Why is recover important? Well, think of it this way: We spend roughly 1 hour working out, but 23 hours recovering. Personally, I’d say recovery should be on everyone’s mind a LOT more. We, as CrossFitters, do a fine job of demolishing ourselves on a near-daily basis, but we should be even more cognizant of how to recovery properly. So we can do it again!!!
I’m going to hit on a few very basic tips on optimizing recovery:
I can’t even begin to place enough emphasis on this; there’s a reason sleep is #1 on every single recovery list. If sleep is not adequate, nothing, and I mean NOTHING else you do will matter. No amount of supplementation, nutrition, or bizarre techniques will take the place of sleep. Why does it matter so much?
The actual process of sleep and athletic performance goes far beyond both my understanding and the scope of this article, but it involves far more than “just rest”. Hormonal regulation and secretion of cortisol, melatonin, serotonin, dopamine, testosterone and growth hormone, to name just a few, are all dependent on quality sleep.
How do we do this? Get your 8 hours. In fact, shoot for 9. Where you sleep should be as dark and cool as a cave. Sleep in a pitch-black room, no luminescent lights, aka cell phones. Get to bed BEFORE 10pm. TV is shit, and whatever you’re surfing on the Internet will be there tomorrow. Lower the temperature. Turn your clock away from your face. Our DNA still thinks it’s 2 million B.C. When that sun goes down, our bodies are programmed to shut down, too. If you’re smart, you eat like a caveman (ohh don’t you worry we will get into this later on…). And should sleep like one, too?
2. POST-WORKOUT NUTRITION
Besides sleep, there is nothing else as important as recovery. And we can 100% control this. In the post-workout state, a multitude of things are going on, and our body is already frantically trying to return to homeostasis; two of these are increased protein synthesis to repair muscle damage, and increased insulin receptor repletion. Simplified? Our body wants to fix damage and build, ASAP. We can help this process by giving it what it needs: Carbs (Coconut H20) and Protein!
I’ve always been a big fan of post-workout protein shakes; they are fast, easy to make, easy to chug down, and offer both simple carbs and fast-digesting whey. While everyone is different, a LOT of folks have a hard time eating a 10oz steak with a side of sweet potatoes and a spinach salad after a high-intensity/CrossFit workout. These workouts tend to crank the sympathetic system up for quite a while, and this causes a drop in appetite. Solution, shaker time., both male and female.
Post-workout you are 1. dehydrated, and 2. have metabolic waste from protein breakdown to H+ (acid) accumulation floating around the body. Replacing lost fluids is paramount to recovery, especially to stave off any symptoms of excess soreness of swelling. And it doesn’t stop in the post-workout period. Come to the gym watered. If you are dehydrated you’ll take a major hit in performance, and you’ll feel even worse after.
How much? HALF YOUR BODY WEIGHT IN OUNCES OF WATER. I like this equation. Why? It works and it’s EASY. So, for me, 225lbs body weight * 0.5 = 112.5 ounces.
4. SMART SUPPLEMENTATION
While I’m hesitant to actually recommend supplementation, I would be negligent not to discuss it. There are a few I consider helpful:
Fish Oil – If you’re NOT taking fish oil…Read, Buy, Take. Repeat, and Reap the Benefits.
Vitamin D – Increased power output, optimal testosterone levels, and enhanced immunity.
Magnesium (Mg) – Mg is involved in pretty much every cellular activity you can think of, from oxygen uptake to ATP production to skeletal muscle contraction. Mg also causes deep tendon and muscle relaxation, i.e. take it at night? Better sleep.
The quicker you recover the sooner you can get back to high-intensity workouts which leads to better gains and faster improvements. In other words recovery is the key element to reaching or not reaching your goals.