It happens a lot. Perfect adherence, clean eating and plenty of effort; and yet nothing seems to change. What gives when intake and output are at their optimums yet the result sub-optimum? If you ask me (and because I’m writing this, I assume you are) it’s because recovery is lacking. Recovery is progress and it needs to receive the same attention as what’s done to start it.
How to tell if you’re not recovered?
The easiest way is through heart rate. First, knowing your Max Heart Rate (MHR): 220 – age = MHR. 60% of MHR is your cruise control zone. You can sustain 60% for a long duration without much worry. So, get on a bike or treadmill and find a pace that has you at 60% MHR. Now crank it up and get your heart rate up to 75% or 80%. Spend a minute or two enjoying yourself. After a couple of minutes bring it back down to the pace that had you at 60%. Spend another 2 minutes there. At the 2-minute mark get a heart rate readout. Are you back into the 60% zone (plus or minus a few percent)? If you are, congrats! You’re doing fine and are set to do more. If you’re still in the 70’s or 80’s…stop. Do the same test a day or two later. If you’re still not falling back to a 60% level in 2 minutes or less it’s a sign your body is struggling. At this point it is crucial to consult your doctor or schedule a FREE consultation to learn more about your limitations and what you can do about them to improve your recovery.
What causes bad recovery or over-training?
It’s a long list. If your diet is insanely strict it could be you’re not taking in enough goodness to give your body the tools it needs. The best option here is to speak to a registered dietitian. If work or life has you stressed out and ready to punch a baby seal…it’s probably just that. Go with a “life coach” or read one of the classics. (All the self-help books use classics for inspiration, why not just go to the source?) If you’re working out 6 days a week and going all out, it may be that. Find a way to split up your routine in such a way that your body has time to bounce back before you hit it again.
Seems a little vague. Why no hard numbers or spelled out routines?
Because recovery is relative. An athlete who has spent years working the tear-down and rebuild process will recover quicker. They’re better at it. The professional couch potato will be walking funny for a few days until their legs come to terms with exercise. Your posture, lifting technique, cardio habits and many other variables affect how well or slow you may recover.
In simple and overgeneralized terms, the following are safe ideals.
-It’ll take 48 to 72 hours for a muscle to fully recover from the micro tears of a good workout. Between 15 and 20 total sets in a week is enough to spark change.
-More than 20 sets start to challenge the recovery curve. Less than 15 is kind of a tease. Your body deserves more.
-Decrease your calorie intake against your daily need and your body will have a hard time finding the tools it needs to rebuild.
The process of recovery is time. The best bet you have against poor recovery is a smart diet and a routine type that factors-in the type of muscle use. (You can workout six days a week, but only if you divide it right.) And don’t ever under appreciate earning the right to spend some time at 60% MHR. Change in the body is created when the body is pushed beyond its sedentary state.
Factors that affect muscle recovery: