Maybe it is an age thing. I am by no means old at age 36, but I’m not exactly in my prime. I like when I am sore, even though that does not translate to a good effective workout. However, what I find myself balancing a lot these days is my recovery. At this point in my life, I know I will make time for working out. But for me, recovering from the workout—so I can effectively work out again—is becoming an issue.
It is different for everyone. I used to be able to do a ton of work in a day and come back and do more the next. Now I have to watch it. Here are just a few ways I need to make sure I’m recovering properly.
- I can lift only three days per week max, if I want to have additional alternative workouts in my schedule such as basketball, martial arts, and boxing.
- I can work out hard for four or five weeks; then I need a deload week which is a week where I lift 50 percent of max intensity.
- Eating. My next day or two is dictated by how I ate the day before.
- Sleep. What is happening here? Sleep is so overly important and it is one thing I can not seem to get enough of as an adult. If I do not get enough sleep; forget it. That snowballs quicker than the winter storm of 1996.
- Water water everywhere. It is so obvious to me that fluid intake every day is of the utmost importance for activity, recovery, and sleep.
- Massage and chiropractic. Alternative medicine keeps me afloat and keeps injuries at bay. I have come to rely on this more and more.
Keeping all of these things in order is hard. I have to plan out the week, really make sure I am getting rest, and assess everyday. It is so hard because we all fight what the mind wants verses what the body needs. I want to work out every day and feel good and look good. Mentally I need that outlet. Physically sometimes I just need the rest. Ultimately, I look at my goals:
- Am I getting stronger?
- Do I feel good about myself?
- Am I able to move and function without pain?
If these things are in place, then there is no reason to push harder if I am getting what I need from it. My body is telling me it is happy.
At the end of the day, you have to take a look at your needs, your body, and how it reacts to things versus what other people are doing. It is easy to look at the person next to you compare. Say they workout seven days a week, then you think you should do the same thing for no reason other than to keep up with that person? No.
The bottom line is, when you work out, you break down the muscle. It is damaged. When you recover, it gets stronger and thus, you get stronger. If you do not give your body the time it needs to recover, it will always be in a state of breakdown and you are doing the exact opposite of what it is you are training for. Therefore, if you are not fully recovered, you cannot fully perform. If you cannot fully perform you will never get better.
Since this is where I am at this point of my career, recovery is something I preach a lot about. It is something I feel people disregard. So, next time you think about your fitness plan, remember, recovery days are workout days. It does not mean you do not do anything. It means you spend 30 or 40 minutes doing active recovery and mobility exercises so that, tomorrow, you can dominate!