Training and fitness are things that should be mainstays in people’s daily and weekly routines. It goes without saying that having a healthy lifestyle can set you up to be more durable against different stresses life throws at you and also fight off different illnesses if presented with one. However, while everyone wants to train harder, be faster, and be more fit, training is only one small piece of the puzzle. How you recover and how you put your body in the position to be able to handle your training is an underrated topic that doesn’t get discussed enough. In this article we are going to get into why we feel that recovery, not training, is the most important factor when trying to hit your goals and personal records.
The Recovery Umbrella
The health and fitness industry can be overwhelming when it comes to all the strategies and tools that people can use to help them feel better after a hard day or week of training. Whether it’s saunas, ice baths, massage guns, and everything else in between, there isn’t a shortage of what to utilize to recover. However, while these are all potentially great to help aid in the recovery process, the results can be highly variable with regards to a person’s perception of what is making them feel better. While we always want and encourage people to utilize methods that make them feel good, we still want some solid data and evidence that says one method of recovery is better than another.
Sleep Still Reigns King For Recovery
We like to stick with the basics when it comes to what we really know will directly impact recovery and get your body back on track. The most basic recovery tool that we can directly control is sleep. Sleep continues to be something that we feel people don’t utilize enough. Busy professionals, hard working parents, student athletes, and many others are pulled in so many directions each and every day that it becomes challenging to try and prioritize the sleep you should be getting. There continues to be growing evidence that shows getting less than 8 hours of sleep can increase your risk of sustaining an injury. Think about that for a second. If you just focused on getting enough sleep, that cuts down your injury risk. If you’re already someone with a consistent training routine, then that only enhances your durability that much more! It’s a win win in our eyes. While I am not a sleep expert, I know how much a lack of sleep can impact you both physically and mentally (I’m a Dad of 3 kids under the age of 7, so limited sleep is in my blood currently. Shout out to all the parents doing their best to get enough sleep!)
The Technology Conundrum
While technology has certainly been a booming industry in terms of being able to track metrics and data to better help make decisions about your health and wellness, it also has sapped us in our ability to detach ourselves from it. Think of how many people can’t exercise without having to log into an app and get “credit” for the training session instead of just appreciating the fact that they exercised and put in the work? While yes we do utilize technology in ways to help our athletes make better decisions based on how they feel and how they are trending overall, we still understand there’s a human element that we need to consider. If we do utilize technology, we do prioritize apps or wearables that track recovery such as WHOOP as they do a great job looking at the big picture on how sleep and overall strain on the body can impact performance. As much as technology can help you set better habits, keep you consistent, and be a great support system, still understand that there was a time that we didn’t have to solely rely on technology to tell us how hard we worked. This ties in nicely to the whole sleep conversation as well as many people can’t put down their phones or have a hard time getting to sleep on time because they are constantly consumed by technology before bed. Find a routine, stick to the routine, and make sure it doesn’t revolve around technology!
Prioritizing recovery strategies continues to be a very important aspect of the education process when talking about training and performance goals. Sometimes you don’t need to look for that next best supplement, or the next best modality. Many times you just need to go back to the basics such as sleeping better, possibly going for a walk if you’re feeling sore, and just making sure you emphasize self-care strategies both physically and emotionally. Your training will be that much more worth it when recovery becomes that much more of the conversation. So if you are reading this, and you’re wondering why you’ve hit a plateau, or if you feel like you’ve just been stuck in the same holding pattern with your training, then maybe you need to reconsider what you should be looking at to help you improve.
Want to know more? Manage your athlete’s recovery when returning to the weight room.