Let’s Talk Recovery!
Written by: DCCF-Member, Dr. Daryl Williams PT, DPT, SCS
Getting Bigger, Stronger, and Faster doesn’t happen mid-WOD… Let me explain!
Athletes and coaches will blame lack of consistent nutrition, bad programming, or lack of mobility as a reason for their injuries or inability to improve their performance. Although these are important, THE MOST OFTEN OVERLOOKED area of fitness is in RECOVERY!
Adaptive changes: Improved endurance, strength, power, conditioning i.e. GAINS
Minimal Effective Dose: Minimal amount of stimulus needed to create adaptive changes. (Bigger,Faster, Stronger) Anything BELOW this will lead to NO GAINZ
Maximal Adaptive Volume: OPTIMAL volume where GAINZ are being made and the athlete is recovering sufficiently.
Maximal Recoverable Volume: Maximal amount of volume we can train at and recover sufficiently. At times, this needs to be surpassed to overload the system but then NEEDS to be followed by periods of deloading to allow for GAINZ
HOWEVER, AS A CROSSFIT COMMUNITY, WE OFTEN FEEL MORE IS BETTER, SO WE OFTEN TRAIN AT OR ABOVE MAXIMAL RECOVERABLE VOLUME LEADING TO INJURY AND DECLINE IN PERFORMANCE; however, our RECOVERY EFFORTS and LIFE happenings aren’t taken into account.
Therefore TRAINING VOLUME IS THE MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR WHEN IT COMES TO INJURY PREVENTION.
Below is a picture to best illustrate this. This work is done by Dr. Gabbet (I will include a link to him below). This graph best explains the IMPORTANT concept of acute to chronic workload ratio which is comparing your overall training volume acutely (1 week) to chronic loads (4+ weeks). A sweet spot was defined as 0.8-1.3 as OPTIMAL.
SO HERE IS THE MEAT AND POTATOES:
Our MAXIMAL RECOVERABLE VOLUME is a changeable variable. As our fitness and lifestyle influencers on recovery improve, we can work on improving our tolerance to volume. Now let’s back up and talk about LIFESTYLE INFLUENCERS… your body doesn’t know whether or not you did Murph, had a stressful week at work, slept 2hrs because of a screaming baby, went out and drank heavily all night, or fought off a grizzly bear. The body just perceives all of this as stressors to the body and it analyzes all of this info and says, “The next time x, y, or z comes around… I need to be bigger, faster, or stronger,” to overcome that stressor. This is an important thing we NEVER consider in our fitness journey and training volume, but are quick to make an excuse as to why we sucked at a workout.
ALL OF THE CROSSFIT athletes I treat usually come to me with an injury following a sudden increase in their training volume, yet all of their lifestyle factors are still present and they are not spending any more time on their recovery efforts.
So, a GENERAL RULE OF THUMB is to increase volume in small incremental amounts of 10-15% per week. This will allow for proper recovery and adaptive changes to occur while minimizing risk for re-injury.
However, since we are CrossFit athletes it makes it a little harder to track reps/sets when looking at the types of workouts we do throughout the week.
So, we can utilize the RPE system (Ratings of Perceived Exertion)
Here’s how to track:
RPE rating (what you rate a workout) x number of mins trained = workload
If your workload for the week totaled 1000 then the next week we would only want to increase this by 10-15%. A workload any higher WILL INCREASE RISK FOR INJURY AND LIMIT GAINZ TO OCCUR SIMPLY BECAUSE YOU HAVE EXCEEDED YOUR BODY’S ABILITY TO RECOVER FROM THIS.
Some more PRACTICAL ways to apply this could be a “lifer” doing a “splife” workout 1x/week for a month, or a “splifer” doing a “sport” intensity 1x/week for a month. Then, increase the number of higher intensity workouts you are completing on a weekly basis each month to mimic that 10-15% intensity increase. DO NOT go from doing all “life or splife” workouts to doing all “sport” workouts at once. This WILL lead to overuse injuries until your body adapts to the training volume.
If you are starting to feel sore or beat up regularly and notice you can’t recover do one of two things:
1. Take an extra rest day per week (I promise you won’t lose all your GAINZ by taking a day off)
2. Take one workout per week and just cruise at about a 6 on the RPE scale.
REMEMBER WE ARE FOCUSED ON TRAINING WHICH IS A LIFELONG ENDEAVOUR NOT COMING IN FIRST EVERY TIME ON THE BOARD JUST TO STROKE OUR EGOS. (Trust me I can be guilty of this)
Training constantly above our maximal recoverable volume WILL lead to injury and a decrease in performance. Not only are you mad because you aren’t getting stronger, but you are mad because you have to come spend $$ to come see me. Which I don’t mind lol… but I want to empower everyone with the knowledge to avoid that if possible.
So, let’s put this info to use and make sure we are really getting everything out of all the blood, sweat, tears, and chalk we leave on the floor day in and day out to get the most out of our GAINZ.
Disclaimer: I didn’t make any of this stuff up. All of the important research was done by Dr. Mike Israetel, Dr. Tim Gabbet, and James Hoffman. Please check them out if you are in to reading research articles!