To be honest, it’s pretty rare that we see people over training.
Instead it's more common that we see people under recovering.
In our last post (click here to read it) we discussed how fitness & strength are developed. We talked about how providing an adequate stimulus is the most important factor towards reaching your goals, however, we also discussed the aspect of training that is often forgotten, recovery. Without adequate recovery you’ll be getting weaker, slower & increasing the likelihood of getting sick or injured.
Recovery = your ability to build muscle, burn body fat & develop fitness.
Most people couldn’t care less about recovery & stress management. However you might actually care if you understand how closely your goals and recovery are linked together…
If your goal is to;
Build lean muscle
Drop body fat
Run around with your grandkids
All these require a level of health & stress management. Without having adequate health and your stress under control, you’ll be making it harder on yourself to reach your goals.
So, what even is recovery you may ask?
It’s doing the things you know you should be doing.
It’s getting enough quality sleep.
It’s about learning how to manage your mental and emotional stress.
It’s about nourishing your body with quality food in the right amounts.
It’s getting enough sun.
It’s about breathing properly.
Do these things well & you’re going to see some serious changes to your body composition, strength, fitness & mental health.
Sleep - the mother of all recovery.
“If sleep was a supplement it would be banned because it’s so powerful”
Getting the most out of your training, nutrition and brain starts here. Getting enough can be tough, but should be at the top of your priorities if you want to live your best life.
Sleep is key for;
pretty much every function under the sun.
An example of this..
Sleep less if you want to burn less fat when dieting 😩 - A study investigating the effect of sleep and fat loss found that reducing sleep from 8.5 hours to 5.5 hours saw a 55% difference in fat loss and the loss of lean muscle mass was 60% higher in the 5.5 hour group. Imagine how much longer you have to diet to reach your goal when you could have just got some more shut eye!
That's a huge difference and all you need to do is get a few more hours of sleep.
If you’re looking to take your training & health to the next level then aim for a minimum of 7 hours a night. If you’re an athlete then you may need to aim for 9+ hours to ensure you’re recovering effectively and are able to perform the next day.
Something less discussed is the effect of the sun on sleep patterns, hormones & recovery.
Vitamin D and light exposure is tightly linked with your circadian rhythm.
To best understand this it’s important to optimise your Sleep-Wake cycle. Optimisation of this cycle will lead to increased sleep quality & duration.
To understand the importance of vitamin D & sun exposure it’s first important to understand cortisol & melatonin balance.
As you wake up, cortisol levels rise and continue to increase until mid morning at which stage they begin to drop off as the day continues. As cortisol drops and the sun begins to drop, melatonin begins to increase. This rise in melatonin results in you feeling sleepy and ready for bed
This is the Sleep-Wake cycle. This can be affected by a few simple things:
Lack of sun exposure in the morning can leave you staring at the ceiling at night. To stop this from happening, aim to spend time in the sun during the morning hours. This will help to increase cortisol during the morning leading to increased quality of your sleep throughout the night.
Research that investigated the effect of low levels of light exposure in the morning found that low exposure was associated with increased sleep onset latency (longer time to falling asleep), lower levels of sleep quality and increased levels of depression. Another reason to get out in the sun for an early morning walk.
To recover optimally requires the right fuel, without it you’ll come unstuck and your body will start to put on the breaks. This leads to inflammation, joint pain, possible infections and a number of other symptoms
Often what people perceive as overtraining is actually poor nutrition, inadequate caloric consumption and poorly periodised training programs.
To ensure nutrition isn’t your downfall it's important to consume a balanced diet high in non processed foods and adequate amounts of protein, carbohydrates, fats and vegetables.
Below is a simple way to structure your plate to ensure you’re getting adequate amounts of each macronutrients. Getting enough of each macronutrient will support proper recovery, optimal hormone levels and increased performance.
1 x Palm for females
2 x Palms for males
1 x Cupped hand for females
2 x Cupped hands for males
1 x Fist for females
2 x Fists for males
1 x Thumb for females
2 x Thumb for males
Mental & Emotional Stress
Now if there’s a part to skip over… this is not it!
Mental & emotional stress is by far the most skipped over component of recovery.
What most don’t realise is that mental stress has a very similar impact on your physiology much like exercise.
Close your eyes
Picture the scariest thing you’ve ever experienced
Now make the picture in your head bigger, turn the sounds up and feel what you felt.
Now pay attention to how your heart rate feels, it sped up didn’t it?
You possibly even got a little sweaty.But, you didn’t even move a muscle. So now imagine an 8 hour work day where you’re constantly stressed trying to meet deadlines. This constant stress has a drastic impact on how you recover.
Unfortunately, this stress is often a part of life that we can’t avoid. However, by implementing specific practices and techniques we can reduce the effect of this stress and nip it in the bud.
Diaphragmatic breathing - One of the simplest techniques I’ve found is by implementing a diaphragmatic reset breath pattern into my day.
Any time I notice myself feeling stressed, anxious or uneasy. I place my hand on my belly, close my mouth and breathe through my nose.
I breathe in for 5s
Hold for 5s
Breathe out for 5s
Hold for 5s
& repeat for 5 rounds
When we get stressed often our breathing patterns change, which leads to us breathing in through our mouth and upper chest.
This can often lead to reduced oxygen uptake, tight upper respiratory muscles, headaches, an increased stress response and unwanted activation of the sympathetic nervous system.
To counter this, it’s important to restore breathing back to the diaphragm. This can be achieved by using the above technique.
Hopefully, you’re starting to get the idea.
Recovery is bloody important…. STOP neglecting it.
Start at the bottom and work your way up, refine your sleep routine, increase how much time you spend in bed and you’re on a red hot track to becoming a recovery lord.
We created the the recovery pyramid so you can prioritise which habits should be focussed on first before moving to the next level.
P.s. Stop wasting your money on supplements when you don’t have your nutrition or sleep in order….
Struggling with an aspect of the pyramid? Let us know so we can help you!