Lesson 8: You Must Recover

Equally important to training is RECOVERY. You won’t reap the full benefits of your hard work without it.

I get it - if you are not gasping for air or feeling the burn the workout just wasn’t good enough. To feel fulfilled, to feel like “you did something”, you feel like you need to struggle, even to suffer at some point during your workout.

Don’t get me wrong, I am all for the struggle. I enjoy intensity, hey, I love suffering! But the desire to constantly train at an intense level comes  with consequences. I won’t burden you with the laundry list of injuries, surgeries and physical limitations I now have, but I will share with you my insight on what personally spending so much time at an intense level does to you; like the fact that I’ve now spent so much time realigning my body. And I’ve watched others make the same mistakes!

Here they are:

1. You never feel stronger. All of your workouts become a suffering session because you have not provided your body with adequate time to recover and make the repairs that actually lead to increased strength.

2. Your quality and duration of sleep decrease. If you are always training at high intensities your body is filled with inflammation and chances are you are usually sore. The type of sore that hurts when someone pokes you. You toss and turn all night because you can’t get comfortable and your body never gets into the deep cycle of sleep it needs to repair itself.

3. You’re tired all day. Well duh! You don’t sleep well at night. So you crush caffeine all day to keep you awake. You pound down some pre-workout so that you can exercise like a maniac again. All in the hopes that you will exhaust yourself enough so that you’ll just pass out at the end of the day. But you don’t. And the cycle just repeats itself.

4. You are always cranky or in a bad mood. Well duh again! You haven’t slept!

5. You’re not happy with the fruits of your labor. All of these crazy workouts, and you still don’t have that body you seek! This is because you never let your muscles REPAIR and GROW. You never allow your body to create the hormonal environment for positive change. Actually, since you’re always stressed, tired and overrun, your body unleashes a surplus of cortisol. Too much cortisol creates a catabolic environment. We actually get depleted of our muscle mass and store fat more easily.

6.  You must contend with small aches, pains and injuries regularly. An intense workout program that does not include an intense recovery program will do this. The ongoing pain forces you to miss workouts and take unplanned recoveries. The type of recovery we want to avoid. Ultimately you are resting, but resting an injury is not the equivalent of a planned and strategic recovery from a workout.

7. You eat more than you need, and probably not more of healthy foods.. Since you do not sleep well and are training so intensely, your body needs energy from somewhere. You crave a quick fix of sugar because you are constantly depleting your body of glucose and glycogen. The lack of quality sleep compounds the issue, making you more prone to eat whatever is in front of you rather than making balanced food choices. You justify that extra cookie or whole bag of tortilla chips with the fact that you worked out so hard.

So there you have it; a recipe for disaster, whether you are over-training or under-recovered.

Balance is a crucial aspect of a good training program. You do not have to avoid intensity, you just need to be smart about it.

It’s ok to feel good during a workout - even to finish one feeling like you could do more. Some if not most workouts should be of moderate intensity. You should feel energized prior to, during and after them! You should be able to get a full night’s sleep at the end of the day!

Once you create this balance, the results you desire are much more likely to manifest.


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