Apr 162014

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.



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.



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!



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.

Dec 182013

You can check out the first half of my review here. I was half way through my 8 pack groupon deal. I’ve enjoyed the classes I’d taken thus far. They are a really good workout, thoroughly butt-kicking and the camaraderie is kinda nice.


Here is the final review:

The Fifth Class – “1/2 Isolation, 1/2 Tabata”

I like this format of class because it’s a little bit of everything. It was a fairly small class, about 6 of us. We alternated with the isolation routines then tabata, then isolation, then tabata and finally abs and cooldown.

For the isolation we worked on this routine:

2 arm kettlebell swing

1 arm kettlebell swing

2 kettlebell swing 

The second round of isolation workouts later in the class were:

Deadlifts with kettlebell

Alternating lunges with 2 kettlebells

Rack squats with 2 kettlebells (see the photo example below)


Like I said before, the tabata portion of the class is the fast burst of exercise for 20 seconds, balls-to-the-wall, then 10 seconds of rest and REPEAT! An example of a tabata portion:

Mountain climbers

High knees

Complex burpees (see the example below)


We also did something new to me. I don’t know what the workout was called but we grabbed a plate weight and stood in a wide squat position, kept our core straight and unmoving and then swung it between our legs then up to a neutral arm position. Then we did jumping squats holding the plate weight against our chest. It was hard!


Even though I’d taken this type of class previously, it was still hard work. My heart rate was really high and I was dripping in sweat! It was a great workout.


The ab workout at the end was 100 Double Sit-Ups and 100 Bicycle Crunches. Boy do your abs starting BURNING after you do a few! Ouch ouch!

The Sixth Class – “Warrior Workout”

Why did I sign up for this killer class a second time? I don’t know. But I’m glad I did! It was a killer workout! This time we did partner drills. I was paired with a very nice girl who was very understanding that I was slower than most of the people in the class. The first set of drills we had to do was 20 pushups where we high-five each other after each one, then 20 tricep dips and 20 burpees. It was timed. Then the class did a circuit workout.

The first station was wall-sits holding a kettlebell. The second station was using the boxes we normally jump on to do pushups. The third station was the one-armed kettlebell swing. The last station was chest press or clean and press with a kettlebell. I REALLY liked the circuit. You knew that you only had to be at that station for a little while then you got to move on.

photo 1

The workout was a good one but a killer, too. I was starting to fizzle out towards the end. The next day I went to yoga class and I am so glad I did. It really felt good to stretch the sore muscles and I found that I was sore in places I never expected to be!

The Seventh Class – “The Seventh Ring Of Hell”

I really planned on taking the Tabata class but it just didn’t seem to work out with my schedule. I hope to give it a try in January. So I took another 1/2 and 1/2 class and was surprised that it wasn’t that class. No it wasn’t the 7th Ring of Hell, but it felt like it. I guess it was “Teacher’s Choice” night because we did something different.

There were just three of us in the class so the instructor gave each of us individual workouts. I worked harder in that class than in any of the others. I had to stop to rest several times. There were a lot of chest presses, overhead press, squats, push-ups and kettlebell swings. But I also got to practice with the Battle Ropes!


Never heard of battle ropes? Check out this video to get a good idea. The ropes are so much fun and it is a REALLY intense workout. Your heart rate gets really high and you will definitely feel sore the next day.


If you see battle ropes at your gym, give them a try. I guarantee you’ll have fun!

The Eighth Class – “Fundamentals”

I like the “fundamentals” class because it’s kind of an entry-level type class. It is doable for most people. You don’t have to be advanced, or know a lot about kettlebells in order to get a good workout done.

This particular class it was a lot of squats, squat jumps, chest press, shoulder press, see-saw shoulder press, and pushups. I was dripping in sweat!!


I’m also really enjoying the progress I’m seeing. I feel stronger, I am stronger, and I’m seeing a physical difference. My triceps are STILL  a trouble area. Maybe it always will be. But my biceps and delts are doing better!


The instructor, Ashley, made me go up in weight on the kettlebells at this class. I had been using two 15 pound kettlebells for that workout and she said I could do heavier and she was right. I struggled, but I could do most of it. It was a good reminder NOT TO GET STUCK AND COMFORTABLE, otherwise I won’t see progress!