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Do you consider recovery when following a training plan?

recovery [rɪˈkʌvərɪ]

n pl -eries

1. the act or process of recovering, esp from sickness, a shock, or a setback; recuperation

2. restoration to a former or better condition

3. the regaining of something lost

4. the extraction of useful substances from waste

I particularly like these definitions especially when applied to resistance training. Without boring you to tears with the science, in a nutshell, training=stress. Used in the right way, training, along with adequate recovery, can restore us to a better condition, if we correctly regain what has been lost through training. When we don’t see results with our training programme we tend to think what else could we add to our workouts. Coming from an old school Martial Arts background I was 100% guilty of this mentality. Forcing myself to train when motivation was low, training on top of injuries, hardcore workouts on minimal calories with the end result being a 2 year gap from fighting and thinking I never wanted to set foot in a gym again – bad times. When we don’t see results we tend to think more reps, an extra day training, more miles, burn more calories, more, more, more! Now one suggestion is to increase your intensity, that is, do the same amount of workouts but do them harder, because let’s face it you probably could train harder. But after that is sorted how about addressing your recovery?

To know about recovery you need to know about cortisol. Cortisol is the stress hormone, responsible for the fight or flight reaction, useful for our ancestors when they were being chased down by a sabre tooth tiger, not so useful for us when we get stressed out in a traffic jam and put into a bad mood for the day. High cortisol levels can cause insulin resistance, which leads us to store more body fat. Whenever our cortisol levels are high, our bodies priority becomes lowering cortisol, so you can forget about fat loss, muscle growth and fighting disease but say hello to stress, depression, anxiety, spare tyres around your waist, poor sleep and no motivation to train. We tend to live in a high stress environment these days, work deadlines, credit cards, relationship stress and money issues so when we add training stress and nutritional stress to this the effect is more than likely detrimental.

So now the bad news is out of the way, here is the good news. Manage your stress levels and you will find your results come a lot easier and a lot faster. Sometimes less is more.

Here are some easy tips to help you along the way:

  • Get at least 7-8 hours sleep a night
  • Don’t set your alarm at 5am to go to spin class at 6am – stay in bed and recover better
  • Get a massage
  • Use a foam roller or stretch
  • Practise Tai Chi, meditation or yoga
  • Forgive people
  • Carry out kind acts everyday
  • Go for a walk in the countryside
  • Manage stress or even better eliminate it

For more information on incorporating stress management and recovery into your programme please feel free to get in touch. I’m happy to talk…….

Rob Stevens

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