Welcome to another week – this week is SUPER exciting as we have another challenge starting (2022 Summer Slam). I have been through it a million times before but I just love-love-love the challenges…they get me in a good training ‘head space’ for just a ‘little while’ and the positive habits I form while they are on really do flow on after the challenge has ‘finished’.
Going back to last week for a moment, I thought we got off to a GREAT start with the Tuesday Championship Series (read more here: https://round1fitness.com.au/20220925/). Week#1 of the championship had us competing for BIKE calories and the winners were Team 6pm with an incredible score of 980 calories. This week we will be ROWING and hopefully everyone (once again) gets into the spirit of things and we all try to row as far as we can when our turn comes around…
With the challenge imminent, I have been thinking (a lot) about ways to maximise outcomes in the gym. I mean, we are all in the gym for different reasons – but regardless of your own individual goals right now (mine right now are to drop some kegs and just start feeling a bit ‘better’) you have to remember that the improvements you get from coming to the gym don’t happen WHILST you are training…all of the ‘magic’ happens in between workouts while you recover.
So – I guess the important part to understand is what recovery actually ‘looks like’ – the obvious answers is that it can be ‘anything’ really but 100% includes things such as:
Rolling/Massage Ball work
Yoga (depending on the nature of the session)
Whatever your ‘preferred’ mode of recovery, it is important to recognise that the ‘recovery stage’ kicks off as soon as the workout has ended – and that it is up-to-you to decide how effective that recovery (and hence how effective your workout) is to be!
Before going any further – it would be great if you could pause for 20-seconds and just think about what your post workout routine looks like ‘right now’. Mine is kind of wander around and have a chat to the people I trained with for 3 minutes, remember that I have to go and spray my gear down – so I go and spray my gear down then go back to work. In other words, it is NOT very effective (or targeted) and it is 100% not helping me get where I want to go. I like to joke that “I don’t need to stretch/recover because when I grew up no-one knew it was good for you – therefore none of that stuff applies to people as old as me”. Given I am writing this little post right now, how exactly do you think that approach is working out for me???
Anyway…when we train our SYMPATHETIC nervous system takes over. This is the system that controls our fight/flight response – essentially it prepares the body for strenuous physical activity. The PARASYMPATHETIC nervous system looks after ‘rest and recover’ activities. There is an awesome example of how a person can go from PARASYMPATHETIC function to SYMPATHETIC function at the drop of a hat (or as in the example – at the opening of a car door!) here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1959222/ The article is entitled ‘Physiology of the Autonomic Nervous System’ and it has kind of inspired me to write this post…essentially if you want to activate your PARASYMPATHETIC system after a period of ‘SYMPATHETIC’ activity, it isn’t quite as simple as just ‘stopping’…it takes time. You can really influence (and reduce) the amount of time this takes by using a recovery protocol to ‘ACTIVELY’ move yourself into a ‘PARASYMPATHETIC’ state and thus enable all of the benefits of your training (which happen BETWEEN workouts) to take hold.
What would this sort of ‘Recovery Protocol’ look like? Well – the target is to ACTIVELY reduce your heart-rate and essentially ‘calm down’ prior to leaving the gym. Could you try to do this stuff in your car? Well…maybe? I guess you can be the judge but I would say it’s unlikely…certainly the best approach (and I know a lot of people are working to a schedule, particularly in the mornings) would be to actually take ‘5-minutes’ post session to ‘reset’ before leaving.
Step 1 – Lay down, Feet elevated against a wall. The goal here is to return all of the blood that has pooled in your biggest muscles (your legs!) and return it to your heart, your lungs and your brain.
Step 2 – Slow, nasal breathing. Whilst laying down (see step 1), focus on breathing in and out through your nose. Take steady/slow breaths, try to relax and actively ‘slow your heart-rate’. You don’t need to scroll through your phone right now – the target here is 2-3 minutes.
Step 3 – Stretch (again, 2-3 minutes). Our traditional post boxing stretching routine is perfect – or maybe there is a targeted stretch (couch stretch, hip flexors, lats, whatever!)
Step 4 – Refuel. Now that your PARASYMPATHETIC system has been activated, you will be ‘all good’ to eat some food. The ideal here would be to eat some ‘real’ food…but if you can at least have a shake to start replacing the nutrients lost during your session, well, that’s going to be better than nothing at all.
That’s it. 4x steps post workout to maximise your results IN the workout…Is it possible to do ‘all 4’ after EVERY session? Given the pace of life in 2022, probably not. Could we all adapt our post workout activities a ‘LITTLE’ bit? Well…of course we could!
See you in the gym,
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