Updated: Apr 13, 2021
What do you see the most in the fitness industry? Whether it is from a social media influencer or a professional athlete, all you see is their workout. The message is clear: work hard and grind every day to get better.
But what about behind the scenes, the time spent not working out or training?
That time is considered recovery time. Recovery is often left out of the conversation when it comes to training even though it is just as vital to your progress as the training session itself.
During a training session, whether you are using bands, weights or machines, or performing a conditioning workout, you are intentionally creating micro damage to your muscles and surrounding tissues. This damage is typically done in a controlled environment, on purpose, with the intention that the muscle will repair itself larger, stronger and more conditioned. The body naturally adapts to the physical stressors it is given.
It may surprise you to learn that we do not gain progress during our training session, we actually regress. As seen in this graph an individual's level of performance ability declines after training. It is only after that session, if we can give our bodies the proper environment to promote recovery, that we see optimal progress. That optimal progress is termed super-compensation.
I will touch more on this topic in another post.
So, what does a proper environment look like to promote recovery?
The key elements to recovery after training sessions are sleep, hydration, nutrition and light aerobic physical activity. There are of course other tools and strategies people implement to boost their recovery such as manual therapy (massage), foam rolling, cryotherapy (temperature) and supplementation to name a few. However, the four key elements stated above are far more universally recognized and implemented.
Adequate sleep is the number one key element that aids recovery. Both sleep quantity and quality are aspects that need to be considered when on the topic of improving recovery from exercise. When we are asleep our bodies go into an accelerated state of repair and recovery, beyond that of our waking hours. We see this in the muscles and surrounding tissues but, more importantly, we see this in our nervous system.
Hydration and nutrition are also major key elements of recovery as our systems depend on these substances to not only function but also to repair. If you are using poor quality building blocks (i.e. nutrition) for a foundation then the structure or building will be of poor quality as well.
The fourth key element mentioned above is not as crucial as the first three but it could be still used as a tool to promote healthy and faster recovery in the body. Light aerobic physical activity, which could be a number of things, will help promote circulation of the blood and promote mobilization of “junk” within the body that needs to be filtered out. This filtration will occur naturally on its own however performing light aerobic physical activity will speed up that process which will shorten the time that your body needs between training sessions.
A mixture of these components will promote the environment your body needs to recover. Being mindful of and improving the quality of these four key elements will help boost your recovery and ensure your body is ready for the next training session. The better you recover, the more stress your body can handle and build upon. This allows you to hit your body with another stressor or training session without being weighed down by your previous session.
Do you want to learn more about the four key elements and how to improve the quality of each? Contact Andrew at FSAthletics.firstname.lastname@example.org to talk!