In the past year, I have focused a lot of energy on learning about rest and recovery, due to my own injury. I worked with AcitiveLife and Dr. Jacob Harden to learn about what causes injuries and how to best guide our athletes.
The Stress /Adaptation Cycle
This graph is a visual representation of the stress/adaptionation cycle. The first graph represented the optimal balance of training “stress” and adequate recovery. This is the sweet spot between adequate load and increasing out capacity or fitness. The middle graph represents overtraining where there isn’t sufficient rest between training sessions to see adaptations. Over time the lack of recovery or if another stressor is added to your life, it can lead to injury. The third graph represents undertraining. An example of undertraining, could be when someone takes time off from the gym or goes on a prolonged vacation. It is important after a period of undertraining, to build up your training threshold again because your tissues can’t handle the same amount of stress.
Image courtesy of Whiteboard_Daily
Guidelines for Recovery
- For every 60 min of work, you need 15 min of recovery.
- The larger the stress, the longer the recovery that is required.
- Get 7-8 hours of sleep.
- Eat whole foods in sufficient amounts.
- Don’t ignore internal signals of burnout.
- Lack of motivations or interest
- Decreased energy or mood
- Trouble sleeping
- Frequent injury or always feeling “beat up”
- Passive treatments (massage, chiro, acupuncture ect) should complement other recovery strategies, not be your recovery strategy.
- Running 5k or going super low carb on non-workout days, do not count as recovery-this is still stressing your body!!
- Be smarter about how you train.
- If you are super stressed out, your volume and intensity likely need to be decreased during that period.
- If you have been travelling or haven’t slept or have been sick, it is not the time to attempt to hit a massive deadlift PR. Your tissues do not have the same amount of reserves when other areas of your life aren’t optimal.
Guidelines to Avoid Overtraining
- Build up volume slowly.
- Allow time for your tissues to adapt to new demands.
- Take the same amount of time to build up your intensity, weights and volume, as you took off.
- If you took 6 weeks off to travel, take 6 weeks to return to the pre-travel level of fitness.
- Monitor your cumulative volume over time
- If you added in something new, be aware of how your body feels over the next month- 6 weeks.
- If you add in something new, you need to remove something else-You can’t do it all!
- If you compete in CrossFit, have an off season.
- If you feel like you hit a plateau or if everything feels heavy and hard, try taking a week off. I often see members go away on a short vacation and PR when they come home. This tells me they likely weren’t getting enough recovery between sessions and their body needed a break.
If you can relate to any of the signs and symptoms of overtraining, make sure you talk with us about how to be smarter about how you train. You could be missing out on a LOT of potential GAINS!