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What is recovery?

We train hard. We train hard again the next day, and the next day, and the next day. We see inspirational quotes about finding a way. Train through the fatigue, train through the soreness. Pictures of massive muscle bound men and lean ripped girls lifting heavy weights, running hills, challenging themselves everyday… who wouldn’t want to emulate that? Well lets put something to rest right now…. I will promise you, unless you are a genetic freak, this training will more than likely not make you look like those pictures, it will not make you feel better, and more that likely, you will feel tired, achy, and broken down. Why?

The simple answer is that in the gym we break ourselves down. Strength training tears muscle down. Every heavy session, every time you wake up sore, you have basically torn your muscles. Bad right? well not really. You see, the body is smart, it adapts. If it is loaded under stress beyond it’s capability, it can grow back stronger. Well, that’s what all the motivating quotes and photos are saying, right? yes, however, what causes the muscle to grow back stronger? Rest and Food. So, what happens if we skip the rest part? or the right food?

Let’s take a look. Broken down muscle tissue, depending on the severity, takes 24-72 hours to heal from a training session. The nervous system, which is severely stressed in low rep loads, takes up to 5 days to recover. we could get into the details of this, but for the sake of this blog, take my word for it. So if you decide that you want to squat on Monday, then front squat on tuesday… you’re going to be disappointed in the result. Rest allows the muscles to heal from the trauma. Eating the right food and having enough of the right fuel, accelerate this process. If you have the wrong foods, poor sleep, high stress, or rushing back to train again, you will slow your progress and possibly even set your results back. So what can we do to optimize our results?

Keys to not overtraining:

  1. Listen to your body. Soreness and fatigue are always signs of a stressed system. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t train, it just means that you should modify. Train a muscle group that has had adequate rest, lower your intensity if you are already fatigued, start with a good 10 minute aerobic and mobility warm up. And keep your form.
  2. Rest. It is amazing what a good 8 hour sleep session can do for your body. It optimizes Growth Hormone production, encourages Adrenal function recovery, and gives the system a good amount of time to focus on muscle and cellular repair. Less sleep means less recovery
  3. Recovery modalities. There are a few tools that we can use for recovery including cold pools for decreasing inflammation, hot tub and saunas for increased blood flow to the damaged tissue. Supplements such as BCAAs, Vitamins, EFAs, etc…
  4. Mobility work. Tissue work and stretching is crucial to recovery. Look at our blog “What is Myofascial Release” to get an idea of how to work on your own tissue restrictions. when everything is moving well, the body recovers and performs well.

So take the time to understand that you might be getting stronger when you aren’t in the gym. Train hard, but recover at the same intensity. This may be a vague breakdown of what recovery is, but we need to understand that results aren’t just what you do in the gym, they are what you do in the rest of your life. Live to make gainz!

Ryan Golec | Director of Movement Enhancement