Why is Recovery so Important?
An often overlooked part of any great training program is RECOVERY. We always want to allow our bodies the opportunity to recover after workouts and any other strenuous activities. I have two different ways to incorporate recovery into your training routine and I would suggest incorporating BOTH of these to everyone.
First, and the most important aspect in recovery is BREATHING, you should take the time after every single workout to allow your heart rate and breathing to slow and steady to the rate they were prior to your workout. This should be done right after your workout before going about the rest of your day! This is so important because if we do not take the time to allow our body to ‘switch gears’ from workout mode into a more restful state we will stay in ‘workout mode’ ALL DAY which will leave us feeling exhausted. Another term for ‘workout mode’ would be ‘fight or flight’ and we’ve all experienced it, our heart rate is elevated and our breathing gets faster and more shallow, we also experience a big dump of stress hormones when in this state. All these things are just fine in the short term, but staying in that high stress state all day becomes exhausting. To avoid this added fatigue it is important to practice proper breathing at the end of every strenuous (or stressful) activity. Proper breathing should include slow, deep breaths all the way into the belly (below the ribcage)with a long exhale. To start out try inhaling for 3 seconds followed by exhaling for 6 seconds and work up to 4 seconds in and 8 seconds out.
Second, we should allow ourselves REST DAYS, days that we avoid heavy training and strenuous activities and spend time on soft tissue/foam rolling work, breathing exercises, yoga, whatever helps you relax and feel refreshed would be great here. These days allow our bodies time to repair any damage to our muscle fibers from our heavy workouts and come back stronger the next time. Without rest days we will never reach our full potential because we never allow our bodies time to recover fully. If you have been working out intensely for a long time and have stopped seeing results or experienced a decrease in strength or endurance chances are you reached the point of overtraining. Taking more time out to allow your body the chance to recover will provide much better results than crushing yourself everyday of the week. Strength training tears down muscle fibers and we MUST allow our bodies time to repair and strengthen them before we repeat the process otherwise we are wasting much of our efforts!
I hope this has convinced you to add some more RECOVERY into your programs!