Abandon all weakness, ye who enter here.

You Suck at Recovery

Recovery is a very important aspect of strength training. Most people neglect this in their weekly schedules. A lot of fitness programs promote the intensity of their program and how efficiently those programs can break down the muscle to build more.  This runs the risk of directing the client to overtrain their muscles and tax their body a detrimental amount.  

In this aspect, most people really suck with recovery; overtraining in reality should be called under-recovery, because you are welcome to cause as much positive trauma to your muscles as you want. Yet, when you under-recover, that positive trauma turns very negative; stress hormones in the body increase, which interferes with healing; in your quest to look like a "badass" in your training, you instead rob yourself of results and training longevity at the same time. These people don't rest until recovery has to become rehabilitation from a strength training injury, and they're  forced to rest for injury recovery. 

In other words, if you don't make time for recovery, you'll be forced to make time for rehabilitation.

This does not mean to underwhelm your body in fear of overtraining.  In fact, often the most physically taxing physical training provides some of the best results.  The Dragon himself, Bruce Lee, had a training regimen that could make advanced trainers today cringe.  But if you seek to gain the strength of the Dragon, you must learn recovery like the Phoenix.

Many know of the Phoenix; the legendary mystical bird with a near immortal lifespan lights its nest on fire toward the end of its life, only to be reborn from its ashes.  It builds its nest up so that the sun's rays can light the twigs, and the Phoenix awaits its new beginning.

What does this mean for a strength trainer? Enduring the 'fires' of difficult training can definitely transform the bodies of male and female trainers with the strength of a Dragon. But to be truly reborn requires a time of waiting, like the Phoenix.

Embrace rehabilitation like the master of recovery, the Phoenix. After a serious bout of training, re-hydrate yourself. You lose a lot of fluids during your training, and water is required as a catalyst for a large amount of your body's processes, including muscle recovery.   

The energy needed for that rehabilitation will come from food, so eat well to fuel up after a good workout. The higher octane your 'fuel', the better and quicker your recovery becomes (i.e. recover with lively, healthy foods instead of "junk foods".)

Your body's optimal time of physical rehabilitation is during sleep. Getting a good night's sleep is one of the best things you can do for your recovering body, so get as many zzz's as you can.

Unlike the Phoenix, waiting for the nest to light up, your recovery does not have to be, in fact should not, be passive.  The more active your role in your recovery, the quicker it comes to you. Doing an internal martial art, yoga, or a low-impact sport is a good way to improve the blood flow throughout your body, and blood is the main vehicle by which your recovery will happen.

You can even maximize your rehabilitation using your workout. After doing a difficult set, allowing your heart to reach it's resting HR before continuing trains your heart to reach a near maximum without over stressing, and trains your body to reach its resting state quicker.  This type of training can be beneficial in the prevention of heart attacks.

Isometric exercises are fantastic in terms of rehabilitation because they force a huge rush of blood to hit your muscles and tendons at once, opening up the chance for incredible rehabilitation. In fact, tendon injuries are generally the hardest to handle with recovery because of the lack of blood flow; isometric exercises improve blood flow, and thus tendon recovery. Like most active recovery stuff, don't go "balls to the wall" on this one. Take it easy with your isometrics, and the rehabilitation will handle itself.