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Developing a Recovery Mindset

This is an excerpt from Smarter Recovery by Pete McCall.

With all the healthy, nutritious foods you can turn into delicious meals, why would you ever limit yourself to a diet of just peanut butter and jelly sandwiches? If you have been doing the same workout program for an extended amount of time, that is essentially what you are doing to your muscles; you are restricting them to a limited diet that could impede their ability to grow. As you will learn in the following chapters, adjusting your workout programs to impose different stimuli on your body and simply making a few adjustments to variables such as repetitions, tempo, and rest intervals could provide the stimulus needed to increase or reduce the overall stress load of a workout.

Some workouts should be challenging to produce the desired changes you want to make to your body, but the idea that all workouts need to be extremely hard or strenuous is a fallacy. Yes, harder workouts are necessary to stimulate adaptations in your muscles and physiological systems; however, lower-intensity workouts have an important role too as part of the postexercise recovery process to help alleviate discomfort the day after a really hard workout (Hausswirth and Mujika 2013). Instead of pushing yourself to the point of discomfort with every workout, learn how to use lower-intensity exercise to recover from more challenging training sessions or to reduce stress by staying active when your schedule becomes busy. Low- to moderate-intensity mobility workouts can also help reduce muscle tightness and improve blood flow after a long day of limited movement, like being stuck in meetings or sitting in a car or plane. Knowing how to alternate between high- and low-intensity workouts as well as when it might be necessary to exchange a planned high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout or heavy strength training session for some low-intensity mobility exercises could help you feel better and reduce overall stress levels.

There is such a thing as too much exercise. The use of equipment like barbells, kettlebells, or heavy medicine balls for high-intensity strength or power training, combined with the ongoing popularity of HIIT, means that a well-thought-out strategy for recovery is becoming an increasingly crucial component of a workout program. Exercising too hard during a single workout produces temporary soreness, while too many high-intensity workouts in a row without a day or two of rest could result in OTS.

Whether you are an enthusiast who exercises to look better at the beach, a weekend warrior who wants to beat the other people in the ladder at your tennis club, or an athlete working toward a scholarship or professional contract, understanding your recovery needs and how to structure various strategies into your workout program could help you achieve your fitness goals. When it comes to recovery, your mindset should be that tomorrow’s workout begins at the end of today’s. Hydration to restore fluid levels in muscle and connective tissues, healthy nutrition to replace spent energy, and adequate rest (specifically sleep) are critical during the postworkout recovery process.

An exercise program should be specific to your needs and goals, and a postexercise recovery program is the same. It does not mean just resting on the couch; instead, a recovery program should meet the specific needs of your workouts. The following chapters will go into detail about how specific strategies such as hydration, proper nutrition, elevating circulation, and getting adequate sleep work and when you should use them to help your body heal after a workout. When you know how to apply the most suitable recovery strategies for different workouts, you can train all year long with a lower risk of injury and crush your fitness goals.

More Excerpts From Smarter Recovery



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