Recovery: the most overlooked aspect of a training program


Without proper recovery, no amount or type of exercise can help you achieve your goals.  Whether you are training for fat loss, muscle size, endurance…….it makes no difference.  Your body does NOT get stronger from lifting weights, it does NOT get get bigger, faster, or drop body fat from working out.  It does all these things from RECOVERING from working out.  Your adaptations take place after the exercise.   For example, research has been showing that high intensity interval training drops body fat more efficiently when compared to long, slow cardio.  You actually burn less calories during the intervals, yet you lose more weight because your body is still mobilizing fat when you are recovering hours after the workout.

  • You need at least 48 hours for your muscles to recover from a resistance bout.  This may vary slightly depending on the individual.  Just because you aren’t sore, dosen’t mean that your body is ready to take on more exercise.  Constantly exercising the same muscle without letting it properly recover can actually lead to reduced strength and injury.
  • Proper postworkout nutrition. As I spoke about in other posts, without proper nutrition your body cannot adapt.  When you exercise, your body goes into a catabolic state (breaking down muscle).  Proper nutrition, including protein/carb after a workout is essential to get into building and recovery mode.  Staying hydrated is just as important.
  • Sleep!  This is when your body really goes to work on adapting to your exercise.  Muscle recovers, energy stores are stocked back up, and your mind is cleared for the next tough workout.  Losing sleep will raise the catabolic hormones, including cortisol, and will make gains impossible.  It is like driving with the E brake on.
  • Speaking of cortisol, chronic stress can put a shreeching halt on your gains.  Stress will keep your body in a state that makes positive changes impossible.  The hormonal changes when you are stressed makes for a poor environment for exercise recovery.

Everyone has busy lives.  Things get in the way of your program. It will happen, and if you aren’t prepared it will derail you.  Just as we discuss exercises, sets, reps, supplements, we must add recovery as an additional category that must be programmed for.  Rearrange your schedule to get a few hours of extra sleep.  If you are stressed, find ways to reduce your stress, like massage, yoga, or just an extra 10 min in the morning of relaxation.  Not getting the proper recovery is wasting the hard work you are putting in at the gym.

My hound dog knows the value of a little R&R.  He gets tired just looking at a kettlebell!