Recovery…. From Training, Life and Tackle Football

Maybe not one of the best ideas I’ve had in a long time but yesterday I went back to my alma mater to play in my alumni vs. actives flag football game.  It was all in good fun and regardless of what shape each of us was in I don’t think we were prepared for the hurt that was to follow.  Blood, sweat, a wet field, a black eye, and a potentially broken collarbone later we are all layed up today.

All in all I’m happy with my 2 TDs for the day and multiple tackles.  On the down side I am finding it difficult to move my legs and do things such as standing up.  Now I know how Jay Cutler feels having no offensive line.  Needless to say I will be on the couch all day where I belong watching the Pats take on the Browns.  Although I will not be playing in the Super Bowl anytime soon I will own this year’s Tecmo Bowl.

Since I plan on doing as little moving today as possible I thought I would share a few of my thoughts on recovery.  It is something that I did little of in my early days of lifting which is something that I totally regret.  I got results from completely hammering my body 5-6 days a week but looking back and knowing what I know now my results would have been far superior had I recovered properly.  I mean it is what we do outside the gym and on our off days that helps your body grow.

Whether you are an athlete, a runner or just a weekend warrior recovery is important to help prevent injury, strengthen your immune system, and get you the results you are looking for.  Sleep, diet and proper training all play a role in how your body recovers.

One of the first questions I ask all of my clients when we meet is how much sleep they get and how well they sleep.  It is one of the easiest places to improve not only your training but also your quality of life.

Here are a few easy ways to increase the quality of your sleep:

  1. Take a shower before bed to warm the muscles and help you relax.
  2. Do some static stretching or soft tissue work to help the body relax.
  3. Don’t watch T.V. in bed, rather do some easy reading or listen to soft music.
  4. Make sure your room is dark.  Cover the windows and turn off the electronics.
  5. Don’t drink caffeine or Jager bombs before bed.
  6. Try to get in a routine.  Go to sleep and wake up at the same time each night.
  7. Use clean sheets (my girlfriend appreciates this one).

Your nutrition also plays a huge role in your body’s recovery as well.   After all, you are what you eat.  Do you think that if you continue to suck down diet sodas and house desserts and fastfood that your body is going to look and perform how you want it to?

I’m sure you’ve all heard the term post-workout nutrition but what exactly are you refeuling with after your workout?  What do you have for breakfast when your body is starving for quality calories?  What is the last thing you put in your body before you go to sleep?  Everything you put in your body is going to aid in recovery.

Here is a sample day of eating:

  • Breakfast: 2 egg omlette with peppers, onions, and garlic.  A banana and a glass of orange juice.
  • Meal 2: Oatmeal with blueberries and walnuts and a glass of skim milk.
  • Pre-workout: smoothie -1 scoop of whey protein, 1/2 cup milk, frozen berries, banana, 1 cup spinach, chia seeds, and 1/4 cup oats.
  • Post-workout: 1 scoop of whey protein (or chocolate milk…I prefer organic) and a banana.  Gatorade also works well for recovery.
  • Meal 5: A sandwich…lean meat, pb&j or whatever floats your boat.  Throw some veggies in there too, baby carrots for an added crunch can be satisfying.
  • Dinner: Meat and veggies.
  • Pre-bedtime snack: Yogurt as it contains probiotics which aid in digestion and is also a good source of protein to aid in recovery.

You can substitute most of these food items for something of equal or greater value but try not to stray too far from the recipe.  The nutrients and frequency of meals all aid in proper recovery whether you are trying to get stronger, lose weight or perform better.  I eat the same foods whether I am bulking up or trying to burn fat, it makes food choices easier and I know I am getting proper nutrition to reach my goals.

For those of you who train and train hard every week it is extremely important to take a week to deload or decrease your training frequency at least every 4-6 weeks or so.  It may not be as important  for beginners as it is for intermediate or advanced lifters but you should still be finding time to decrease training intensity by either sets, reps or number of days.

I also prefer my clients as well as myself to take a day off in between training sessions to allow for full recovery.  Now I don’t mean doing nothing at all but rather not lifting heavy things repeatedly 5 days in a row.

A good recovery “off-day” could still be used for focusing more on soft tissue work, mobility drills, light body weight training and cardio such as a metabolic circuit or interval training.  Instead of playing contact football on your day off like I did, play something like basketball or another sport with your friends that will not have you layed up the next day.

Tomorrow I plan to do some extra foam rolling as recovery from using my body as a human battering ram in yesterday’s game.  As for the rest of today?  I plan on doing as little moving as possible.

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About s2bfitness

I am a Certified Health and Fitness Specialist and Strength and Conditioning Coach working out of Fitcorp in the Financial District. I have a no-nonsense approach to training and desire to provide the most up-to-date, results based, and fun training environment for my clients. I specialize in fat loss, strength training, program design, corrective exercise, and nutrition. View all posts by s2bfitness

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