The final step in getting serious about training results is to maximize recovery. After all, it’s not what you do in the gym that counts – it’s how well you recover outside the gym that really matters!
#1 – Get more quality sleep.
This is a brutally simple tip that people tend to forget about. Sleep is cheap, easy and extremely effective.
If you’re not maximizing your sleep quality, read the post below first and foremost.
#2 – Joint and soft-tissue health
Joint and soft-tissue health is a key component to staying healthy and taking your physique to the next level.
You really have several options when it comes to soft-tissue health, and the price ranges from 10-20 bucks, to quite a bit more.
Self-Myofascial Release is not only cheap, but easy to perform as well. If you sign-up for our newsletter in the upper right hand corner, you’ll get immediate access to my 47-page manual on self-myosfascial release with a foam roller, lacrosse ball, and other implements.
While SMR is cheap and easy, more intensive methods such as massage and/or Active Release Technique (ART) can really take your soft-tissue quality to the next level. Massage tends to be a bit more general and total-body in nature, while ART is typically very focal and addresses specific soft-tissue restrictions, adhesions, and fibrotic tissues.
If you’re interested in finding a provider, below are two great resources:
Once soft-tissue health has been addresses, focused mobility and stability training is in order. Obviously, products like Magnificent Mobility and Inside-Out are great, but they are also a bit more narrow in scope.
Again, Assess and Correct is your best option here as you’ll be able to evaluate yourself, determining your specific limitations and what you need to address. Furthermore, this will help you determine what soft-tissue restrictions you’re presently suffering from and how to address them!
Finally, static stretching is an often forgotten component of training. I’ve actually written a two-part series to help you fast-track your progress and recovery. Here are the links:
One note on the stretching routine: I would no longer include stretching for the spinal erectors, and I wouldn’t recommend leaning forward when stretching the adductors. On ALL stretches, focus on staying tall through the spine and a natural curve in your lower back.
#3 – Determine your recovery from training
The easiest way to determine your recovery on a day-to-day basis is to measure your resting heart rate first thing in the morning.
Start by getting a baseline of 7-10 days. Before getting out of bed in the morning, either take your own heart rate or use a pulse oximeter to do it for you. Note your average for this 7-10 day period.
Next, the goal is to see how your training and recovery programs are influencing your resting heart rate. Times of increased stress and/or poor recovery will be marked by an increase in resting heart rate, while times of decreased stress and/or good recovery will be marked by a decrease in resting heart rate.
This really is an expansive topic, so I’ll try and write up a really high quality article about it in the future.
#4 – Nutrition
Nutrition absolutely plays a role in the recovery from your training. While I covered most of this on the “Eat” page, let’s briefly discuss how each of the various macronutrients help your body recovery and prepare you for ensuing workouts.
Proteins are made up from amino acids, and are typically found in animal-based foods (although you can get some protein from plant sources as well). Protein is critical in the repair of body tissues, especially muscle.
Carbohydrates (or carbs) are made up from sugars, and are typically found in fruits, vegetables and and grains. Carbs are a critical fuel source for your body – while you CAN use fats and protein as fuel, carbohydrates are the most easily used, especially during high-intensity exercise.
Fats are made up from glycerols and fatty acids and typically found in meats and oils. Fats are primarily used for fueling the body and developing various hormones, such as testosterone.
This is one of the biggest drawbacks of fad diets that exclude a specific macronutrient (i.e. low carb, low fat, etc). Each macronutrient plays a critical role in the development and recovery of your body. Rather than excluding fat, protein, or carbohydrates from your diet, a more efficacious approach would be to moderate and balance consumption.
#5 – Training
Just like diet plays a role, so does your training.
Are you over-training? Doing too much volume and/or intensity within your workouts?
A rule I tend to focus on is that you should do just enough damage to stimulate the muscle, not induce so much damage it takes you a week or two to recover.
Here are some basic rules to aid in recovery:
- Try and take at least one day off in-between training session. Obviously if you’re training 4 times per week this isn’t possible, but try and get as much rest in between training sessions as possible.
- Vary the level of your training stress from week-to-week. Instead of going hard and heavy every single week, consider “waving” your intensity from week to week. Let’s say you’re squatting over the course of a 4-week cycle; your training program might look something like this:
- Week 1 (Intro) – Use a weight where you still have an extra rep or two in the tank.
- Week 2 (Load) – Use a weight where you still have one extra rep in the tank.
- Week 3 (Deload) – This week you’ll typically cut your volume (sets and reps) as well as the intensity (weight used). More on this below.
- Week 4 (PR) – Use a weight where you really have to push for the last rep on your last set.
- Every 4-12 weeks, take a deload week. This is characterized by a decrease in training volume (generally 60% of your highest training week), and a slightly reduction in intensity, or weight used, as well. For example if you’re doing 3×10 in your highest volume week, you could perform 2×10 in your deload, or 3×6.
- Typically, beginners will need to deload less frequently than intermediate or advanced lifters. Beginners are typically good with a deload every 8-12 weeks, while advanced lifters typically need a break every 3-4 weeks.
#6 – Minimizing Stress
Minimizing stress is a key component of recovery and getting results in the gym.
Far too often, people assume that the reason they aren’t succeeding in the gym is due to their training program. All this while they’re going through a divorce, their family pet just died, and work is more stressful than ever!
When it comes to stress, the goal should be to minimize outside stressors whenever possible. ALL negative stress affects the body in a similar fashion, whether it’s training related or not.
At the end of the day, if your going through a particularly stressful time in your life, one of the smartest things you can do is cut back on your training and afford your body the time it needs to recover appropriately.
#7 – Meditation
One key component of my recovery program is meditation. I not only meditate to improve my overall focus, but to lower stress and keep me focused on my goals.
Meditation has many perceived benefits, just a few of which are mentioned below:
- Decrease in respiratory rate.
- Decreases muscular tension and headaches.
- Improves relaxation and reduces stress.
While some people have negative connotations of meditation in general, I’ve found that adding this into my routine has greatly improved the quality of my training, as well as my focus. If you’re interested in the meditation series I use, you can find it via the link below: