The Art of Recovery

As fitness professionals, we spend the vast majority of our time encouraging our clientele to train as intensely as they are safely capable of, pushing their limitations and challenging their bodies to enable them to achieve their stated goals. However, one of the most important components of a training program is the recovery component.

If recovery is inadequate, the body and mind may not experience adaptation which is required to achieve a fundamental training effect. Consequently, recovery is scheduled into the macro exercise/training program to ensure that the client is consistently recovering throughout the program.

Without delving too deeply into the exercise physiology elements, suffice it to say that it is during recovery from muscular strength training sessions that our muscles actually experience hypertrophy (i.e. increase in muscle size), strength increases and the recovery duration, when adequate, permits the body to rest all of the structural aspects of the body as well as all of the physiological systems of the body. This also addresses the injury-prevention benefits of recovery. When recovering from a well-designed exercise/training program, the body has time to repair and grow which may help prevent overuse injuries.

One other major element that is necessary to accomplish during recovery is to rest the mind. All movement forms, sports and activities, require the mind and body connection. When a client does not permit their mind to “turn off” for a recommended period of time, then their ability to utilize the mind as the “driver” when it is needed to challenge the body, may be diminished. This week, consider these three guidelines for recovery and experience all of the benefits that await you! As always, prior to beginning an exercise program, please consult your physician.

Guideline #1 All of our personal training clients receive a micro, meso and macro exercise program. Within the content, each week is a designated recovery day or possibly more depending upon the goals/objectives of that specific client. We ask them to suggest a day of the week that will consistently serve as a recovery day, and then that day is clearly indicated on the program as such. This is a day of enjoyment, no regimen, think of it as a play day! For some of our newer clients, they may baulk at this scheduled recovery day because they are highly motivated individuals and want to work out every day. So, we spend considerable time counseling them, from the beginning that they must recover on that day or days since we cannot help them to achieve their goals without adequate recovery.

Guideline #2 We stress that recovery does not mean sitting on the sofa all day, but it certainly might include a little bit of sofa time to watch a football game or favorite movie! Being active throughout recovery days, with easy, enjoyable movement, perhaps myofascial release and stretching, a massage, meditation or all of the above, would be an excellent format for the day.

Guideline #3 Recovery also provides time for “feeding” the body and hydrating in preparation for future training sessions and activities. All successful exercise/training programs must include a well-designed nutritional program and this program should address the recovery days differently than training days to provide the client with replacement of essential nutrients during the recovery process.

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