The importance of recovery is often overlooked when planning a training schedule. It is easy to focus on the more obvious training variables such as Frequency, Intensity, Time (Duration) and Type of exercise, also referred to as the FITT principle.
The above variables form the building blocks of any effective exercise programme. Progressive overload in training can provide the stimulus required to improve any given component of fitness (e.g. cardiovascular stamina, muscular strength, flexibility etc.). The extent of any adaptations / improvements, however, are influenced by many factors, including recovery.
Following a training session, there is a period of fatigue, during which the body adapts to the stress imposed upon it. The nature and degree of physical exertion during the session will determine how long the fatigue lasts for and how soon the athlete will be ready to train again. Failure to allow adequate recovery following training sessions can result in a dampened response to the training stimulus and increase the risk of injury. Other factors that impact upon the quality of recovery and extent of training adaptations include; sleep quality, dietary intake, hydration level, fatigue and environmental conditions.
At CrossFit Leyland our class programming revolves around a training week incorporating FIVE training days and TWO rest days. Our regular CrossFit classes take place on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Although we offer other classes on a Thursday and Sunday, we believe that for the general population, 5 training days and 2 rest days is a good balance to stress the body and yet still allow sufficient recovery.
Monday – Day 1 CFL class programme
Tuesday – Day 2 CFL class programme
Wednesday – Day 3 CFL class programme
Thursday – Rest Day
Friday – Day 4 CFL class programme
Saturday – Day 5 CFL class programme
Sunday – Rest Day
Failure to achieve the desired response from your training programme is one thing, but when inadequate recovery from training starts to have a detrimental impact on performance and health, then it may be time to re-evaluate the balance of your programme. We can loosely identify FOUR training states that an athlete may experience (as depicted below);
Needless to say, if you find yourself at either end of this continuum it isn’t good news for your performance and potentially your health. Given the topic of this blog being ‘recovery’ we’ll focus a little more on ‘Overtraining’.
Overtraining is a prolonged fatigued state (physically and mentally) as a result of an increase in training. There is a fine balance between overreaching and overtraining. The body can only take so much repeated fatigue with inadequate recovery, before it starts to break down. Unlike overreaching, where recovery can take up to a couple of weeks, the development of overtraining syndrome could take over a month of complete rest to recover.
Consequences of overtraining include;
- Reduced performance
- Stress hormone responses
- Chronic tiredness / insomnia
- Low mood / depression
- Frequent illness
- Low motivation
- Lack of progress
The average CrossFitter who participates in 3 – 5 classes per week, shouldn’t have a problem with the training load, providing it is pitched at a suitable level by the coach. The problems arise when you are training hard every day, without an awareness of your training load, or your body’s reaction to the training stimuli. The response to a training stimulus is entirely individual and will depend on many factors including the athlete’s current level of conditioning and training age (years of training experience).
DOMS (delayed onset of muscle soreness) is par for the course when overloading the body and it doesn’t mean that you can’t continue to train with a little stiffness in the muscles. You should, however, consider your overall level of fatigue from day to day, week to week and keep a flexible training schedule. Sometimes an impromptu rest day can do more good than a pre-exhausted training session.
A sure fire way to improve your recovery between training sessions is to get good at the basics;
1. Post Workout Nutrition.
Aim to consume a post workout snack within 30 mins of finishing a training session. The snack should ideally contain sources of carbohydrate and protein. It is also important to replenish fluids and electrolytes lost through sweat.
Aim to go to bed at the same time each night to establish a consistent circadian rhythm. 8+ hours of quality sleep is of huge benefit to recovery.
3. Consume enough calories.
There are plenty of fitness apps that will help you estimate your individual caloric requirements (e.g. myfitnesspal) . This will also depend upon whether you are trying to lose, maintain, or gain weight.
4. Relax, Stretch & Breathe!
Focused deep breathing is proven to have an immediate impact upon physical and mental wellbeing. Take time to stretch and reduce tension in the muscles.
5. Active Recovery + Massage
Rest days don’t have to be boring! Take the opportunity for some active recovery e.g. a gentle walk, bike, swim, yin yoga etc. This will help to ease the aches and pains from training and speed up recovery! Massage is a great way to reduce muscular tension and reduce the likelihood of strains.
We are fortunate to have some top professionals available at CrossFit Leyland, who are on hand to assist you with your recovery;
Chris Lowden – Nutrition support
Emma Hunter – Sports therapy / massage
Sally Thompson – Sports therapy / massage
Alan Watmough – Sports therapy / massage
Laura Casey – Physiotherapy
Christine Potter – Physiotherapy
Weekly appointments available, see the gym noticeboard for contact details.
“Recovery is not an excuse, it is a necessity!”
(Dave Scott, Triathlete Magazine)