The 23 hours of the day you are not at the gym can have an enormous impact on what happens during the short time you are there. Everything that is not training is recovery and there are a few basic recovery tools that can have a major impact on your training. We will touch on them below, and expand on each in future articles.
But before we get into overtraining and recovery, let's remember one thing:
"While insufficient recuperative techniques may be a factor in limiting training adaptation, it most clearly, obviously, and certainly, pales compared to the limitations inherent in not training hard enough." -Coach Glassman
Great athletes are developed on the margins of overtraining. You have to push the boundaries of your limitations - but you also need to know what those limitations are.
The first thing you need to know is if you are at risk of overtraining. For most recreational athletes (not training full time for a sport), overtraining isn't imminent. You may work out 3-5 times a week, but sometimes life gets in the way and you miss a workout here or there to take your kid to a doctor's appointment, or your work schedule dictates that you can't train for a couple days. You're not likely on the verge of overtraining, but you definitely should be taking full advantage of your time off.
On the other hand, if you've been training 5-6 days a week, at high intensity, without missing a workout for weeks on end, you may need to dial it back for a week. "Dialing it back" is not an excuse to be lazy and do nothing. "Dialing it back" means coming into the gym to do a "half-intensity" workout, work on skills, foam roll, stretch, and ice anything you need to. This is, in fact, much harder than just completing the workout of the day; it takes focus and dedication. But these things are completely necessary to remain injury-free and are commonly overlooked.
We have developed a Recovery Tracker that will help ensure you are balancing recovery with work. We have based our thoughts largely on an article Dan John wrote for the CrossFit Journal about how to quantify recovery. It is important that you are not chronically working out harder than your recovery allows, and it's helpful to have some objective data to keep you on track. We have created a Recovery Tracker [Download Recovery Tracker] that we hope will help prevent you from finding yourself in recovery debt. Start tracking this in your workout log to see when you are due for a break. This is also a valuable tool to see what you're leaving on the table. What is your lowest recovery category? Ask us how to improve it!
Our programming is inherently safe since we use only functional, natural movements. We do our best to program safe, effective workouts, but there is so much more you can do to stay at the top of your game. Having a solid plan for recovery is just as essential as having solid programming in the workouts in order to:
- Prevent injury
- Maintain high intensity in the workouts (i.e. keep getting results!)
- Stay mentally focused
We know of some very basic recovery tools (as reflected in the Recovery Tracker) that are essential to reap the above benefits. They are nothing new or groundbreaking, but don't let that make you think these things are unimportant. If you are serious about optimizing your performance, you need to find a way to make sure these things are taken care of.
- Muscle & Joint Recovery
- Mental Focus
The above factors need to be dealt with daily. Just as sleeping one night per week is not sufficient, eating right only once a week is equally ridiculous. Taking care of your mind & body is a must if you expect your mind & body to keep taking care of you. We place enormous demands on our bodies, and the least we can do is show them a little love.
Remember, the results of training don't happen in training, they happen during recovery. In future articles, we will take a look at different aspects of your basic recovery plan to make sure you are getting the maximum benefit from the time you aren't in the gym.
Pictures courtesy of games2009.crossfit.com
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