Is Your Bucket Full? 3 Tips for Better Recovery
Recovery is arguably the most important piece of the puzzle when it comes to performance.
Yet, it is often the most overlooked component of training.
We live in a world where there are so many demands on us to be more, do more and we give so much of ourselves to others that we forget to take care of ourselves.
There is a saying “You’re only as good as you are recovered.”
Meaning if you’re only 60% recovered from your previous training session then you will only be 60% ready to perform in your next training session.
Therefore, if you are constantly worn down, fatigued, injured then you clearly aren’t able reap the benefits of your training.
Many of us mistakenly believe that it’s the actual training that makes us better. In reality though, our training is breaking down our muscles. It’s the quality of our recovery where we reap the benefits of all our hard work in the gym.
Recovery isn’t just going to happen – just like your training you need to put thought and effort into it.
I’ve had to learn this lesson quickly since retiring. As a professional player, recovery was essentially “built in” for me. I was getting paid to recover properly and consistently perform at my best. Plus, I had unlimited resources at my finger tips ranging from massage therapists to chefs to ensure my success.
Unfortunately, professional athletics isn’t the real world though, and I’ve had to actively create a schedule and hard deadlines for myself to have a balanced and stressed free life.
This is something I talk a lot about with my athletes. Most are conditioned to go, go, go and only believe they’re getting a good workout if they’re drenched in sweat and huffing and puffing. I have to constantly educate them on refilling their bucket.
With that said here are my top 3 recovery methods:
This is an obvious one – but one that many people over look. With the thinking, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead and the constant attention on our phones and social media it seems sleep is the first thing to take a hit. The body repairs itself when it is at rest so the more sleep the more time it has to recover. It is easy to recommend 7-8 hours of sleep but it is important to figure out what is optimal for you based on your training volume, stress, and age.
One book I always recommend to my athletes is Sleep Smarter: 21 Essential Strategies To Sleep Your Way to A Better Body, Better Health, and Bigger Success by Shawn Stevenson. He just put out an updated version that includes a 14-day plan that helps you get on the right track with your sleep.
If you are breaking down your body and muscles then it is obvious that you need to rebuild them as well. Do this by eating real food and eating more of it. Start by making sure you are eating enough. If you are underrating you will never recover adequately. This can’t be stated enough. Pita chips and hummus are not a meal. You’ll be surprised how much food you’re actually are able to eat if you make higher quality food choices. To hone in on this point – eleven potato chips is about 150 calories where one cup of sweet potatoes is 115 calories. Eat to perform.
Long Duration – Low Intensity cardio:
My good friend and mentor, Mike Robertson talks about this a lot. Low intensity cardio has gotten a bad rap because all we hear about is HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) and that good training session is one that includes blood, sweat, and tears.
If you look at the big picture though, your body can’t go 100% all of the time. In fact, if you build in some low intensity cardio session you will be primed to go harder more often as it will aid in your recovery and allow your body to build a bigger base when it comes to your aerobic capacity. Don’t think this type of recovery only includes long runs or bike rides – come up with some low intensity circuits of your favorite exercises – get creative.
There you have it – my top 3 recovery methods. There are many more important recovery methods but these are the ones that I use most often with my athletes and in addition to my own training as well. If any of these methods are new to you don’t try to build Rome in a day. Start small by incorporating one at a time and then slowly add in a bit more over time to ensure you are keeping your bucket full.