Ever push THIS HARD?
You should! That’s the HIIT (high-intensity interval training) effect – pushing the intensity of the workout a little harder than you want. And now science is FINALLY showing that the benefits of this are not only for the young, and not only fitness-related! BUT HIIT isn’t a tool for every day, nor to be done in the absence of weightlifting, aerobic conditioning and skill training. Balance is key. The harder you train, and the more you train, the more important recovery is.
Recovery is complex & multifaceted. It includes these essentials:
- Nutrition – enough fuel (calories) from the right macronutrients (protein, carbohydrate, and fat) to both give you the energy to train AND repair and recover. Protein is very important for recovery and the right amount of carbohydrate is important for training recovery, not just physical recovery.
- Hydration & Electrolyte Balance – enough fluids, enough water-based foods, and the correct amounts of electrolytes (beginning with salt, then magnesium, potassium, and calcium) are essential for keeping cels hydrated and functioning properly.
- Sleep – 7-9 hours, in line with your circadian rhythm, and including all of the elements needed not only to sleep long enough but to sleep well in all the stages of sleep.
Recovery can also be enhanced with the following:
- Supplementation – pre-and post-workout boosters, inflammation fighters, and muscle preservers.
- Physical recovery aids from outside sources – like massage and soft tissue work, cupping, yoga.
- Self Physical recovery aids – like self-guided stretching apps, percussion tools, LaCrosse Ball work, foam rolling, ice & heat, and stretching.
Coaches Courtney & Sam are actually smiling
because of how hard Marcia is working! ⬇️⬇️⬇️⬇️
The harder your training, the more you have to pay attention to your recovery. The CrossFit prescription, originally written back in the early 2000s was 2 days on, 1 day off, 3 days on, 1 day off. That’s a week. 5 days on, 2 days off. CrossFit has since become more voluminous in most gyms’ training programs, and we estimate that most athletes in a CrossFit affiliate train 4-6 days a week. We’re speaking of the 20-40-year-old age group. As we get older, our recovery needs change. More rest and recovery days are needed. Nutrition and sleep are more important, as is hydration. Stretching is important – very important. We need to do a better job of getting that in your lives this year!
We could harp on this all day. And we will! Forever! At the very least, before your work out try to consume a healthy meal – high-quality protein, high-quality fat, a little starch or fruit and some easily digestible vegetables. If a whole meal isn’t appropriate prior to training, then at least some protein and starch. After your workout, again, protein and some type of starch followed by a meal within a few hours.
Need some examples:
- 1 cup of egg whites and 1/2 to 1 cup of white rice (1/2 to 1…depending on your goals and how hard the workout is)
- One Bar or Quest Bar
- Whey protein powder and a banana
Now, yes, some people can train fasted. But as you know we’re talking about recovery here, and it’s not something we recommend unless you’re already dialed in with your training, and unless your performance AND recovery are already very good.
- protein and carbohydrates again – see above. The bars have some fat in them, so they’d be the third choice
Fuel your training – before and after. Your body will thank you.
60% of your body is water. Before the advent of sodas and fancy-schmancy drinks, we drank water. And it probably came from a well, so it had ground-based minerals in it and we didn’t have to worry about adding things to our water. While water bottles can be found anywhere and everywhere, we probably still aren’t as hydrated as we could be.
First thing in the morning drink a large glass of water – maybe add some lemon and a smidge of sea salt. Start your day hydrated. Water before coffee. If you are outside and active and sweating during the day, you’ll need more water. If you are on a low carbohydrate diet (carbohydrates help your cels retain water, believe it or not), you may need more hydration. We say lead with protein all the time – we should say lead with water and protein!
Here’s a great read on hydration from Dave Asprey: WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO STAY HYDRATED? FOCUS ON CELLULAR HYDRATION
Everybody thinks this is the easy part – unless, of course, you’re a menopausal female! Sleep is so much more important for health, and also training/recovery that we ever knew it to be. Remember your friends used to say “Sleep when you’re dead”?…and now we know if you don’t sleep it can kill you!
There are some basic rules on sleep – many of them mimic ancestral ways of sleeping:
- 7-9 hours of sleep is the goal. Many people like to stay up later but with their work-based awake time don’t get enough sleep. It’s time to put the hammer down and make yourself turn in earlier. Think you can’t fall asleep that early? There are things below to help.
- Sleep in a cold room. What’s cold? Around 65 degrees! It seems cold, but your body needs to drop it’s temp by about 2-3 degrees to fall asleep and stay asleep.
- Sleep in a dark room. Dark means void of a lot of little blue and red lights – like that cable light on your TV, or the alarm clock light. If these things seem to small to worry around and you’re not sleeping, try them. You might surprise yourself.
- Sleep in a quiet room. You may have to work on this if you have noisy neighbors. There are white noise machines that can help.
- Ditch any screen time within an hour of bed – and that may include the TV! Yes, there are blue light blockers and they work, but part of the stimulation of what you’re doing on that screen may be part of the problem. Try a book or a magazine, or better yet, spend the last hour before bed doing some meal prep for the next day (pre/post workout!) or talking to a friend on the phone (talking…not texting).
- Add a quality carbohydrate to your dinner – my favorite is sweet potatoes. They’re healthy, and the serotonin release you get from consuming carbohydrate before bed can sometimes help you sleep.
- Keep a journal by your bed if you’re one of those people who can’t “turn off your brain”. Whatever you’re thinking about, jot it down and see if getting it on paper will release it from your head and allow you to sleep.
There are a few other strategies or supplements that may also help with sleep:
- Hot tea – low or no caffeine. This is a good time to try out some of the fruit-based teas that have dried fruits or flavors in them (apple cinnamon for example).
- A hot shower right before bed. Remember, your body needs to cool to induce sleep. Starting off hot helps kickstart this process.
- Melatonin is one of the more popular and easy to get supplements
- Magnesium glycinate (versus citrate)
- ZMA – it’s a supplement stack off zinc, magnesium aspartate, and vitamin B6. This stack is also known too help with recovery from exercise – a twofer!
- Progenex Cocoon. We’re trying to get ahold of this in the single-serving packets so you can try them. The crux is tryptophan, an amino acid we most commonly think of during thanksgiving – the one that’s in our turkey, and after we stuff ourselves with turkey and too many carbs, we always nap. Well, this is similar but way different! The casein protein powder supplement is, in one camp of nutrition & performance thought, a way to preserve lean muscle mass when you sleep, as you’re technically fasting for 7-9 hours. Additionally, the warm liquid (like tea), heats you up and helps the cooling process that induces sleep. And finally, tryptophan is an added benefit.
Yoga, Stretching, and other recovery aids
Obviously, yoga and stretching are numero uno on your list of easiest, cheapest, and most effective physical recovery aids. If you don’t know what to do, ASK! The interwebs are full of basic stretches for every body part imaginable. You know you. You know what feels sorest or stiffest…start there. It takes discipline to do it, but if you’re invested in your recovery, you will find the energy and time to do it.
LaCrosse Balls and Foam Rollers – again, we have them at the box to use, they’re free…and that’s why we designed that turf area. Use them!
Ice and Heat – some of the best tools! Rotating ice and heat every minute or two for 6-10 minutes can help increase circulation in the tight or painful area. Used alone, ice is for pain relief and heat is for healing.
Massage and bodywork are obviously an added cost, but well worth it if you can muster the $60-$100. You don’t need it all the time, but it’s good to add to your recovery efforts occasionally. There are “fluffy massages” out there, and there are sports and therapeutic massages and bodywork where the practitioner is not only licensed to do massage but educated further in trigger points, myofascial release, muscle energy techniques, cupping, etc. If you’d like a referral Ed and I can direct you to who we use.
Percussion tools. These things are the BOMB. It’s a one-time investment and they range from $80-$300. They look like a mechanical hammer 😂. The original brands that came out were TheraGun and HyperVolt (made by Hyperice). Now you can get these things everywhere – Costco had them recently for $75 with a coupon! The variables that would guide your choice are power, battery life, interchangeable heads, multiple speeds, and noise. They are great pre-stretching tools to loosen up tight or inhibited muscles.
Guided stretching apps. One quick search of Google Play or the Apple App Store and you’ll find a myriad of possibly free stretching apps that will guide you through a series of stretching or movements to help increase tissue pliability and relieve tight muscles. StretchIt is $13.00/month. Stretch & Flexibility at Home is free! We just picked the top two rated – and didn’t link them as there are multiple platforms and so many choices – start searching!
So, there was a lot of information in this post! Pick one, master it and move on. Recovery is more important at our age – we can get away with abusing our bodies at younger ages without much in the way of physical symptoms. But not now.
…one last thing that didn’t fit well into a category. Creatine. Creatine is one of the most well-studied and accepted supplements for muscle recovery out there. In the “old days” the product wasn’t as refined and caused fluid retention and was generally taken by men only. Today, creatine has advanced and it is a safe, inexpensive supplement for preserving hard-earned muscle after training, and new studies recognize it for preventing age-related sarcopenia as well!
Recover well, fit family!