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.

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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!

suzanne

 

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.

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Mar 102014
 

Saturday Michael and I planned on going hiking. It’s been awhile and I was looking forward to trying a different trail I found near the house. Unfortunately, the so-called “dry” (I use quotes because dry in Oregon means the weather channel is predicting 20% chance of rain) day turned into a downpour pretty much all day. Scratch that hike!

Instead, I went to the gym for the first time in many many Saturdays. I’ve been historically going to the Warrior Room but am currently out of classes and have been too lazy to buy more. I hope to go next week. Anyway, it was kinda nice going back to the gym and doing my own workout at my own pace. I warmed up and then did some weights–incorporating some of the things I learned at the kettle bell gym. I did burpees, two-armed kettle bell swings, one-armed swings, regular squats, pushups and deadlifts. Then I went to the treadmill to do my Couch to 5k plan.

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After the gym we went out to lunch at McMenamin’s (a local restaurant chain) that was near the mall because we were going to Macy’s to register. :) For lunch we split an appetizer of spinach artichoke dip (it was a small enough portion for two) and then we both ordered a salad.

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My salad came with grilled chicken, pickled red onion, toasted hazelnuts and bleu cheese with a raspberry vinaigrette. It was really good! And it wasn’t humongous. Michael got the Cajun chicken salad with bleu cheese and bacon and tomato. I had a bite and his salad was pretty damn tasty.

After lunch we went to Macy’s to register for wedding gifts. I’d already started the process and created a registry with a few things on it just as a placeholder on our wedding website until we got around to doing it for real. I’m glad I did because it made the process much faster. We got checked in with the lady there and we were given a scanner and off we went!

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It’s kind of weird registering for gifts. At our age we already own our house and have most things we need/want. Basically we selected things that have been on our wish list for awhile but haven’t splurged on it (for example: a Keurig coffeemaker, etc). There are things we already have, like Le Creuset, that is just old and beat up. So we registered to replace our less than great cookware.

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I also added a new crockpot to the list. The one I have works great and it’s a good size but it’s old and doesn’t have a timer. I’d LOVE to have a crockpot that you can pre-set and then go to work. There are a lot of recipes (usually chicken recipes) that I don’t do because they don’t need to be cooked for 10 hours…

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I’m pretty happy with what we got on our list, although I will say that Macy’s was lacking some of the things we were looking for. I think Amazon will be the place to go for that. My suggestion for doing a wedding registry right is simple:

  • Eat a meal before hand and bring water with you. Being hungry and cranky is not the way to go.
  • Pre-register online to make the visit easier and quicker. 
  • Dress for shopping–meaning, you’ll probably get hot while walking around the store so don’t wear a big sweater and jacket. The less you have to carry the better. 
  • Have a list or idea of things you want to look for. The store can become really overwhelming and it’s hard to know where to start. But I’d already kind of started a list of things we definitely wanted on the list (like a new kitchen garbage can, a wine rack, etc) and that helped narrow things down.

After an hour we went downstairs to check out the furniture section. Some of those Lazy-Boy chairs were sooo nice! I told Michael we couldn’t get any though because we’d never do anything ever again. We’d just lay back in those chairs….

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We did find one dining room set that we both liked a lot and wasn’t ridiculously expensive (or embarrassing to be add to a wedding registry). We looked at beds and bedding and found some things we liked but things that weren’t EXACTLY what we were looking for so we skipped it. One of the comforter sets we LOVED was this one:

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I scanned it and then we decided to delete it. Even though the red was sexy and the sheets were super soft, I realized that red was probably NOT the color to have in the bedroom when you want to relax and go to sleep. Something soft and gentle is probably better–sage green, creamy yellow, soft blue…Oh well! The search continues.

It was a fun day and the registry only took about two hours. Any longer than that and I think I would have made bad decisions! The nice thing about doing it at the store is that you can touch things and see if it’s really what you want (like towels) and then you can delete things at home after you’ve had time to think about everything.

What were your favorite wedding gifts?

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