance is not just at the elite level but rather in all walks of life! What people don’t understand in this day and age though is that performance at all levels will fail you if you’re not moving properly.
I want you to close your eyes and imagine yourself in a long white smock as you’re building your first Robot! Think of it’s brain as a computer and it’s body is a steel mechanism of moving parts. This robot is run electrically through the wiring from signals sent from the computer to move the robot’s joints and parts. The computer sends signals to keep the joints oiled and lubricated so that the robot learns to move freely with out obstructions, creaking, or the steel body binding. The computer learns motor patterns so that the robot can move efficiently, and effectively within its tasks. But more importantly, the robot now begins to understand movement as it’s artificial intelligence continues to learn all the patterns necessary to strive in this world.
Ok now take that robot which you just took the time to teach movement within the span of it’s short life, and sit him in a chair for 8 to 10 hours a day. Now you’re noticing the robot is a little slower at moving and there’s a little more steel sounding movements due to the oil in the joints drying up and collecting dust. The robot’s body isn’t looking very shiny anymore, and instead starting to collect the odd rusty specs of dust here and there. Also because of the lack of usage you find that for some reason the wiring from the computer isn’t firing signals fast enough or none at all and the steel in the joints are starting to bind a little so the robot isn’t moving very efficiently throughout it’s daily tasks.
You wonder and study the problems and you try rewiring, and you reset the computer and nothing seems to be happening; you’ve broken the robot… The human body spent the first half of it’s existence or more moving. As you’ve heard before we were hunters, gatherers, warriors, etc. and for this last third of human history we’ve become more and more sedentary. Our careers demand hours and hours of sitting around in front of the computer typing, mouse surfing, reading and all other wonderful things that our borne of our jobs. We are now that broken robot but the difference is we are slowly learning how to reset that computer, we are learning mobility drills, flexibility exercises, myofascial release, and so many other fantastic techniques that are putting us back together. Unfortunately in this society We just have to want to move more then wanting to move at any cost!
Lately we’ve been living in the world of low attention spans and high regard for social media and all the poisonous fruit that comes off that tree. Things like 30 day challenges that push the metabolic envelope to sickness, promises of beautiful bodies at the cost of your health and general mobility and let’s not get started on the nutrition fads; that’s a Blog in itself! I was once asked by a very important man from a company I was working at if I just took down people’s goals and built programs for them to work on. I just gave him a blank stare and told him that goals are secondary to me if the people can’t move properly. I need to see how they move and find out what weaknesses lie within and why. I need to see people’s asymmetries and distinguish what sort of corrective exercises need to be applied and how, I also need to assess their strengths so that I can formulate a few of their goals into a program as well to compliment the fixes needed to move better.
This is why I felt that the Functional Movement Screen (FMS) was an important tool to add to my arsenal, and this is why I still feel that those 7 simple movements in the screen can tell so much about a person and what lies within. This past weekend working with friends and colleagues just reaffirmed that I’m on the right path. Clients don’t need to lose 50lbs tomorrow, they need to lose 50lbs intelligently through a program that incorporates their strengths, considers their asymmetrical issues, compliments their weaknesses but still is able to challenge them physically. I always say, ‘do the exercise right and not only will it be harder but will also make you stronger.’ The fitness world is starting to follow in the elite footsteps and move towards function and specificity, and I believe that the the Functional Movement Screen is a great starting block in assessing a client, so that they can get to their goals in healthy fashion. Well friends, I hope I was able to open your eyes like mine were this past weekend; and now for my next assessment; stay functional (healthy) my friends…
Simple Rules To Programming
Interesting isn’t it but with the inundation of workout fads, DVD’s, magazines, phone apps and philosophies it’s hard to understand why it’s still not a simple task for the general population to figure out a program. Ok so everyone wants the secret to the six pack, or those elusive wonderfully tight glutes, and even a pair of great biceps!
The reality is that in this article you will get a little of what COGO Fitness + Performance’ training philosophy is and for those that want a hand learning a little about how to program on your own. Before I start I want to dispel a few things that people constantly use in training and where we at COGO differ. Generally people like to train body parts where we prefer to train movement. People train core with crunches, sit ups or V-twists we prefer planks, anti-rotational cable work, or hip dominated med ball work as a few examples. The reason we stay away from specific body part training is because the human body doesn’t move in one plane rather many planes of motion. Also to add insult to injury (no pun intended) working one body part at a time generally causes imbalances in muscles and joints that lead to overuse injuries such as tendonitis, crepitus, impingements or joint ruptures.
Ok ladies and gentlemen, here are a few rules we use at COGO Fitness + Performance to program for you, but more so influenced by how a body moves, and the technique necessary for this movement:
1. Big muscles before small muscles, for example back, chest, or legs come before your biceps, triceps, or calves
2. Joint mobility/stability (depending on the joint), core stability and muscular strength and flexibility, which means full range of motion in all movements.
3. CORE, CORE, CORE, CORE and stop doing CRUNCHES!!!
4. Hip hinge movements such as squats, deadlifts, reverse lunges, etc.
5. Knee stability such as a split squat
6. Vertical push or pull such as shoulder press, single arm kettlebell press, pull ups, or different pull down variations.
7. Horizontal push and pull, like a bench press, or cable row
8. All upper body push/pull variations vertical or horizontal must be led with a scapular retraction or in layman terms, squeeze those shoulder blades low.
Well there you have it, turn some of those workouts into a superset, and you now know our secrets, or do you? the hard truth is there’s obviously more to this depending on mobility issues, sport specifics, or simply what your goals are that you want to achieve. In the mean time I hope that this might be a good start to learning how to program, rather than running your old high school program for the guys or being so confused in the gym that you run to the nearest Zumba class for the ladies. We at COGO Fitness want you to ask as many questions as you can because the more we teach the more education you’ll want; we don’t benefit from keeping secrets rather we benefit from sharing what we know. Remember that performance is for life and in the mean time;
Stay healthy my friends…