So You Want to Recover Part 1: The Other BIG 3
Need To Improve Your Recovery Strategies?
So You Want to RECOVER Part 1: The other big 3, what YOU can do for YOU.
When I signed up for Raw Nationals this year, I committed to working on recovery just as hard as I work under the barbell. This meant trying different strategies, finding what worked the best for me, and also setting aside the time to do this in an already busy day.
The biggest three things I think people need to work on and have an honest talk with themselves about before looking for other recovery methods are: nutrition, sleep, and active recovery.
Nutrition plays a huge role in recovery or lack thereof.
The biggest thing about nutrition is making sure your get the proper macros and enough micros.
If you are getting ready for your next race or meet and looking to be competitive, time to buckle down on the quality of nutrition!
Calories! The macros! Those micros!
Eat the proper amount of calories you need to hit your goal whether it be losing weight, maintaining, or gaining weight. Treat your body right. Get an ample amount micronutrients by including several servings of fruits and vegetables each day.
Oh, and don’t forget about hydration. Drink water, drink water, drink water.
Once you have successfully determined how many calories you need, and are eating 4-6 servings of fruits and vegetables it’s time to talk about carbohydrates and using them to fuel your workouts. This is especially important if you are in a caloric deficit to losing weight. If you are losing weight and training, aim to take in the majority of carbohydrates before/during/ and after your training. The goal is to minimize muscle breakdown at all times. After your workout have a meal heavy in carbs and with moderate protein. This will help replenish your glycogen stores(replace energy stores), reduce protein breakdown(keeping those muscles strong & big!), and increase protein synthesis(think muscle repair growth)!
Want to get specific: Aim for ~ .8 -1 g carb per kg of body weight and eat 20-30g of protein.
ALSO, don’t forget about rehydration! After a hard workout start to rehydrate immediately. If it was a sweaty workout I would recommend adding electrolytes to your water or a little salt to your food.
Here is the deal, if you are in a caloric deficit to lose weight you want to remove as much other stress from the body as possible. An easy way to do this is to eat for health. Keep it simple. Do not do anything crazy to lose weight. Plan, follow the plan, and be patient. Do the simple things well and consistently: eat the proper amount of calories, eat an ample amount of fruits and vegetables, get your protein, drink water, and plan your carbohydrates around your training.
MY EXPERIENCE: when I eat ample vegetables and fruits while in a deficit I feel more energetic than when I try to eat convenience foods. I have cut weight without eating for health by eating too few calories and hammering diet cokes. Did I feel like I was performing at my top level? No. I have also lost weight while eating to be as healthy as possible, and let me tell you, I felt freaking GREAT! It took more discipline but the energy levels were worth it. It is all about consistency. One bad day will not ruin you, one good day will not make you. While your carbs are lower, eat them around your training window.
I would take a WILD guess and say that for 9 of 10 people, sleep could be improved. Sleep is vital to recovery. Sleep is when the gains are actually made. When the body has a chance to repair and recover. For the most part people do not get enough sleep. The general recommendation is 6-8 hours. If you are working out hard, and putting extra stress on the body realize that you will likely require more sleep to be fully recovered for your next hard training session. Even if you are spending 8 hours in the sheets, many have trouble falling asleep and/or staying asleep with the constant stream of input and light from phones, computers, and TVs.
I committed to a few things about 6 weeks out from Raw Nationals and it undoubtedly helped.
- Bedtime Routine. Tim Ferris is big on routines in the AM and PM and I decided to take his advice here because, it makes sense. My routine included: rolling & stretching, bedtime tea(also a Tim Ferris suggestion, try it! Yogi Bedtime Tea, 1 T. raw honey, and 2 T apple cider vinegar Tim Ferris' evening routine, drinking Natural Calm, and reading a book.
- Plug phone in away from bed, out of reach. Sounds simple but I generally get up once per night to pee(drink water much?) and when the phone is right there it is too easy to press to check time.. Then see a notification.. Then check the notificaiton… then realize you have been awake for 30 minutes for no reason.
- FINALLY figured out how to shut the light off of the cable box. If there is one thing Brian and I disagree on, its the TV in the bedroom. I HATE IT. However, I am pretty sure I made a deal once for a puppy by allowing it so alas, that damn little light that stays on even when the TV is off drives me bonkers! In the past I have put different things in front of it, such as, a tissue box, a theraband(not kidding), and a sock. Finally, we realized there was a button to turn it off (doink!).
- BREATHING. In general I am a deep sleeper but sometimes have trouble falling asleep. To me, there is nothing more frustrating. I tried to not let it but me and focus on my breathing.
Active recovery can be your cooldown or a day of activity that is lighter in nature and focused on blood flow. An active recovery day can be as simple as a walk or it can be a workout using light loads. This is such an easy thing you can do for yourself!
I incorporated active recovery in the form of walking 3-4 times a week. I tried to walk 10 minutes after any heavy leg session and also walk during my off days. I cannot recommend this enough. While it made my body feel much better it also did wonders for my mind on those off days to get the blood flowing! The blood flowing will help increase lymphatic drainage from your limbs and clear any waste products from muscle damage from those heavy workouts that cause soreness and fatigue!