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Training = Work + Rest – By Coach Joe

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Scenario: Coach Christine yells “3, 2, 1, TIME!” and you flop to the ground, exhausted from one of Coach Raul’s intense 10-minute AMRAPs. You gave it your all and are rewarding yourself with a small break before putting your weights away, high fiving everyone in your class and proceed directly to the change room to grab your keys and you drive straight home. You’ve got dinner to make, kids to take care of, and some extra work to be done.

You get home, eat your next meal one to two hours later, maybe have a glass of water, and then when the day comes to an end, you get your standard 5-6 hours of sleep because, well, life starts all over again tomorrow morning.

The next morning you quickly prepare for your day. Maybe you sit in a car for 30-90 minutes, before sitting a full 6-8 hours at a desk. But it’s ok, you will come to the 6:30PM class at CrossFit Barrie and work out the kinks…even though you swore at Raul every time you sat down at your desk today. 😉

This may not be everyone’s standard 24 hours, but I’m sure parts of it relate to all of our members.

KEEP YOUR BUCKET FULL

Recently, I have seen two great articles on rest and recovery and how it pertains to the type of training we all do. One analogy compares your body to a bank account. You have debits that lower your account (working out, general life stress) and you have credits that increase it (sleep, nutrition, recovery). The idea is that you want more credits than you do debits…otherwise you’ll be running a deficit…this is not unlike our personal finances.

The other analogy compares your body to a bucket of water. You want to keep your bucket full with the credits listed above, but you’re constantly leaking due to training, your job, stress…everyday life. So this blog discusses how to KEEP YOUR BUCKET FULL.

Thanks for the great drawing, Coach Dylan!

GROUND RULES

Anyone who has read anything about goal setting, or even watched a simple TED Talk on it, knows you have to keep things simple and attainable. Therefore, to keep you engaged, I’d like you to simply choose ONE of the methods to recovery I list below to start. Don’t change anything else…just one thing. If and when we create that habit, we can discuss adding another.

WHY IS RECOVERY IMPORTANT?

For each and every one of us, our primary goal in a fitness regime is to be healthy. Whether your current goal is to do one strict pull-up, back squat your bodyweight, or look good in a bathing suit on your next vacation, you can’t do this if you aren’t healthy or are injured. This is where recovery comes in.

When you come to the gym, whether it’s three, four or even seven times per week, you are putting stress on your body. Muscle fibers are tearing and energy is being drained. While I’m making these sound negative, they are actually good things if you acknowledge them and help facilitate the growth.

Maybe after a few months (or years), you’re starting to plateau or you can’t get rid of that nagging injury. You don’t want to stop working out, because you love your hour with friends at CFB, so you continue to come and either push through the pain or modify the workout (the latter is much preferred by the way). But without adequate rest and recovery, your training will become less effective and you will plateau.

HOW TO FILL YOUR BUCKET

Before I give you some tips on improving your recovery, remember that I’m only asking you to pick ONE of these starting today (or tomorrow at the latest!) Why?

Because as those motivating Instagram pictures would say:

“SOMEDAY is NOT a day of the week.”

Sleep

This is your number one tool to recovering. Why else do you think we evolved to sleep for 1/3 of our lifetime!?

Minimum:

*Get at least 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. If you can’t do that, try for a 20-minute nap each day and at least 6 hours. This is where the muscle re-building process occurs.

*Make sure your room is PITCH BLACK! We evolved sleeping in caves and only slept when the sun was down. This is how our brain optimally recovers…work with your genetics, not against it. No alarm clock lights and blackout curtains are a must.

*Turn your phone off well before you go to sleep and don’t leave it on so you can be woken during the night. Airplane mode isn’t just for flying.

Bonus:

*Invest in the best possible bed, sheets and pillow that you can afford. I’m always amazed that people will spend money on frivolous things, but skimp out on something that they spend almost 3,000 hours per year in! Everyone is different here, so pick according to your needs/preferences.

Nutrition & Water

You can have the sweetest looking Ferrari in town, but if you don’t change the oil and fill it with premium gasoline, you’re eventually going to be at the shop with quite an expensive repair bill.

Minimum:

*Within 30 minutes of each workout, you should take the following: Protein: 0.2 – 0.4 grams per kg / Carbs: 0.4 – 0.6 grams per kg of bodyweight. No fat.

For example, I weight 190 lbs (86 kg) and take 30g of protein and 45 g of carbs after EVERY workout. If you’re doing nothing post workout, then you may actually be doing more damage than good to your body by coming to workout.
*Drink water all day (at least 0.5 ounces per pound of your bodyweight).
*Eat within 30 minutes of waking up.

Bonus:

*We suggest you take Omega-3 fish oil (EPA/DHA are the ingredients that matter most). This will help inflammation and recovery. I take at least 2 grams of EPA/DHA and arguably could take 1-3 more grams based on my training.

*Pick an eating program that works for you. Whether it’s Zone, Paleo or macro counting (more on all of this at an upcoming seminar with Ashley), try one and see how you feel!

Rest Days

Many of us do not listen to our bodies. We love what CrossFit is doing for both our physique and our minds and we want to get in as much as possible. This is awesome! As coaches, we love hearing this. But be aware that adequate rest days are crucial to your long-term health. CrossFit.com is regimented about programming one rest day every four days. This is a good guideline. If you’re new to CrossFit, then every other day at the gym is a good start.

Minimum:

*One to two “rest days” per week. This doesn’t mean you sit on the couch all day or don’t do anything active. It just means count any of the following as your active recovery: a light jog; walking the dog for 30+ minutes; a yoga class; or just playing with your kids. Don’t over think it.

Bonus:

*Go on at least two walks by yourself each month. No phone, just nature. Recharge the body and the mind.

Mobility / Body Maintenance

Kelly Starrett (CrossFit Mobility Guru) demands his athletes give him 10-15 minutes of mobility after each training session. For most of us, we should strive for 10-15 minutes daily, regardless. Feel free to count the 4-6 minutes we program 3-4x per week and you are already halfway there!

Minimum:

*Foam roll, floss, stretch, compress, smash. Pick 2-3 body parts and hit them for two minutes per side. A good tip is to pick one thing that’s nagging you, one that you’re working on that day (pre-workout mobility) and maybe one you’ll be working out tomorrow. Or, just pick one body part for a month that you want to improve and spend 10 minutes each day on that. Personally this is what I’ve been doing (my thoracic spine and lats to help my rack position and overall thoracic rotation).

*Head over to mobilitywod.com or go to the youtube page. Type in a body area you want to work on and there will be detailed descriptions of how to tackle it.

Bonus:

*Get a massage at least once per month. Many of you have great benefits…use them!
*Try seeing a chiropractor, an acupuncturist or get Active Release Therapy. These are all cups of water that add to your bucket.
*Take an ice bath or contrast showers. Personally I’m too much of a wimp for this!
*Cool down. Olympic athletes often cool down for DOUBLE the amount of time their event is. For example, Michael Phelps may race for 3 minutes, but then he heads straight to the back pools to cool down for at least 6 (likely way more).

CONCLUSION

To steal the words right out of a breakingmuscle.com article:

“I have met a lot of people who are serious about training. I have met a lot fewer people who are serious about recovery. There is only so much time you can devote to training and there is an upper limit to the intensity you can give on a day-to-day basis. What often makes the biggest difference in a successful training program is the work outside the gym.

It may not be glamorous or fun, but by paying serious attention to
recovery you will be able to stay injury free, work harder in the gym, and make a lot more progress. Often when people plateau it is because they haven’t paid enough attention to recovery.

The training is the easy part. What happens the other 22 hours of the day is where the battle will be won or lost. Remember that when you leave the gym, the real work begins.”

So, whether you want to pick just ONE of the above and start a new habit, or go cold turkey and pick all of them, start now and help improve not only your workouts, but your everyday life. 🙂

Coach Joe