Recovery… The least sexy topic in the industry? The most misunderstood topic in the industry? Or the missing key to results that 75% of people are neglecting?
How about all of the above? I’ll go with all of the above.
And the reason I can confidently say that about recovery, is because I’ve been involved in the industry long enough to watch thousands of people struggle to see results, neglect their recovery, and completely misunderstand how to actually apply the right principles to fully optimize recovery for optimal results.
It’s no surprise that so many people struggle with this concept of recovery because it’s just not cool to focus on, honestly. What’s cool is completing a CrossFit WOD faster than anyone else in the gym or squat, bench, and deadlifting PR’s every week or skipping sleep to grind.
All that is very true, until it’s no longer happening like it once was.
When you’re no longer hitting PR’s or crushing the WOD’s or having the energy to stay up all night grinding because you’re crashing by 1pm every single day… You know your recovery is an issue.
I did a post on instagram the other day that talked about this exact concept. The concept of how things should actually be. Which is; Eat More, Move More, Sleep More.
And yes, you absolutely can eat more and lose more fat.
Because the truth is, at least 50% of people are actually undereating calories and that is what’s holding them back from seeing results. Their hormones are pissed, body is overstressed and overly fatigued, and they’re losing performance and muscle tissue at an unacceptable rate – and all the things that would help fix this issue, fall under the umbrella of recovery.
It really is just a snowball of negative things that hold you back from losing more body fat, building more muscle, performing at a higher rate, and actually being happy – mood is a big thing here, because it’s drastically effected when you’re in a negative state with your recovery.
The way this works is simple…
When someone is under recovered, there is too much stress on the body, which in turn creates a chronically elevated cortisol level.
Chronically elevated cortisol can down regulate thyroid, create excessive amounts of inflammation in the body, negatively impact sex drive and sex related hormones, decrease insulin sensitivity, slow down metabolism, and more.
All of this can also lead to adrenal fatigue (“HPA Axis Dysfunction” – the new medical term for it) if unmanaged for too long and this will literally just shut your body down.
Before you freak out… Realize that of course not everyone is in this horrible place with their recovery, but many are on their way to it and to be honest, more people are in this place than you may realize. Because many times what gets your results at first, is exactly what leads to this negative recovery state down the road. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve talked to who were so on point with their training and nutrition, were seeing great results, and then they “all of a sudden” fell off without any real understanding of why.
They just, gave up…
They had mad cravings, horrible sleep, stopped seeing progression in the gym, started feeling anxious and overwhelmed, and “life was just too stressful” to keep it going. If you’ve experienced that, I’d have you consider that all the reasons you fell of are directly related to under recovery. That was your body’s way of getting you to stop.
“So what can we do about it?”
We need to take control of what we’re doing (specifically with our recovery – or lack thereof). And we can do that by handling 4 specific aspects, which will directly fix the issue and start to put our body in that place of better recovery so it can finally progress towards better results.
Lucky for you, I have an awesome acronym for you to remember it all!
Diet | Intensity | Patience | Sleep
In all honesty, if I had to put an order of operations on this… It’d be DISP, but that just doesn’t sound cool or flow right. See if you dial in your diet then your training intensity will improve, you’ll see better results, and you’ll give in to dropping that intensity down a bit. After that, your sleep will improve and then you’ll just need to be patient. But for the sake of the acronym, let’s break this down as stated – DIPS, The Equation For Better Recovery.
I just had a competitive CrossFit client email me, who has been working with me for 2 weeks (which means she’s been following my nutrition protocols for less time than that), and tell me that she’s already PR’d in 2 different things (Fran and 500 meter row) since we changed her nutrition around.
What did I do to her nutrition? I gave her more calories, helped her tweak her nutrient timing just a little bit, and I adjusted her macronutrient ratios.
What happened to her body when we did that? Her recovery became way better. Period. End of story. She didn’t build a ton of muscle in a week and she probably didn’t improve her conditioning capacity that much either.
But because we shifted her nutrition, her recovery will be better and better after each session she has. This is going to have a compound effect that ends up leading to a better hormonal balance, more nutrient absorption, more lean muscle mass, more strength, and as time goes on less body fat.
The average gym goer is undereating calories Sunday to Sunday or they’re like I was and are under consuming calories Sunday – Friday and over consuming calories, usually through alcohol and junk, on Saturday alone.
Both of which will have the negative affects listed earlier in the article.
The issue is that we’ve been sold the equation of calories in vs. calories out leads to fat loss, so we need to be in a deficit if we want to get lean. There are 2 issues with this:
1.) You were already undereating before you decided to create a deficit, which means that you are now an ultra undereater!
2.) You create a big deficit and then train more, which are 2 massive stressors on your body – no bueno compadre.
The simple answer to all of this is to get better quality nutrients in your diet and to have a realistic calorie intake with a smart macronutrient ratio.
(Want to set up macros for yourself that actually work? Get my latest Ebook HERE)
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The amount of people who over do intensity with their training is overwhelming. And with all the HIIT style workouts, CrossFit, and super high volume bodybuilding workouts out nowadays it’s not a big surprise. Plus, the people who promote those products are usually shredded to the gills. Could be genetics or who knows, maybe they actually prioritize recovery too (many do, I know a lot of them).
So what’s the answer to intensity within your training? 50/50.
You shouldn’t be all in on one side; you need balance in your training programs. Lower intensity cardio and weight training is absolutely needed to see serious results. But guess what? Higher intensity training is needed as well.
There are some very beneficial benefits to high intensity training, mentally and physically. So you absolutely need to have some in your training if you want to burn more fat, increase metabolism, build muscle, and become mentally tough.
But if all’s you do is high intensity training, you’re going to burn out faster than anyone else will – I guarantee it.
Low intensity cardio burns pure body fat and lower intensity weight training is great for adding in more volume and frequency to build muscle while not over loading your central nervous system.
But if all’s you do is low intensity cardio and training, you’ll never get really strong or muscular. You’ll probably be a skinny fat wimp (I know… Harsh, sorry).
For these reasons, you need to have 2-3 days per week of each modality, both high and low intensity. This is going to give you the best of both worlds while not over doing either one.
Both of these done too much will lead to all of those negative hormonal down regulations we spoke of earlier that will cause a serious lack of results.
Of course, being the realistic person I am, I had to throw this into the acronym. Because at the end of the day, people want results far too fast and they end up destroying their bodies inside and out because of it.
If you’re not willing to spend at least 3 months focusing on your goals and doing things the right way… shit, I don’t know what to tell you. It’s just absolutely necessary.
Now obviously some people need much longer than that and others who only have 5lbs to lose or only care about performance, can see results much quicker. But just as fast as we can see positive changes in your body and performance, they can be taken away if the individual is not consistently adhering to their protocols (nutrition, training, recovery).
What’s a realistic timeline?
Well, that really depends on the individual. That’s exactly why before I take anyone on for coaching, we get on a strategy call and go over their training/diet history, specific goals, current roadblocks they’re facing, and the exact path we’ll take to get them to the results they’re searching for.
Click Here Now for an Opportunity to get on a Free Strategy Call with me so we can map out your future results.
My best advice is to focus on the path and the process, rather than the end goal or deadline. Doing this will allow you to get the most out of what’s possible, while actually holding onto your health while doing it.
We’re going to finish with debatably the most important piece of fat loss, muscle growth, and performance. Yeah, sleep really is that important for results.
There have been plenty of studies to show that it is literally the key in all this.
Simple. Sleep is literally the epitome of recovery. During sleep, your body is recovering, rebuilding, and re-synthesizing.
Your muscle tissue is built during this time, the recovery of your nervous system happens during this time, your metabolism increases during this time, your body is going through fat oxidation during this time, and your hormones are literally re-synthesizing at this time.
I don’t know if I can say much more about sleep to help you understand how important it truly is.
At the end of the day, the less sleep you have – the more stress you’ll have.
And as we know, training and dieting are both stressors. Work is a stressor. Shit, even just thinking is a stressor!! Writing this blog is a stressor!! So we need to start focusing on recovery of all the stressors in our life if we want to improve results, across the board.
The best way to do this is to ensure you’re getting enough quality sleep every single night.
This means sleeping in a pitch black, cool temperature, quiet room for 7-9 hours every single night.
I don’t care if you’re on #TeamNoSleep and you can easily go hard with only 4 hours.
Guess what? I can easily do that too, for now. It ends up leading to burn out, trust me.
And you may not even know what it’s like to be your best because you have that awfully unoptimistic attitude holding you back from top-notch sleep.
So do yourself and your results the biggest favor you possibly can, sleep more.
And follow my D.I.P.S. concept so you can optimize your recovery!