How can I track and optimize my recovery?
We all know that recovery is important to our training success. Understanding your own recovery will help you make informed decisions about your training. But what should you be looking for? How do you know when you might need a little more rest?
Recovery needs to be constantly monitored using a series of indicators that will show trends in increasing or declining performance.
Below are 9 indicators that can be monitored daily.
Resting Heart Rate
In times of distress (Flight or fight) the heart rate will elevate, this may be a sign of sympathetic overtraining. A decreased heart rate may indicate parasympathetic “rest and digest” stress, which brings the body back to homeostasis.
Resting heart rate can be measured by taking the pulse on your wrist or neck and counting the number of beats in 60 seconds. The most accurate time will be before getting out bed (from a decent night’s sleep). Following 3 weeks of data, a change +/- 5% can be considered a negative response associated with fatigue or stress.
Drastic changes in body weight can have negative effects on performance and cognitive functionality. Weight can fluctuate because of loss or gain in body fat, muscle mass and/or insufficient hydration or nutrition. Monitoring weight will provide feedback on daily energy and hydration needs. A loss of body weight of greater than 2% is considered a negative response, and can negatively impact recovery and performance.
Sleep quantity and sleep quality are important markers to track in relation to performance. Sleep affects growth hormone and testosterone production and release; the immune system; and muscle repair, all of which can affect performance. It has been suggested that eight hours of sleep each night should be the target, and a good marker to set when tracking sleep quantity. While in a deep sleep, more oxygen, growth hormones and nutrients are delivered to muscles which will aid in better recovery. Measuring sleep quality can be as simple as: Did you wake up during the night? were you tossing and turning? Were you restless? There are also many apps you can download to help track sleep quality.
When the sympathetic nervous system is triggered due to stress such as increased training volume or intensity, appetite will decrease. This will negatively affect energy balance, hydration and performance. Proper consumption of macronutrients and micronutrients will affect recovery, performance, immune-system, and hormonal balance. This marker will also be directly related to body weight changes.
The effectiveness of a training program can be tied to the principle of overload. Challenging the body differently in each training session with adjustments in movement, volume and intensity to produce a positive training response. These variables if applied properly will damage muscle fibers and result in soreness. Persistent or severe soreness can indicate the need for further recovery.
Many of the above markers can be affected by mood. Work, family, relationships, finances can be very stressful and we see mood swings, depression and anxiety very often in today’s population. These stressful states will have a negative affect on training, and are worth monitoring throughout a given day.
Everything you’ve read about “sweating it out” may not be the best solution to recovering when feeling under the weather. When a feeling of headaches, nausea, gastrointestinal discomfort, coughing, or sore throats are present; high intensity training can exacerbate the symptoms, and is recommended to not partake in training until recovered.
Previous Training Day
Effective training programs should lead to progress. If training is leading to a drop in results it may be indicative of decreased recovery status. Everyone will have a bad day here and there, but a trend of poor performances in training is a clear sign of that further recovery may be needed.
Tracking these markers over days, weeks and months will provide you with a snapshot of how effective your recovery is. Using a rating scale of 1-5 is an effective and easy approach. After a few weeks of data, follow these guidelines.
1)80-100% positive trending responses is a green light to continue your training and recovery processes and potentially even in crease volume or intensity
2)60-80% positive trending responses, you should continue training, but with caution. Potentially lower training volume and intensity or plan another rest day
3)Less than 50% positive trending responses is an indication to stop your training program and prioritize your recovery method and strategies.
In our 416Life Nutrition and Lifestyle program, recovery plays a major role in our prescription. The templates we provide to members include an interactive table and chart to map out your recovery markers week to week. These markers assist your coach in determining nutritional or lifestyle adjustments to help reach your goal.
What is holding you back from your first muscle-up?
Much like a pull-up early on in your training journey, the muscle-up is one of the most coveted movements in CrossFit. Everyone remembers the time they got their first one and the feeling of excitement and accomplishment that ensued.
The muscle-up is the ultimate test of the upper body, moving from a vertical pull through a transition into a dip. This requires strength, mobility, stability, body awareness and technique.
So where do you start?
To ensure you have the appropriate strength and stability, we recommend the ability to perform 5 x strict chest to bar pull-ups and 5 x strict ring dips as the bare minimum. The more pull-ups and ring dips you are able to complete, the faster the muscle-up will come.
Once you’re are able to achieve this bare minimum, skill and body shape/awareness must be acquired.
Learning the transition in a muscle-up can prove to be a daunting task, but here are a few sure-fire ways to achieve it with dedicated practice.
False Grip – The false grip rotates your hands over the rings so that your wrist carries most of your body weight and shortens your lever arm decreasing the distance from the hanging position to the start of the transition. This false grip will also provide a natural shift into the dip portion of the movement. To become comfortable in the false grip, first practice on the low rings, hanging back (like a ring row), then work your way to the high rings. Hang time is the important factor. Challenge yourself by simply hanging in the false grip building up to :30 sec (make sure your arms are completely locked out) in an active position.
Pulling Mechanics – Once you have mastered the false grip, you must be able to maintain it while pulling your body up to the rings. Since you achieved the bare minimum of 5 strict chest to bar pull-ups, we know that you have the strength; the skill is your ability to keep your knuckles and rings as close together as possible through the pull while you aim to bring your sternum to the rings. Allowing the rings to come apart and outside your body will significantly increase the difficulty of the transition. Practice this on the low rings, with control, and work your way up to the high rings. With your body hanging, it is crucial to maintain a hollow body position to limit force bleed and provide mechanical advantage. As you pull, keep the legs pressing together and slightly in front of the rings with your abs braced.
The Dip and Ring Support – A muscle-up transition performed with efficiency will result in a very low receiving position (think elbows above your shoulders at the bottom of a dip). Becoming comfortable in this position requires stability at the end range of your shoulder extension. Start on the low rings and lower down as far as you can in a ring dip and try to hold (ensure you’re keeping the rings close to your body). Build up until you can hold for :25-:30 sec. Once you can achieve this, work at pressing out that low dip position to the top of a ring dip with your arms locked out
The Transition – The transition is the link between the hang, pull, and dip in the muscle-up. Once you have accomplished the above skill and strength requirements, developing the transition will be the final piece. Starting on the low rings with your toes on the ground, practice the transition by pulling in a false grip to your sternum, then drive your head between the rings as you outline your chest with your thumbs, and pull your elbows behind you. You will then find yourself at the bottom of a ring dip. Continue to practice this on the low rings until you reach 40-50 reps over the course of a week or two. Then challenge yourself on the high rings.
The above progression is a baseline to achieving a strict muscle-up. Becoming comfortable in the static positions, and practicing the skill work are both required to accelerate your success.
Along the way there may be some sticking points. I encourage you to book a 30 min skill session with a coach to help identify your technical issues and develop a an individualized plan to achieving your goal.
GRIT Running’s first cycle is entering its final week. It was a great first go-round, with many memorable moments. The best feedback thus far is hearing that athletes are embracing the opportunity to push their limits on all ends of the performance spectrum.
Two examples that jump out are Keren working through a knee injury and gradually beginning to log additional kilometers on her feet; and Artem unintentionally besting his 5km during class with a tremendous 17:08.
The focus of the first cycle focused on pacing splits efficiently and building work capacity by exposure to different running protocols. Exposure to throwing, plyometrics and loaded carries (sleds, sandbags) provided the opportunity to apply explosive strength.
Due to popular demand, weekend homework is now included. Our homework allows the athletes to get some longer distances on their feet and includes a contest element. Preeti, who is now enjoying her running, was the first winner. She won a Lululemon water bottle for her picture of the cityscape from the East end of the waterfront.
As the program moves forward, these elements will continue to form the foundation of the program, but we also look forward to providing athletes the opportunity to improve their running mechanics and technique. We’ll do this by applying warm-ups that focus on biomechanical efficiency. We will also address cadence and technique in our workouts through the incorporation of targeted progressions.
Additionally, we will be incorporating GRIT Debriefs into the program design. GRIT Debriefs are an opportunity for coach-athlete collaboration in an open-ended way. Whether its goal setting, injury concern, feedback on the program, or just about anything else, the debrief will provide the opportunity for athletes and coaches to address issues and problem solve together.
If you’re interested in booking a debrief, send Coach Andrew a note.
You can now sign-up for our summer cycle (June 19 – August 9) Click here: http://crossfit416.wodify.com/OnlineSalesPortal/PlansEntry.aspx?LocationId=3528
“Progressive Overload is the gradual increase of stress placed on the body during exercise training”. It is the universal principle that links together many strength and conditioning programs, including weightlifting, high-intensity training, physical therapy, etc. The opposite of Progressive Overload training is to do the same workout again and again.
To my knowledge, the term Progressive Overload remains generally left out of the vernacular in the running community, but the principle remains. Instead, terms like tempo, intervals and lactate threshold training are more common. All these concepts come down to the simple idea that if you want to improve your body’s adaptation, the volume and intensity should be gradually increased to support your goal.
How does this apply to running? Use the example of wanting to improve your 5km race time. If your current 5km is 22 minutes, there are two general approaches you could take:
- Go out and run 5km and build your bodies adaptation process. This is the equivalent of doing the same thing again and again. This approach is standard and the training intensity is likely to respond to how your feeling and the environmental conditions of the day.
- Progressive Overload Principle: This could take several forms.
- Interval/Tempo runs: The simplest example is 1km splits at 3:59 to get your body use to running at a sub 20-minute pace.
- Longer Runs: Use longer runs to build your body’s adaptation working at longer time domains. This strategy is difficult to employ for longer distances because it is often the goal just to accomplish the distance itself but could work for 5 and 10km.
- Add Variety: Using loaded carries (sandbags, sleds), adding throws, plyometrics, and speed work all support adaptation. The added benefit of these exercises is that they target the positions and muscles that runners often neglect.
In GRIT, we apply the Progressive Overload Principle in all of our workouts, such as adding loaded carries and throws to our aerobic based workouts. The pacing workouts provide the opportunity to get our bodies used to moving at higher intensities. It may be that the first lap you to run feels easy and that’s because it should be. It will be sub-maximal effort while you’re feeling fresh, but as your body begins to fatigue, the goal is to maintain the effort. This teaches your body to adapt and sustain an overall faster pace over longer runs.
For the CrossFitter or general fitness enthusiasts, the great benefit is that improving your running will translate into your ability to sustain your output in your other workouts. In other words, when you build your running engine, it builds your overall ability to in other workouts. This is why many top CrossFitters have incorporated strategic running workouts into their programs, but the idea is not new. For example, Muhammad Ali always used running in his training. He developed this habit from a very young age and used it through his entire career. If you need to go 12 rounds, your body needs to be able to keep processing oxygen even if you’re tired.
Regardless of your goal, using the Progressive Overload Principle can structure your approach by ensuring volume and intensity are balanced to support progress. The benefit for runners is that this can lead to personal bests. The advantage for CrossFitters and others looking to incorporate running into their regime is that there are carryover benefits to your other training.
Check out the Grit Running Page for info on our training program.
Congratulations on completing our latest cycle! We had a great time coaching you to strength PR’s while addressing common structural imbalances. It goes to show that implementing mixture of bilateral/unilateral loaded movements, holds and carries are extremely beneficial in strength gains!
Next up: our focus will be to develop strength, explosiveness and athleticism via Power and Olympic lifts. Also included will be dedicated exposure to gymnastic movements. Conditioning will compliment the volume and intensity completed in strength or skill work.
There are 3 blocks within this cycle that follow a 21-day template. Within each 21-day template you will be exposed to a squat/pressing variation, Deadlift, Olympic lifting, dedicated focus on gymnastic days, Primal & unilateral focused days as well as OHS development.
Day 1: Intensity WOD + Back Squat & Press
Day 2: Deadlift & Pull ups + WOD
Day 3: Gymnastics Volume + WOD
Day 4: Heavy Primal/Unilateral /Strongman/OHS
Day 5: Olympic Lifting + WOD
Day 6: Partner WOD
Day 7: Gymnastic Intensity + WOD
Day 8: Back Squat & Press + WOD
Day 9: Olympic Lifting + WOD
Day 10: Gymnastic Intensity + WOD
Day 11: Intensity WOD + Back Squat & Floor Press
Day 12: Olympic Lifting + WOD
Day 13 : Partner WOD
Day 14: Gymnastics Volume + WOD
Day 15: Heavy Primal/Unilateral & Strongman
Day 16: Olympic Lifting & WOD
Day 17: Gymnastics Volume + WOD
Day 18: Back Squat & Floor Press + WOD
Day 19: Overhead Squat & WOD
Day 20: Partner WOD
Day 21: Gymnastics Intensity + WOD
We are going to prioritize the back squat. It will be your best friend in getting you hella strong! Squatting days will be coupled with a pressing variation balancing the stress of increased weight and varied volume with adequate recovery in order to see progress for an extended period of time and avoid stalling. Variables will change within each block. Deadlifts will be paired with strict pull-ups and seen once per block due to ensure adequate recovery.
Heavy Primal/Unilateral Movements
We have become accustomed to primarily moving in one plane of motion while we train. The addition of heavy primal and unilateral work will force us to challenge various ranges of motion, all while developing strength and stability in different planes of movement translating to better movement in every day life.
Olympic lifts are the most effective way to train explosiveness and athleticism using a barbell. Both fitness and performance will incrementally develop power by following a linear progression. Tech work will vary and be completed before to prime the movement for working sets.
There will be a dedicated focus on two gymnastic movements within each block. Gymnastics focus days will be on Wednesdays and Sundays, alternating between volume and intensity within each block to ensure adequate exposure.
GPP. Constantly varied. Be prepared for anything…. including seeing WOD’s before your strength work!
Some things to keep in mind over the next 10 weeks:
- We are here to train proper movement! Strive to maintain proper posture and position with all movements you do, this is imperative to optimizing your training!
- A high score on the whiteboard means nothing if you are moving poorly.
- Take rest days. Listen to your body, if it’s saying no, say no to the gym and enjoy a day off. This will better you in the long run and improve your training!
- Be open to new training methodologies and have AS MUCH FUN AS POSSIBLE!
– Coach Koo
The over-training syndrome – ever heard of it?
It looks like a cold, grey, rainy day – the most common symptom being fatigue. This will limit your workouts and will also be present at rest. Your muscles will always feel sore and you might find yourself a little more irritable and moody than usual. Studies have shown that athletes who are overtraining have an increased cortisol level, your body’s “stress” hormone. Depending on the type of training you do, your sympathetic or parasympathetic nervous system takes a beating and you’ll no longer be able to sustain usual heart rate or usual recovery rate while training.
It’s no secret that in order to see improvements you have to train hard. Rest makes you stronger. Breaking down your muscles over and over again without giving them time to recover does not.Instead of pushing yourself to the point of overtraining and then learning your lesson, let’s try and prevent this before it happens.
Over training can take forms in a couple different ways. Pushing your body to complete exhaustion by adding on multiple metcons or lifts after you’ve already taken a beating from your first hour of training. Or training full throttle 7 days a week without taking a day of rest. Unless you’re a dedicated competitive athlete, have slowly adapted to this type of volume, or are superman, this is much more taxing on your body than you think.
If this sounds familiar, let’s take a look at why you might be over training in the first place.
You can’t out-train a bad diet. It really is one of the hardest things to hear and even more difficult to fully understand and apply to your training. I actually think it might be the most difficult thing athletes try to understand. You’re overtraining because you’re trying to be the super magic unicorn who will finally prove everyone wrong – that yes, you can out-train a bad diet. You’re adding in extra workouts and more volume because maybe you had first, second and third breakfast.
This idea came to me only recently as I found myself trying to, once again, be that super magic unicorn. I used to be very guilty of this. I would create my own hybrid program of multiple WODs, accessory work, lifting etc. until I felt that I had put enough work in. Most of the time I would leave the gym feeling like I hadn’t done enough for the day. I would leave unsatisfied and would deem that workout a “bad workout”. Following a program and sticking to it was always incredibly difficult. I would blame the program for not seeing results and quickly change it up, or again, add more volume. Last year I decided to once and for all get my nutrition in check. Around this time, I started following a training program. This was the first time in my life I stuck to the program. I would enter the gym, do what was programmed for the day and I would always feel like it was enough. This time, I knew it was enough. I was seeing results. The program was working. I was eating to support the training I was doing.
At the end of the day, it isn’t your program that’s giving you issues – it’s your dinner. Focus on giving your 100% during every workout, no matter what it may be, and don’t forget that your nutrition requires 100% as well.
Not everyone has time to even risk over training and maybe you’re reading this article saying “God, even if I did want to workout all day every day, I would never be able to.” Your nutrition plays a huge role in that one hour you spend at the gym. Don’t let that effort go to waste. Fuel the hour properly so you know you’re able to give 100%, and then leave the gym confidently knowing that you did enough.
Here are few easy things to consider to make sure your diet it supporting your training:
Eat – A balanced diet is one of the most important elements to prevent overtraining. You have to eat enough to support what you’re putting your body through in the gym but not so much that you’re taking in more energy than you’re expending. If you’re looking to lean out, this is especially true. Talk to a nutrition coach or work one-on-one with a coach to make sure you’re eating the proper amount of food to get to your goals.
Don’t be afraid of carbs – They’re your friend. Carbohydrates are your body’s most preferred source for energy. Getting enough carbs and topping up glycogen stores after depletion makes sure that you’re ready to go for your next session. It also helps with overall alertness and energy levels for the rest of the day after your hard training session. Working with a coach can help you eliminate the trial and error of trying to find the amount of carbohydrates that works for you and your training regimen.
Be aware of your deficiencies – Take the time to get tested for any possible micronutrient deficiencies. If you’re feeling sluggish all the time (and have eliminated the possibility that your diet is to blame), check your b12 and iron levels. In the winter, make sure to take vitamin D!
As previously mentioned, working with a coach can help teach you lots about your body and what you need in order to optimize performance levels. We often forget that nutrition, although incredibly important, isn’t the only factor that can help or deter us from living a healthy lifestyle. With 416Life, we prioritize not only nutrition but also other lifestyle factors that come into play when looking to achieve certain goals. Mood, stress levels, and sleep quality are all at the top of our list when checking off things that can enhance our day-to-day life and also day-to-day performance in the gym.
Work with a 416Life Coach and start learning what’s best for your body and your lifestyle. If training and performance is your number one priority, we’ll guide you on how to eat to properly fuel your workouts and achieve your ideal body composition leaving you feeling confident that your training program is effective. If you’re generally active but your goals lie outside of the gym, we’ll make sure that your time is well spent in the gym and that the rest of your lifestyle choices are made to support whatever goals you may have.
I look forward to working with you.
Mark Jenkins, MD http://www.rice.edu/~jenky/sports/overtraining.html