By Zach Columbia B.S. NASM
By now, we’ve all grown pretty familiar with the term overtraining. As fitness coaches, we’re typically more concerned about getting our clients to work harder, as opposed to worrying about them working too hard. However, it’s a common thing for athletes and bodybuilders to overtrain. Overtraining can result in a plethora of issues that along with making you feel fatigued, also inhibit muscle growth.
We all know that lifting heavy stuff results in hypertrophy of the muscle.
Hypertrophy is a physiological adaptation from micro tearing the muscle fibers. As the body repairs the muscle fibers, the muscle fibers grow and increase in strength. Not allowing adequate time for the body to repair the muscles, prevents the muscle fibers from growing and limits the strength that can be gained. In addition, overtraining can result in fatigue, hormone imbalances, and metabolic issues.
Let’s face it though; unless you’re spending over an hour in the gym six plus days a week, odds are you aren’t overtraining.
But, you could be under recovering! Overtraining and under recovering have some similar negative effects, including: excess soreness, movement dysfunction, and increased risk of injury. And regardless of whether you’re a professional athlete, a body builder, or a stay at home mom trying to lose a few extra pounds, under recovering can be detrimental your health and wellness. But what is under recovering?
Under recovering can be summed up like this – Devoting insufficient effort and time to recovery from your training program.
You see, people don’t like to spend time or devote the effort it takes to recover from their workouts. This is because they don’t associate recovery with the esthetics benefits that result from training. Unfortunately, recovery is as equally important to your fitness level as training.
Here’s the deal, recovery requires proper nutrition, adequate rest, and soft tissue work including foam rolling, using the lacrosse ball, massage, myofascial release, FST, sauna/steam room, etc. Without including these elements in your training regimen, your workouts will lack intensity, your form and movement patterning may fail leading to a higher risk of injury, and overall, you’ll move with lower efficiency in the gym and in day to day life.
Here are my 6 rules to supporting your body’s recovery:
- Sleep! I realize we talk about sleep all the time, but that’s because it’s important! Uninterrupted sleep is critical in the healing and recovery process and to support healthy hormone balance, which also impact recovery.
- Eat a healthy diet! Unhealthy food promotes inflammation in the body which not only slows recovery, but also adds to the workload taken on by your body’s systems during the recovery process.
- Take your supplements! Vitamins and minerals are crucial in supplying your body with the nutrients it needs to recover. Protein and BCAA supplements are also helpful if you consistently work hard in the gym and incorporate other physical activities outside of the gym as well. Also vitally important is a fish oil, which supports healthy hormone balance, while lubricating your joints.
- Stay hydrated! Dehydrated muscle tissue is unhealthy muscle tissue. Drinking a substantial amount of water keeps your muscle tissue pliable, which helps prevent tears, strains, and fascial adhesions.
- Follow a well-designed training program! If you work the same muscles every day, you’ll break down muscle fibers and cause the muscle to actually begin weakening. A well-designed program targets different muscles throughout the week, providing each muscle with the right combination of work and rest.
- Don’t neglect mobility! It’s not sexy. It’s not fun… Actually, most of the time it hurts like a mother, but foam rolling and utilizing SMR techniques with a lacrosse ball or massage gun is incredibly beneficial to recovery and preventing those nagging aches and pains.
Regardless of whether you’re a professional athlete, a body builder, or someone who’s just trying to look and feel a little bit better, devoting time each week to proper recovery is an absolute must. While you may not be at risk of overtraining, we’re all at risk of under recovering.