By Coach Elise Perez
If you’re not recovering, you’re not progressing.
The fundamental formula for health and fitness is quite simple: You place a stressor on your body, then it adapts by becoming stronger.
Let’s take muscle gain as an example. Exercise applies a stressor by creating enough load (weight/reps/etc) on muscle tissue that it literally breaks down muscle fibers (creating microtears). Given enough time and resources, your body will rebuild those fibers a little bit stronger than last time so you’re better able to handle the same stressor in the future.
In other words, we break ourselves down to build ourselves up again. We adapt.
The key to this process is the “given enough time and resources” part. We are talking here about recovery. Growth and adaptation occur when you recover appropriately, not when you’re lying on the gym floor, choking up a lung after the day’s workout. If recovery doesn’t match the stress, you rob your system of a chance to fully rebuild. At best, your progress slows down. At worst, chronic health problems arise (e.g. overtraining, lack of sleep, weight gain, etc).
Enter the essentials of combating stress with active recovery, so you can train harder and recover faster.
There are many reasons sleep is #1. Cognitive ability, digestion, and performance are all heavily dependent on quality sleep. If you’re feeling foggy, unhappy, getting sick a lot, or struggling with your fitness goals; take a look at your sleep.
Set up a sleep routine. Limit electronics, choose a calming activity, pick a bedtime and stick to it. 7-9 hours a night is the goal.
If you are getting way less than this, no stress. Adding even 30 minutes of sleep makes a big difference.
Eating quality foods will give your body the nutrients that it needs. A diet filled with whole foods that is as colorful as the rainbow can help to moderate inflammation, assisting with recovery. Feed and fuel yourself well. Listen to hunger cues; if you have no appetite at all, or feel like a bottomless pit, something may be off. And stay hydrated, always.
Start as simple as 3-2-1:
3 bottles of water a day, 2 pieces of fruit, 1 salad or vegetable based meal a day.
Don’t overcomplicate it.
If you train hard, you must recover hard. Tools of recovery should be a part of our routines just as much as our workouts. To get the most out of our training and expedite the recovery process, we must do what many deem “the boring stuff.” That is: Soft tissue techniques (foam rolling and other self myofascial release modalities), stretching, mobility, low intensity activity (i.e. walking), deep breathing.
Begin by implementing one into your programming and start recovering as strategically as you train.
Get out of the gym and live your life
We love the gym, but it’s not everything. Overall lifestyle paints a holistic picture of your health and encompasses all of the above mentioned categories. But no matter how dialed in your training program and adherence is, or how proficient your nutritional strategies are; they all become highly dependent on the overall quality of your life, how you manage stress and your mental well-being. Spend time with those who are most important to you, find more hobbies to love, rest when you need to rest.
The things that make you feel great should be at the top of your priority list.
Recovery is not passive. Actively integrate these approaches into your life and you will be on your way to recovery, regeneration and optimal performance.