The Discipline To Recover

It is highly common for our coaches to have chats with members that center around gym frequency, and taking time off when one starts to become highly sore and dinged up from overuse.

“I know I should scale back a little, but this is my daily release from all this nonsense in the world.”

NO DOUBT, son.

But while many of us use fitness for our mental health we must also be cognizant that we are also stressing our physiology, and like too much of any stress, there is a limit and it still amazes me that people come into the gym feeling broken and make absolutely zero adjustments to feel any differently. Like, whatcha doin? Newsflash, dog. It ain’t us, it’s you. It would be easy (and profitable) for me to say, “Oh yes you must be here daily, buy an unlimited membership!” Our business involves people showing up.  People don’t show up, we don’t get paid.  But it also involves a responsibility to keep people healthy and your program must includes time off, relaxation, meditation, stretching, decompression, walks on the beach and anything else that lets your body get back to some degree of homeostasis.

You should be treating your off days with as much respect as your on days and here’s why.

The Two Types of Fatigue

If you are the type that hits your training with aggression five days a week, as fast and as hard and heavy as you can on a daily basis with a PR in mind everyday, I have some news for you.

An injury awaits you.

Maybe not now, maybe not in a month, but rest assured the cracks are most likely starting to surface and if you ignore them, sure as shit you will get hurt. If you can relate to any of the following then the cracks they are a showin’.

  • You wake up exhausted and are tired throughout the entire day regardless of how much sleep you get.  You feel the frequent need to drink coffee multiple times per day.  
  • You wake up in the middle of the night for no reason.  Typically an indication of uncontrolled GH levels that are spiking when they shouldn’t.
  • You slash and slash and slash carbs until you are at ground zero.
  • You hang onto belly fat despite working out 6 times a week and reducing your caloric intake.
  • You seem to be stuck on plateaus across the board on a lifts.  Or, you’ve gone backwards on some of them.
  • You lack mental excitement for your daily training session.
  • You’re constantly sore all over, particularly in your joints.
  • You have chronic loss of appetite, consuming hundreds of calories per day less than you were previously capable.

These are all tell tale signs that you should scale it back a day or two.  Train a bit less, eat a bit more and get back to basics.

We typically experience two different kinds of fatigue.

Peripheral Fatigue
This effects our muscles. This is plain ole soreness you feel 48 hours after an ass kicking set of squats. This should entail a day off.  This is a rather consistently occurring phenomenon and why you should be taking two days of rest each each week. One of those could be active rest. A walk on the beach, yoga, a very slow jog for a few miles, things of that nature. The other day or two should be complete rest. Passive rest. Sitting on the couch with your dog and telling him what a good boy he is over and over.

Central Fatigue
This effects our motor pathways and central nervous system. This is the overall sense of consistent energy deprivation that you feel in your bones and typically indicated by the checklist above. This can be acute. A day of heavy squats will also fatigue the CNS. It can also be chronic if you never rest and always go heavy.  On an acute level, we also counter this by your few days off of rest each week, as well as periodization of varying loads and reps over given months. You don’t always go heavy in the 1-3 rep range, you cycle reps, sets and schemes for the best results. Every 10-12 weeks, it’s best to take a week off from any training and let your body not rest, but recover. Again, only really needed if you’re a firebreather. Lay your ass down and let your body recover. Study after study shows nothing but positivity for advanced athletes taking rest and then coming back to perform at an even higher level. You need to let your gains set in. Olympic athletes, particularly sprinters are known for taking very long recovery periods of up to ten days following intense training protocol or competitions.

Make sure you are managing fatigues properly. Both of ’em.

Keeping a Balanced Check Book

I did not come up with this metaphor but it’s one that I absolutely love, where we manage stressors and recovery like withdrawals and deposits so that we can create a balanced checkbook.

Stressors = Withdrawals
Stressors such as rigorous training, intermittent fasting, lack of sleep or a stressful commute to work, although very different in their own way are all withdrawals.  You are taking out.

  • Rigorous training.  The more rigorous the training day the larger the cash withdrawal.  A light or bodyweight circuit will only be a few bucks. A heavy, high volume squat day is much more. 
  • Lack of sleep.  Anything under eight hours is less than ideal. A consistent five or six and you are making little withdrawals each and every day.
  • Stress. There’s no shortage of things to be stressed about in 2020.
  • Habitual junk food. 
  • Prolonged caloric restriction.
  • Macro deprivation.  

All of these withdrawals lead to chronically elevated cortisol, the catabolic hormone that is responsible for breakdown. In regular doses, cortisol is beneficial and needed but in out of control levels begin to work against all of your progress.

Recovery = Deposits
Recovery such as foam rolling, yoga, meditation, ice, a good night’s rest and proper diet are all deposits. You are adding back in.

  • Day off.
  • 8 hours of sleep. Many scientists believe we know more about outer space than the science of sleep.  But one thing that is universally agreed upon is that we need it.  Lots of it.  More than we all most likely get.  It’s the most natural and perfect form of recovery in nature as our digitally connected brains are turned off and in a restorative state.
  • A few minutes of stretching and mobility work.
  • Foam rolling.  
  • Epsom salts. 
  • Massage.
  • Ice baths or spot icing soreness.  
  • Morning or evening meditation. Turn the lights off, lay down on the floor, put some tunes on and just get in your own head for a few minutes with some steady, deep breathing,
  • Yoga. One of the best deposits you can make as you get the double whammy of both mobility and meditation.
  • Proper nutrition. Proper diet and adequate protein is a big one.  If you are constantly tearing down and not giving protein, complete aminos, B and C vitamins then you are in a permanent state of withdrawal.  Fish oil is the bee’s knees, as well.
  • Sex.  

If you constantly withdraw, withdraw, withdraw all the time like a degenerate gambler and don’t ever make a deposit, you go bankrupt and unlike Michael Scott you can’t fix it just by declaring it.

We’re not saying to stop working hard. Just to start working just as hard on your deposits, as well.

-Dave

Thursday, 11.19.20

PSC

First:
4 Hang Power Cleans
10 Goblet Box Squats
(x16 Min)

Then:
10:1
FTF Front Squat
Barbell Push-Ups
100m Run