Personal Training

Why Recover?

Why Recover?

Guest Post by Suzanne

from Workout Nirvana

I’m happy to be back on Lisa’s blog – we go way back! She’s rocked my online personal training program and even demonstrated her squat for me on the streets of downtown Portland. I was excited when she asked me to guest post on the subject of recovery, a subject I feel passionate about.

I spent years training my heart out without thinking much about recovery. Even though I had nagging injuries and frustratingly slow progress, I just couldn’t force myself to back off my frequent weightlifting sessions – I just loved them too much.

It wasn’t until I became a fitness trainer that I realized that we train hard to recover, not the other way around. Since then, I’ve had fewer injuries and better progress. While recovery is a complex subject and varies greatly from person to person, it’s important to understand how it fits into your training routine.

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Why Recover

With any type of training, your central nervous system, muscles, connective tissue, and joints are stressed by exercising. The only way to get stronger, bigger, faster, and better is to let your body recover and adapt while glycogen stores are replenished and muscle tissue is repaired (among many other processes).

Unfortunately, without adequate recovery and rest, two bad things are likely to happen: (1) repetitive stress injuries and/or (2) stalled progress.

Repetitive Stress Injuries

If you push your body repetitively without letting it recover sufficiently, your body can become weakened and overstressed. If you’ve ever had tennis elbow, plantar fasciitis, IT band syndrome, or patellar tendinitis, you understand this all too well.

Stalled Progress or Performance

When you work out while your neuromuscular system is still in a stressed state, your body simply can’t perform at its best. Your body improves by continually adapting, so if you overtrain there’s no time for your body to build muscle or achieve a higher level of conditioning or strength.

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How Long Should You Recover?

Recovery days should be scheduled into your week just like your workouts. You need to look at ALL your activities as one big picture instead of conveniently forgetting to include that one class or activity.

Resting Between Workouts

How long you rest between workouts depends on many factors – your age, the intensity of your workout, whether you’re training for an event, your other activities, and more. Generally, the less intense your workout, the less time you need to recover. But since this is subjective, having a set schedule is the safest bet.

By the way, if you’re terribly sore you may need to add a day in between your workouts (heat and massage can relieve soreness but won’t speed recovery).

Handling Multiple Activities

If you’re thinking of increasing your activity level – adding a class, starting personal training sessions, training for an event – there’s one rule you should remember:

When you add something, you have to take something away.

You simply can’t keep adding activities without eventually burning out physically. If you’re not already exercising, then add activities slowly and work up to higher intensities.

It’s smart to schedule intense running or cycling sessions and lower-body strength training sessions on different days, otherwise your performance will definitely suffer in one or both areas. In fact, it can take well over 24 hours to from recover from an intense running session, so you might want to think twice about heavy squats the very next day.

If you lift weights three or four times a week on top of other resistance-based activities else (CrossFit, boot camps, etc.), you might be burning the candle at both ends. All of these activities tax your neuromuscular system, and you need at least 48 to 72 hours between strength workouts. (I talk more about strength-training recovery here.)

Resting Within a Training Cycle

Cycling low- and high-intensity period of training (called periodization) is a must to allow your body to adapt and recover fully and then come back strong in peak condition. All it takes is a little planning. There’s lots of ways to alternate high/low intensity:

  • 3 weeks high / 3 weeks light to moderate (repeat)

  • 1 week high / 1 week light to moderate (repeat)

  • 1 session high / 1 session light to moderate (repeat)

You get the picture – you want to vary the intensity of your training so that your body isn’t under constant assault. Not only that but you’ll perform better in the long run.

On your rest days, use active rest to facilitate recovery and promote cardiorespiratory health, such as walking, cycling, rowing, or swimming.

Putting It All Together

Along with allowing time between your workouts and cycling the intensity, don’t underestimate the importance of these factors in recovery:

  • Sleep

  • Proper nutrition

  • Proper form

  • Cross training

Questions? Don’t hesitate to ask. I love helping people get bigger, stronger, and more powerful!

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Suzanne Digre is a NASM-certified personal trainer who leads online training groups now open for registration: Fierce Definition (12 Weeks to Muscle Definition that Makes People Look Twice) and Lean & Strong. With over 15 years of lifting experience, Suzanne writes at workoutnirvana.com, where she shares her passion for and expertise in strength training and clean eating.

Suzanne loves to connect on social media. Find her on: TwitterFacebookGoogle+YouTube.

Landslide & Bike Ride

I started off my weekend right! On Friday afternoon I got another chance to hang out with Suzanne and got a mini personal training session right on the streets of Portland. She wanted to check my form on some movements. She said I was pretty good but there were some tweaks I needed to make on a few. The big one was squats. I thought I had been doing them correctly because my physical therapist had corrected my form. But I was still putting too much pressure on my knees. Suzanne fixed that and I had a lightbulb moment.

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Basically I need to put ALL my weight on the back of my heel and not be putting it on my my whole foot. After work on Friday I went to yoga class and then home to some beer and pizza! Woohoo! Way to go Michael. It’s been ages since we got Papa Murphy’s (since Michael went gluten-free) and it was a nice treat to have it again. He got the deLite pizza (low calorie) and I enjoyed my beer on a hot summer night.

On Saturday morning I went out to test my bike and the changes the fitter made last weekend. It was already in the 80’s at 10 a.m. but once I was on the bike it was pleasant. Michael joined me and we drove to Sellwood, parked the car and picked up the Springwater Trail from there. There were just too many hills near our house in order to test my bike on a flat trail.

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My goal was to do between 8-10 miles of easy riding to test my knees. I had to remind myself a few times to slow down. Once I got on the trail I definitely pushed it a few times because I think I forgot what I was doing. I got on the trail I was so used to taking into work and it was like my body took over and my mind checked out–biking fast and hard like I used to. So I slowed it down. We almost crashed right out the gate because some walkers with a dog weren’t paying attention and let the dog have a super long leash. Michael stopped short and I was able to stop before crashing into him. Sigh. People.

The other annoyance: apparently there was a charity 3K walk on the trail that morning. Probably 100 people were walking, which would have been fine had they cared about anyone around them. The trail is narrow and very very crowded and these walkers decided to walk 7 people wide so no one could get around them going either direction. So frustrating. That is definitely something I don’t miss about the trail–inconsiderate people!

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We got to downtown on the east side of the esplanade and called it good. I was feeling really great. I had no knee pain during the ride–but honestly, this past year of bullshit knee stuff has taught me that I RARELY have pain during an activity–it’s always later. So I was still unsure if I was okay. We stopped in the shade to rest for a moment before turning around.

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During the ride my heart rate was pretty high–between 140 and 150 most of the time. That was pretty high for me. When I was riding consistently I definitely had a high heart rate at certain points of the trail, but not the entire time. I don’t think I was working extra hard on Saturday but I do think it was a combination of not having the cycling fitness and also nerves. Either way, I had a decent calorie burn for the one hour ride!

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We got back to the car and I was dripping in sweat. Thankfully the ride back didn’t have any charity walkers and the trail was pretty clear. I was so glad I went out and tested my knees. I don’t really know where to go from here–only time will tell.

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We got home and did a quickie strength routine together–Michael showed me a few kettle bell moves and then it was time for lunch. It was such a nice day I wanted to sit outside so we went to Cartlandia to get lunch at the food carts. We both ended up getting salads from the Good and Evil Wrap cart. And of course I got the same thing I always get– the Buffalo chicken salad. I am obsessed with that salad. It’s so good though!

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We lounged in the shade and ate our delicious lunches and discussed our next move. After lunch we ended up going to see Man Of Steel. I was disappointed. I felt like the movie lacked soul and passion. There was no chemistry between Superman and Lois Lane. The store was absurd at times. I won’t say too much else because I don’t want to give it away but it could have been so much better. Oh well…

The Next Day

How were my knees? They were okay. I wasn’t in pain but I was definitely tight and uncomfortable. I don’t know yet how to distinguish between normal feelings and abnormal in my knees because things have been so IFFY for so long. I *think* it was just normal soreness because Monday I woke up totally fine.

Speaking of the next day…I had a FANTASTIC Sunday night! I’m still glowing. I met my cousin Anna at Slow Bar for dinner before we went and saw FLEETWOOD MAC!!!! One of my all-time favorite bands since I was a little kid (the other being Michael Jackson, of course–when I was 4 years old and got my very first record of Thriller).

We shared a few laughs, some Bloody Mary’s (fantastic Bloody’s at Slow Bar!) and split a veggie burger, salad and some fries. It was the perfect amount for dinner on a 95+ degree day.

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The concert was at the Rose Garden and it was a sold out show. We got the middle of the road tickets and had great seats! There was no opening band and Fleetwood Mac (minus Christine) was all there and they played nearly 3 hours straight with no breaks. They also told lots of stories and stuff in between some of the jokes. It was very cool to hear about how certain songs came to be.

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The video isn’t great, I took it from my seat at last night’s show, but the audio is fantastic. Enjoy Landslide!


They played all the hits, some older stuff that wasn’t as well known and two new songs. Everyone sounded absolutely fantastic. I was just blown away by how real and amazing they sounded. Hands down, one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to. I am still glowing with happiness! 🙂

QUESTION: What was your highlight of the weekend? Favorite live show?