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Recovery Factors in Exercise, by Matthew Romans

It is not uncommon for us as exercise instructors to encounter new clients that are accustomed to participating in various forms of physical activity in addition to weight training. More often than not, we get a surprised response when we tell them that we recommend against performing other types of rigorous activity (for exercise purposes) in conjunction with your Total Results workouts. The primary reason we advise against other types of activity is that we want our clients to maximize their recovery between workouts in order to optimize their results.

First of all, we must understand the primary objective of a Total Results workout. The primary objective is to inroad (fatigue) the musculature deeply enough to stimulate a growth response. In other words, we are trying to give the body a good reason to create a positive change. Total Results will satisfy all of your physiological requirements and help to improve your strength, cardiovascular conditioning, flexibility, as well as play a role in fat loss. No other form of activity can come close to stimulating positive change the way that this workout can, so from a physiological perspective, other forms of activity are largely a waste of time.

Next, let's take a closer look at what happens during a Total Results workout and during the 3 to 7 day recovery period between workouts. As I mentioned before, during the workout we are inroading, or weakening, the strength levels of the muscular structures to trigger a growth response. On the cellular level, this inroad creates micro-tears in the skeletal muscle, and at the same time it depletes the glycogen stores in the muscles as well as in the liver (glycogen is the stored form of carbohydrate and is the primary source of fuel during intense exercise). During the recovery period between workouts, the body goes about the process of repairing those micro-tears, as well as replenishing the glycogen stores. Remember, we are not trying to recover and get back to the status quo; we want to improve upon our previous levels of strength and conditioning. If one tries to exercise before they are properly recovered, they increase their risk of stagnation of progress, overtraining, and compromising their immune system, which leaves them more susceptible to illness.

Additional activity (jogging, biking, elliptical machines, etc.) only serves to consume precious recovery resources at best (thus interfering with the quality of the proper exercise stimulus), and at worst, could result in injury. Remember, all these other forms of activity are high-force in nature, and excessive force is the primary cause of injury. When discussing this topic with clients, I often talk about the Exercise vs. Recreation argument. There are many different forms of recreation; some are more physical in nature than others. If one pursues a physical form of activity (such as golf, tennis, or squash) simply because they enjoy it, that's fine with me. As long as they don't think they are going to derive some additional physical benefit from it, and assume the risk of pursuing such an activity, then they are doing it for the right reason. Just remember that NOTHING can come close to stimulating positive change the way that a Total Results workout can.

There are also some factors that we as instructors can manipulate to help maximize your recovery and results. The first is the frequency of your workouts. Normally we start novice clients training twice per week, with at least three to four days between workouts. As a client progresses to the intermediate or advanced stage, we may find that it's best to reduce their training frequency. At that point we have them train once every seven days. This allows them to get proper recovery and continue to make improvements.

Another factor we can control is the volume of exercise they perform. This refers to the number of exercises one performs in a workout. Normally, clients perform five to seven exercises in an exercise routine. There needs to be an inverse relationship between intensity and volume, therefore the more intensely one trains, the fewer exercises they should perform. If volume is too high, intensity (as well as the quality of the stimulus) and recovery suffer.

The last factor we can manipulate is intensity. As you know, we want to reach the point of momentary muscular failure on every exercise, and then perform a thorough inroad for five to ten seconds after that. Rarely have we had to moderate the level of intensity with which a client trains for recovery purposes, but it has happened. If a person has an exceptionally fragile recovery system, we would stop the client just short of momentary muscular failure, or take them to failure but not perform a thorough inroad. Again, this is very rare.

Finally, how do you maximize your recovery between workouts and optimize your results? First, you should drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated is key, and since your body is made up of over 70% water, this is very important. Second, you should eat a post-workout meal (1-2 hours after) with plenty of protein and good carbohydrates. This will help get the ball rolling in terms of tissue repair as well as replenishing your glycogen stores. Next, you should get plenty of sleep. I know that between job and family, this can be a challenge, but it is during sleep that the body does much of its compensation. Finally, you need to manage stress. Again, I know this can be a challenge, but if you can manage stress you will be in a better frame of mind to give a great effort during your workout. Many of our clients actually use their workouts as a stress-reliever, and then feel better when they walk out of the studio.

We want you to achieve your goals and get the best possible results, as well as remain injury-free. Hopefully this article has given you some guidance on how to maximize your recovery. If there is anything we can do to help, please let us know!

Posted November 19, 2019 by Tim Rankin