Alright, it’s over. You did it! You just finished your workout for the day. Great job…Now what? Well, you’re supposed to start your recovery. You know, so you can be fully rested and ready to go for the next workout…?
Let’s start over. Working out is important. Fact. But your workout isn’t over once you finish pushing sleds, swinging kettlebells and running a million miles. You want to optimize your workouts with the appropriate recovery protocols. These include practices that facilitate rest, adaptation and repeatability.
Sounds good, right? Now if you only knew what those things were…
You’re Not Recovering, So You’re Not Getting Better
You aren’t eating enough. Face it: you don’t eat enough and you never have. To be honest, you don’t even know how much you should be eating in the first place. Of course you eat “healthy” but none of that matters all that much when you don’t hit the energy requirements necessary to see progress. You need to understand that if you want to grow you require enough extra calories in order to facilitate more. When you utilize all of your excess energy by working out and messing around at work and at home that you don’t have much extra to build up and get better. Check out this article here about under eating for an in depth review of the topic.
You don’t sleep enough. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the average requirement for sleeping by age is as follows:
- Newborns (0-3 months): Sleep range narrowed to 14-17 hours each day (previously 12-18)
- Infants (4-11 months): Sleep range widened two hours to 12-15 hours (previously 14-15)
- Toddlers (1-2 years): Sleep range widened by one hour to 11-14 hours (previously 12-14)
- Preschoolers (3-5): Sleep range widened by one hour to 10-13 hours (previously 11-13)
- School age children (6-13): Sleep range widened by one hour to 9-11 hours (previously 10-11)
- Teenagers (14-17): Sleep range widened by one hour to 8-10 hours (previously 8.5-9.5)
- Younger adults (18-25): Sleep range is 7-9 hours (new age category)
- Adults (26-64): Sleep range did not change and remains 7-9 hours
- Older adults (65+): Sleep range is 7-8 hours (new age category)
This information can be found here.
Keep in mind this is just the average recommendation.. Alternatively, William and Mary College have a study that says for every hour an athlete is awake and under stress it takes 1 hour to recover effectively. This means if a person who is considered an athlete workouts out hard and is regularly awake for 18 hours they will need a minimum of 9 hours of sleep. Lets face it, if you are not intentionally trying to get those 9 hours there is a low likelihood you’ll get them. This means no Instagraming in bed guys…
You’re definitely not hydrating enough. There are a bunch of reasons for this. Some of them better than others. Most people who can but don’t hydrate enough typically say something like this: “ Ughh, but I don’t want to get up every 5 minuntes to pee, I have a very busy job I can’t be going to the bathroom all the time.” To that I say, get over yourself. You’re being dramatic, it isn’t that bad. If you had been drinking enough in the first place this would not be an issue… Also, this is a post about gains and you not having them.
Hydration is simple: you are either doing it or you aren’t. If you need help with this, set an alarm and buy a larger water bottle. All other excuses are just unacceptable. Here’s a link to a giant water bottle.
Pro tip: Start with an amount of water that is attainable and maintain that amount for 1 week. Example: drink 1 liter (33oz) of water per day for 1 week. Increase the amount each week by ½ a liter (16 oz) for 3 weeks. Once you get here, reassess how you feel and how consistently your pee is more clear than yellow/brown. Don’t assume only water is needed for proper hydration. If you are doing this and you are experiencing things like headaches or consistent cramps during workouts or while sleeping add some electrolytes to your diet. Truthfully, a little bit of sea salt will do the trick. You can follow the same strategy for this, add ⅛ of a teaspoon to roughly 16oz of H20 (or food) no more than 2x per day and again reassess how you react. Simple. Highly effective.
Too much alcohol. If you search far and wide across the vast interwebs I bet you will find an article that says you can drink and keep your gains and continue to make progress! But they’re wrong. I’m not talking about the kind of drinking where you have a drink with your friends once every so often. I’m talking about the couple glasses of wine a night, rounds of beers with the boys every weekend, go to the club because I got nothing better to do type of drinking. The fact is if you want optimal recovery and (let’s be honest) to make sick gains, alcohol is a no go for a regular activity. Check out this article for a bit more in depth review of my take on alcohol.
If you’re like most people, you put too much emphasis on flexibility and not enough/ zero emphasis on mobility. Often the average person misinterprets what these two individual things are and why they matter. Moreover, why the two of them are different at all. Flexibility is typically a buzz word for most people but the question of why you need more is never asked. You have to consider the value of more passive range vs greater control of the range you currently have. Flexibility is literally the increase in assisted range of motion. This means secondary force is required to achieve the desired position. Mobility is the ability to achieve a range on your own whether or not you be under excess outside tension. This is a skill that benefits athletes and lifters more consistently than almost anything else. When thinking about the difference of these two totally separate things just remember, if you create additional or excess flexibility you are only adding more range of motion that you will eventually have to train and develop control over. If you do not do this you are 100% facilitating an environment where injuries are more likely to happen. Check out this article on flexibility for a deeper dive into the subject
Just because it’s simple, doesn’t mean it’s easy.
If you were expecting to be wowed with crazy tips and tricks you’ve never heard, I’m probably not the writer for you…the things you should be doing, for the most part, are pretty intuitive. At face value these things should make sense but just like anything in life, ideas without execution are just noise. If you say things like “Oh I just need to eat more, then ill start getting stronger,” in theory yes, you’re right. If you have no idea how much you should be eating, in what proportions and how to time all of that out you’re going to struggle and honestly, probably fail. Eating more is not easy. Change is not easy. That’s why you need to plan, and then execute that plan aggressively. Don’t be a person who makes blanket statements about things they are going to do or things they should do. No one cares. It’s your life and your body, you’re the only one who has to deal with it.
Don’t Do it Yourself
Most people have these problems, the issue is most people don’t ever do anything about them, and typically get worse over time. You don’t want to be most people.
One of the best ways to avoid being like most people is to get a coach, or trainer. Making these changes can be difficult when it’s just you on an island. You have to analyze the info, create the plan, measure the results, alter the plan, etc. It can be exhausting physically and psychologically. Utilizing a professional in the industry has multiple benefits from the shear experience to the accountability and objectivity.
At District Athletic Club in New Haven we strive to be honest with our feedback and objective with our analysis. With a diverse community of professionals and members alike you are guaranteed to find the support and assistance you will need to ensure the success of your fitness journey.
Regardless of where you go or who you ask, just be sure you do. Save yourself the time and frustration. If help is what you need and an incredible community is what you want, come check us out. You can sign up for a free week here. No commitment, no cost. Just be sure to get involved and meet everyone you can. You won’t regret it when you can look back at accusatory articles like this and laugh.
If not, no worries. If you just want some cool recovery tools to mess around with and some links to find them, I’ve got you for that too.
My favorite “recovery” tools: