Recovery and How to Maximise it for Optimal Performance
One of the most crucial yet overlooked aspects when it comes to optimizing performance is recovery. Understanding what it takes to be able to efficiently recover from taxing sessions (regardless of the activity) is paramount for coaches and clients alike, being able to understand the variables and how you can control them will prove fruitful in the aid to recover optimally.
Below are brief descriptions of some of the main variables when it comes to optimal recovery and what you can do to optimize them:
Being able to understand the amount of volume one needs is important, as too much will impede one’s ability to recovery efficiently for the next session. While too little will simply be futile in the strive to progress, these gauges are referred to MRV (maximum recovery volume) and MEV (minimum effective volume) and understanding their relevance to each individual client is crucial. MRV refers to the maximum amount of volume an individual can perform while being able to efficiently recover for the next session, while MEV refers to the minimum amount of volume required to achieve sufficient stimulus for progression, as an athlete it would be beneficial to understand your MEV and work to it accordingly.
Tailoring volume to a client can come in the form of adjusting overall sets per exercise per session or looking from a wider perspective and tailoring their weekly volume for specific muscle groups. For other sports, football for example, tailoring the amount of HIIT sessions or long distance runs per week in accordance with the individual will reflect positively on their ability to recover.
Another crucial variable needed when assessing optimal recovery, having a sufficient caloric intake is imperative to repair damaged tissue, ensuring that meal timings are optimal, especially around the workout window (see blog on peri workout nutrition). Having a varied yet balanced diet will prove fruitful in the quest for optimal recovery through a wider profile of micronutrients etc and improve overall health. It is advisable for coaches/ clients to have a consistent yet varied food intake that is tailored to their goals and training as this will prove to be necessary when looking to increase overall output.
The importance of sleep is something that many athletes and coaches do not take seriously enough, good quality sleep will improve circadian rhythm, improve appetite and general energy levels/ focus. With advances in technology and the various fitness trackers on the market (see blog on fitness trackers), it is easier than ever to track your sleeping patterns and assess your sleep quality.
Ensuring that your or your client’s intensity is tailored to individual needs is important, understanding that testing your/your client’s 1 rep max on every lift is both dangerous and futile when the goal is to progress muscular output, in the same way having a footballer spend an entire session sprinting is futile. Using percentage gauges of a perceived 1 rep max for an inexperienced client/ athlete is the best approach when trying to work out intensity ranges.
Another massive one that has eluded most is the perception and control of stress in our everyday lives, stress will increase cortisol and in return increase blood glucose levels, which if persistent will be detrimental to health. As discussed above the advances in technology have allowed for us to track variables in greater detail, checking things regularly such as your resting heart rate etc. Supplements such as Supportmax Neuro from Strom Sports Nutrition are excellent cortisol management tools for those who struggle to relax early in the evening. Some of my tips for reducing stress include:
- Spend less time on your phone
- No caffeine after 3pm
- Get consistent sleep
- Find a hobby e.g. gaming etc
- Eat balanced meals
Finally, here is a short list of tips I have gathered that I feel are important in order to optimize recovery:
- Get consistent sleep
- Eat consistent meals
- Limit caffeine consumption
- Invest in a fitness tracker
- Tailor training volume/intensity
- Use supplements only if you need them
By Tireoghain O’Neill