With a training schedule that often involves two sessions per day(2hrs each) ,Six days a week,travel 3 weekends per month, and two kids I have learned something about the importance of recovery and how it effects performance. At 41 years of age I can honestly say I am still improving. I am stronger, faster, and more flexible than I was last year or even last month. Every week I am asked the same question by my students, how do you manage to make such quick and consistent improvements in your training? What is your training like? Do you use supplements, which ones? Over the years I have tried a wide variety of tips and tricks to help improve performance and I have decided its time to start sharing them on my blog. At every Agatsu Joint Mobility and Movement Certification we discuss our performance pyramid model and point out that the foundation is built on Nutrition and Recovery. Without that base well established your training and performance will never reach its potential. With this blog I am going to share my approach, my results and my philosophy on establishing a lifestyle that creates a life that like a great wine improves with age.
As I travel around the world giving seminars I see more and more people who are burnt out, on the verge of exhaustion pushing themselves in a vain attempt to reach their fitness goals. Their frustration is written on their faces and the effects of poor recovery marks their performance in competitions and training. If you want to perform like a finely tuned machine then you have to put in the work not only in the gym but at home, at the dinner table, and in every facet of your life that can either build you up or tear you down. In short, you have to really “want” what you claim to want.
Wanting is easy…everyone wants to be great until they find out what it takes to get there. There is a big difference between “wanting” and “liking.” I would like to be able to run up a wall and do a back flip. Its a cool move and would be a ton of fun to do in front of my kids. I don’t really “want” to do it. When I say “I would like” to do it what I am really saying is “I would like to magically wake up with this ability that I don’t really want to put in the time and effort to develop.” That’s the truth, its just not that important to me as a goal and I know it. What I find with many clients and students I meet at seminars and at my gym is that when they talk to me about their goals they aren’t honest with themselves about what they really want and what they simply like. If there is something I “want” nothing is going to stand in my way of making it a reality. I am going to do what it takes to get it, learn it. or experience it. I will be 100% focused and determined to do what must be done because I WANT IT. I’ve made it a priority in my life and I have decided that it is worth my energy, my time, and all the scarifies that come with achieving it. If it isn’t worth all that then I can leave it by the way side without a second thought.
What does all this talk about wanting and liking have to do with the 5 secrets to a faster recovery and better performance? Everything. If you don’t understand and I mean really understand what it means to say you want something and what it takes to get it then nothing in this list will matter to you. If you aren’t ready to commit fully to your goals you will find excuses, compromises, and flat out rejections for each of the following tips. Change if any will be minimal for you because to be honest you don’t want it bad enough. Improving performance can be simple, small but important chances can bring huge rewards if you apply them consistently over time and with focus. These are my top 5 recover tips, they have helped me and I know they will help you if you are ready to get serious about your training and that means getting serious about your recover. A tired mind and a tried body get little from a hard training session. Great gains come to those who prepare their minds and bodies to do battle in practice and come prepared to give 100% to every minute in the gym.
Top 5 Secrets of Faster Recovery & Better Performance
- Sleep– Its simple, we need sleep. Yes even you “Mr. I only sleep 4 hours a night and I feel fine.” Bullshit, you don’t feel fine. If your sleep deprived in denial self is managing decent gains in training now imagine how you could perform if you were getting better quality sleep)Your body needs you to get to sleep at a decent hour so that your sleep cycle will be long enough to have a meaningful impact on your training. We break ourselves down in training and recover and rebuild during sleep. Human growth hormone is released during this important time and necessary for our recovery. If you are hitting the sack at midnight and getting up at six to train clients you aren’t getting enough quality sleep to really improve performance. If you want to improve the quality of your sleep you need to create nighttime rituals that will help and don’t hinder. Turn off all electronics by an hour before bed time. Seriously, turn them off. That means putting away your phone, tablet, and even your TV should be off. Your bodies production of melatonin (sleepy time trigger) is hindered when we continually expose ourselves to artificial light. If you have a hard time getting to sleep late night electronic use may be to blame. Along with turning off your favorite electronic distractions you should make sure that you are sleeping in the dark. Not a dimly lit room with a bright alarm clock, computer light, phone charger light etc, I mean dark, the kind of dark you wish you had after you wake up and see the person you drunkenly brought home from the bar the night before. Everyone knows that kind of dark, I am talking coyote ugly dark!
- Eat Real Food-I don’t care if you are a vegetarian or a carnivore everyone should do their best to create a diet full of real food. What is real food? Real food doesn’t have 15 ingredients and comes in a box. I know what you are going to say, you love tasty box food. Ok, you can love it, you may occasionally eat it but if the foundation of your nutrition revolves around highly processed foods then you are simply feeding for fun and not for fuel. I am not saying you can’t enjoy a cookie now and then or your fav pizza I am simply saying don’t be an asshole. An asshole kills themselves in training and then undoes all of their hard work at the dinner table. Two steps forward in training and five steps backward at lunch. Don’t be an asshole, love and respect your effort in the gym enough to support it when you eat. Make choices that move you toward your goals and not away from them.
- Combine Fascial Stretch Therapy with Flexibility Training- Training tightens and if you aren’t doing something to balance all of this tightening you are setting yourself up for injury and poor performance. We need to stretch but first we need to work the fascia. Think of fascia as a web around your muscles if it is tight and compressing everything you won’t be able to effectively stretch those tired tight muscles. Its like the tin man taking a yoga class. You can get that metal armor moving, make some space with fascial stretch therapy and then once you have opened up some space you need to own it by stretching and moving in new ranges of motion.
- Know when to hold em and know when to fold em! I see more hard working and dedicated people spinning their wheels in the gym than I see lazy ones. People often fail to reach their goals not because they aren’t working hard but because they aren’t working efficiently. As the old saying goes “failing to plan is planing to fail.” If you think you are going to go into the gym day after day and go balls out, hit PR’s constantly and make gains week after week you are crazier than a Justin Beiber fan. Working hard means working smart. All good training programs must involve peridization, a plan set up and designed for success that includes peaks and valleys. You build intensity over for example a four or six week cycle, peak giving your maximal effort and then have a recovery week. No one, and I mean no one I know goes in and maxes out every day and makes gains. They plan, they build and yes they even adjust. You have to know when to hold them and know when to fold them. There are times when I walk in my gym and have to modify or even scrap the plan for the day. I have to make changes depending on whats possible that day given time constraints, possible injuries or even fatigue. One of my Kettlebell students Mark Johnson an elite pole vaulter in Iceland shared with me something great that one of his coaches told him, “don’t sacrifice tomorrows training for today.” Some days you don’t have it, you can scale back, work differently and save yourself for tomorrow when you will be ready to give 100%. Pushing hard is necessary to make gains but so is knowing when to back off and train smarter not harder.
- Supplements-Understanding nutritional supplements can be more challenging than figuring out the opposite sex. There are countless products all making wild and often seriously exaggerated claims. I have had great results with some and found others to be a waste of time and money. Through years of experimentation, mixing and matching I can found ones that work for me and my students. Along with a balanced diet and lifestyle these products can do what they are intended to do, they will “supplement” your training and other hard work as a support to those things. Until you get the first four recovery tips in check there is no point to discuss supplements as you won’t be supplementing a strong foundation. Get to work on everything else in this article and in the next one we can take a look at some nutritional supplements that will help you get the most out of your training.