When most of us started working out the focus was to work out as hard as you can and come back the next day for more “pain” and collective suffering.
The idea “that sucked – what time tomorrow?” was drilled into our heads as a tribal calling. The only way for you to make any adaptation (for most people fat loss) is to come to the gym 6 days a week giving 100%, right?
This concept of 100% effort all the time, no excuses, no missing the gym etc. comes from a good place, and causes more harm than good.
This idea comes about from a misunderstanding of what exercise is. Exercise is a physical stressor on the body. What? Let’s think about it differently. Exercise is physical exertion – so let’s say you’re a farmer out in the fields all day, bailing hay, cleaning the stalls… farmer stuff. This activity isn’t a de-stressor; it’s stress-inducing. The actions performed by the farmer are a physical load on his body. The same goes for your workout. The workouts that we do require recovery, much like a farmer needs a recovery from his day of manual labor.
If the WOD is Fran, for example a sprint at 90-100% effort, it is going to require a lot of recovery. Think about how you feel after that style of workout vs. an EMOM 30 (at 50-60% effort) of bear-crawls, hollow-holds and farmers carry. Fran leaves us feeling like we were run over by a bus while the EMOM leaves us feeling thoroughly tired and better than when we came in; there is a place for both.
A workout requires a recovery effort equal to the intensity of that workout. Sticking with the above example, in a week that includes doing a Fran workout, the rest of that day and the next few days should include 8 hours of sleep, a 30 minute recovery walk or two, individual self-care work (foam roll, lacrosse ball, ROM WOD, etc), hot-cold bath/shower, and possibly professional body care work (massage, chiropractor). Wow that’s a lot of recovery! It is, but remember Fran was a lot of training! This idea of training vs recovering is not just for MetCons but strength training as well. There is a reason why we don’t train 1RM everyday… it leads to overtraining injuries, underperformance, and usually frustration.9
Now for the nitty gritty nerdy stuff. The other side of this is that muscle doesn’t build from the exercises we do in the gym. Huh?? That’s right – when we perform lets say a bicep curl, the bicep curl doesn’t give us big biceps. It produces little tears in the muscle which, through protein absorption and REST, allows the body to repair the tears which builds the muscle. If we train so much that the muscle doesn’t get a chance to repair, 1) we are most likely overtraining which leads to possible injury but more importantly 2) we don’t get the big muscles!!
Bottom line: here’s the good cheddar.
In order to see the results you want and feel amazing, you gotta recover with the same intensity that you workout at.
You hit the WOD like a maniac and crush it – GREAT!! The next few days should be filled with the same level (crushed) recovery work and less intense exercise to balance out your body. Let’s train smart and recover even smarter!