Tag Archives: recovery

Rest for Strength

“If you really want to be strong the rest period is 5-15min between sets, if you have the time, that’s crazy long.” – Pavel Tsatsouline

Many will often say they never have that kind of time, however if you are to program effectively then you can potentially get that amount of rest, it’s a hard mindset for people to adopt as people these days chase fatigue.

I’d suggest you take some time to dig in to energy systems and how they work. In the latest revision of ‘Periodisation’ by Tudor Boompa you’ll find a great chapter on this topic and why a long rest is optimal for performance/strength.

If you are interested in strength then here are some examples of how you can achieve the above rest.

A1 – Press x2-3
– Rest 3min
A2 – Pull Up x2-3
– Rest 3min
While a small amount of effort is required in the pull up you are getting in a good amount of rest before your next pressing set.

A1 – Press x2-3
– Rest 3min
A2 – Pull Up x2-3
– Rest 3min
A3 – Farmers Walk x20m
– Rest 3min
I’m sure you can see where this is going in regards to potentially adding in extra movements or even just adding more rest if the weights require it.

A1 – Press x2-3
– Rest 5min
A2 – Pull Up x2-3
– Rest 5min
A3 – Farmers Walk x20m
– Rest 5min
What would the loads be? 85% of max and above, however if that was the case it would be preferable that you just take a decent rest, however if you feel you need to be doing something then a super set or tri-set option is a good one.

Remember that strength is a skill.

Enjoy,
Ross

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Faster Recovery, Easy as 1-2-3

Under recovering is actually quite common in a persons quest for better results. They will do more and more and more, at the start everything fees fine and some can sustain this for a rather hefty period of time until eventually the wheels fall off the wagon. Once this happens they’re fighting an uphill battle they just can’t win.
 
As strange as it sounds, when people become fatigued they experience a drop in performance, because of this what do you think they do? Yep, they try to train more, essentially trying to out train their fatigue… what a recipe for disaster. When performance starts to drop that could mean one of two things typically:
 
– You’re having a bad day, lighten the load and don’t worry about it.
– You’re out training your maximal recoverable volume (MRV*)
 
*MRV is the amount of volume your body can handle before it starts to fail under the strain. While the occasional period of working past your MRV (planned over reaching) is great to help encourage the super-compensation effect, too much will make you go backwards.
 
There are various indicators of amassing fatigue, one test that is quite an effective indicator is the Dynamometer grip test, but not everyone has this piece of kit. A nice substitute is to record your lifts and watch the bar speed back and assess your RPE (rate of perceived exertion), simply pick one of the big exercises and a weight that should be nice and fast 80% for 1 and see how it looks, slower bar = fatigue, fast bar = good to go. It’s not perfect but it will help you learn to listen to your body.
 
To aid your recovery capabilities here are three things you should be doing to maximise your time off:
 
1 – Eat more nutritious whole foods, deficiencies can impart recovery
2 – Get regular sports massages, rid yourself of scar tissue
3 – Get to sleep by 10pm and wake up by 6am ideally (this is optimal for muscle growth, hormonal optimisation and mental recovery)
 
Bonus Tip – Take a deload every 3 weeks, a reduction in volume, intensity or both can be of great help to your recovery capabilities.
 
Remember there is only so much your body can take, focus not he quality of what you’re doing first, then you can adjust the quantity as needed.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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Do You Even De-Load?

Afternoon Guys,

Volume…

You need to increase it to keep progressing, but too much and you will find yourself in a world of trouble because your body can only recover from so much before you need to take your foot off the fas pedal. This is what;s known as a planned de-load, these usually work well at the end of a training block (4-12 weeks), or even after every 3 weeks of ‘hard’ training and will allow you to take some stress off the nervous system and reduce your overall else of fatigue. 

The 3 week increasing intensity followed by the 1 week de-load is quite popular in many programs written by some top strength coaches/athletes, the likes of which include Charles Poliquin, Jim Wendler, Christian Thibaudeau, Louis Simmons (well, he is more along the lines of not training the same movement at 90% intensity for more than 3 week), the list could go on but these are only a couple of examples.

I have known people to try and train at their top end intensity for extended periods of time and end up digging a hole that they struggle to recover from. Thus stalling their potential progress and in some cases regressing it.

DON’T BE ONE OF THEM!

If you have been tracking your total volume a de-load is a simple case of knocking you last total load down by a percentage that allows you still stay neurologically ready but reduces the fatigue. For example; you could reduce the total volume by up to 50%, meaning if your average amount of sets per movement was 20 per week you might only do 10 with a varying intensity (say working up to a double at 90% for example, you’d still keep the feeling of lifting the heavy weight but you’d greatly reduce the overall stress and aid recovery/adaptation).

It is true that some people can handle lighter de-loads than others, and place them farther apart because they have a higher MRV (maximum recoverable volume), but you’re not ‘some people’ you will need to take a specific approach and establish your INDIVIDUAL needs to the number, no guess work. If you can handle more volume and only need a reduction every 8 weeks then great, go for it, just be sure that’s the case. Don’t dig a hole in you can’t get out of without a complete rest week.

Now go and sit down with a pen/paper and work out what YOU need to do.

Enjoy,
Ross

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Easily Forgotten

Morning Guys,

How hard do you train?

Do you train up to the point of your own individual maximal recoverable volume (or as close as educated approximations will allow)?

Okay, that is quite an open question however if you track you progress you should know that answer, by tracking you will be able to establish what your previous/current total volumes and how far past it you can push each in future training cycles to make progress (say +500kg extra volume each month for example).

The principle of Overload is easily forgotten, then again so is what progression actually means as well.

Progress is progress no matter how small. Let’s a person did 140kgx10 on the squat with a belt and knee wraps 6 months ago for a PR set, they would expect this number to increase to perhaps 145/150 for their mind to register that they’ve made progress, however that might not be the case. Progress doesn’t always mean adding weight, sets or reps, it can also be how you do handle your old PR’s, if you can do 140kgx10 without a belt and knee wraps although the weight may have remained the same you’ve certainly made progress because you no longer need your support to complete what you did before.

Make sense?

Personally I don’t use a belt or any supportive extras, not for a sense of ego or pride, more so for the fact I have never used them because I didn’t own any. I track all of my workouts, I know what I did this time last year and for what reps, this helps me see the progress I have made (I managed 1x5x160kg on squat with good form but it was hard, that now stands at 5×5 a solid 3x5x160, and the last 2×5 are tough).

Another thing I like to keep in mind is my 70% for my lifts and how many reps I can do COMFORTABLY with it. By comfortably I mean without feeling like I’m going to die. This is a monthly check to see how I’m doing, each month I like to see what was a struggle for 10-15 reps feel easy for 15 so i can give myself a little ego boost (yep, pure ego boost) and train safe in the knowledge that even though the progress feels painstakingly slow and sometimes nonexistent, it’s still there.

How do you measure/track your overload and your progress?

If the answer is “I don’t know, I just….” then the chances are you’re missing out on some potential gains. remember this doesn’t just have to apply to lifting weights, it can also apply to CV, Body Composition and Nutrition as well.

Now go and workout what you’re actually doing and not what you think you’re doing.

Enjoy,
Ross

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Training Pyramid Part 3 – Recovery

Morning Guys,
We’ve covered Specificity and Overload, not it’s time for the third instalment of how to create a solid training program.
The topic now in question is one often missed by a lot of people and that is Recovery.
Understanding what you can/can’t recover from will put in in the best place to force your body to adapt and improve accordingly, while slightly overreaching (pushing hard for a couple of weeks longer than planned) is good and can be a very useful tool, doing it for tool long will lead to regression or worse, injury.
How can you establish what the maximum amount of volume/intensity that you can recover from while still making progress is? Educated guesswork.
Seriously, educated guesswork might sound like a cop out answer but I don’t know you, I also very much doubt you know you either.
When it comes to finding what you can handle tracking your workouts, nutrition, sleep patterns and even daily life (stressors) can play a big part, for example – you’ve not been eating what you need for a coupe of days and have a poor session where you miss lifts, does this mean you need to take a deload week? Probably not, it simply means you’re feeling fatigue because you weren’t eating enough calories for a few days.
Typically you will find that the reason for a session not feeling great is not that you’ve hit your limit but poor nutrition, broken sleep or a stressful time in life. A good rule of thumb is this: If you can train for longer than 8 weeks while increasing volume/intensity then you’re not doing enough and if you cant make it to 4 weeks then you’re doing too much.
There is a term that has become popular in recent times (it has been around for years but it’s only popular now due to the influence of social media), it’s called Auto-Regulation.
Auto-Regulation can best be described as listening to your body, it’s instinctual. Some days you may be able to go heavier than planned, if you feel good then go for it. Other days you won’t feel great so a reduction in that days volume or intensity might be in order.
Can you program Auto-Regulation?
Kinda, but not quite… Let me explain.
There has been the thought process of Medium Day, Light Day, Heavy Day surrounding not only full body workouts but also splits for many years. This concept is based around one day causing a stimulus, one day allowing recovery for that week and the last day is for setting new rep PR’s or realising some adaptation, or so the theory goes.
When you program your training you will follow the rule of Stimulus (building phase)- Recovery (reduction in volume) – Adaptation (making progress), you don’t need to plan this in every week but personally I think having a light day programmed in will not only help your body but also your mind too.
Your limits are your limits, you need to find them out for yourself but to get the most accurate summation of what they are you will need to track everything you’re doing.
Enjoy,
Ross
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You’re Not Ready

Morning Guys,

There is a key element to training that is often forgotten.

Do you know what it is or have you also forgotten about it?

….

Any Ideas yet?

Recovery…It’s recovery that is often forgotten about.

The definition of recovery is the return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength. When this relates to training that means that you are able to lift the same weight you did previously with the same efficiency, however if you have recovered adequately from the stimulus that you subjected the body to previously you will experience an adaptation/super compensation where you now are stronger than before, meaning you can handle more weight, more reps, more sets, less rest time or a combination of them. If you can’t then it’s arguable that you haven’t recovered.

There are some elements that will help improve your recovery:

– Sleep – You will be ideally getting 6-8 hours of sleep per night.

– Nutrition – Hit at minimum your basal caloric requirement but ideally a surplus of 300-500 calories.

– External Stress – Life… Just life. Work, Money, Relationships, all of these can affect your recovery if they cause your stress levels to be elevated on a constant basis.

In an ideal world these would be managed, it’s worth remembering that out of the three sleep is by far the most important. Stress isn’t far behind as it can affect your sleep, so you could say they are on par, ish.

Why is sleep top trumps in my book?

If sleep is disturbed you will find that homeostasis will be thrown out and your body will rapidly start to decline, even if your nutrition is on point and stress is well managed you will find that a lack of sleep will still take its toll.

Second on the list of importance would be stress. If you’re overly stressed you will find that can not only affect your ability to recover but it can also affect your sleep and your nutritional choices too (you will go looking for sugary foods to increase serotonin levels and lower cortisol).

If your nutrition is a bit lacking it’s not the end of the world, after all, nutrition is easy to sort with some simple tweaks and tracking. Obviously the quality of your food will also have an impact on your recovery, optimally eating the majority of our calories from single ingredient whole foods will yield the best macro/micronutrient profile, if you’re a fan of simple sugars then post workout would be the most optimal time to have these. Try to avoid foods that cause you gut irritation or gastric distress (this will vary from person to person, tracking what you eat and how you feel will help you find out what agrees and what doesn’t).

All in all it’s the management of your sleep and your stress levels that will have the biggest impact on you ability to recover.

To review the points above:

– Sleep – 6-8hour per night
– Stress – 10min daily meditation & 30min walks help lower cortisol.
– Nutrition – Eat mostly single ingredient whole foods at 3-500cal surplus.

Get these right and you will find your recovery is second to none.

Enjoy,
Ross

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