One of my favorite hip hop artists and loyal Urban Active member, Young Jeezy said, “I can sleep when I die.” This use to be my motto. I believed that there were more important things in life besides rest, recovery and sleep. To me it was a waste of time. Now that I am much wiser individual, I see the value of allowing our bodies to recover from life and from exercise. The human body is an amazing machine and with every machine, you have to charge the batteries to make it work.
One of my favorite quotes is by acclaimed fitness pro Mark Vertegen, “Work plus rest equals success.” The value of prepping our bodies for movement and helping them recover from a workout is vast. Our minds, body and soul are already stressed due to work and life but what happens when we add even more stress to through working out? Make no mistake about, exercise is stress and your body cannot tell the difference between physical stress, mental stress or emotional stress. Once it feels a stressor a hormone called cortisol is released from the adrenal glands and sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) will become overloaded.
Imagine an intense workout from a stressful day at work. Your body would be in influx, unable to recover. Without rest there is no adaptation and there is no attainment of fitness goals. “So what do we do Dr. Bowen?” I never thought you would ask. What I teach my trainers is to warm the body properly and specifically. If you are going to work lower body, we must prepare for the movements through dynamic stretching and increase structural integrity and hydration of the tissues through foam rolling techniques. These applications allow for greater range of motion and a decrease in injury possibility. After workout we must allow the body to recover so post workout we use foam rolling and dynamic stretching to flush the toxins out of the body. High intensity exercise followed by low intensity movement recovery allows for toxins to flush out and be used as a potential energy source. We also encourage that “off days” that our clients are doing movement recovery through yoga, stretching and SMR techniques. This allows us to recover faster from intense exercise and increase the likelihood of results.
So to summarize:
Prior to workout:
1. Foam Rolling techniques
2. Dynamic Stretching
Bodyweight squats, lunge patterns, scaptions
1. Circulatory Cleanse
sauna, hot tub, cold bath
*This allows for blood vessel dialation to flush the toxins out so it can be used as positive fuel for later workouts
2. Low Intensity Exercise
Yoga-style low impact exercise
Yoga to relax the body and flush out all the toxins
Sleep! Sleep is as important as your workout. Your body changes and adapts while you sleep. Growth hormone is released from the pituitary gland to repair and build muscle, as well as reduce body fat. If you never sleep these adapations can never occur. A good rule of thumb is 7-8 quality hours of sleep a day. If you need help going to sleep, simply deep breathing will often times relax the body enough to fall asleep.
In closing, to adapt and change you need intense exercise coupled with rest and recovery. All together will allow yourself to meet and exceed your fitness goals. Next up we will discuss how nutrition impacts rest and recovery.