Whether you are an avid gym goer or a professional athlete, recovery is something that should be considered for training adaptation across all spectrums. And in the vast majority of cases is something that is considered separately to a training routine, rather than being partnered along with it as it should be, writes Damien Rooney.
Obviously for a day to day gym goer who is training for general health and aesthetic purposes it doesn’t hold as big an impact as a competitive athlete. And in the realm of competitive athletics, the further you move up the spectrum, and the finer the margins become, the more important things like recovery become on overall performance.
When you consider the highest levels in many sports in the Olympics say are separated by hundredths of seconds, even the finest tuning in a training and recovery schedule can have a massive impact and make all of the difference.
So what factors need to be considered when we talk about recovery?
As much for preventing overtraining as facilitating recovery, correct programming is key to this. Ensuring to set up your training split efficiently depending on what level of competition you are preparing for, and what phase of training you are currently in. One must ensure that the correct rest periods between sessions, and intensity levels of particular training are set up correctly to facilitate the maximum gains while ensuring the body is able to perform at the highest level throughout.
Obviously a massive determinate that is overlooked in many cases. As we spoke about, when it comes to the highest level of competition when the margins are so fine, factors such as proper nutrition can make all the difference in recovery and overall performance. Nutrient timing and meal content can play a huge role in recovery and help facilitate an effective training program.
Another variable that is sometimes overlooked but has massive importance on recovery is sleep. The body heals and repairs during the sleep cycle, and with this being fully within your control it is important to make sure that you are getting an adequate amount of sleep to compliment your training routine.
These are another two methods employed by many to aid in recovery. Active recovery like light jogs, walks or swims have been used by many athletes as very low intensity training days essentially with the aim of reducing delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMs), improving mobility and aiding in the recovery process.
Flexibility training is another option used to enhance recovery. While many studies have shown no significant reduction in DOMs, it has been shown to help improve mobility and decrease the risk of injury in many cases. So many athletes at the highest levels still use it in their recovery protocols.
Treatments such as sports massage, acupuncture and cryotherapy to name just a few, are used by many athletes to try and promote healing and aid in the recovery process.
As we have spoke about several times in the article, gaining even the finest of margins at the pinnacle of competitive sport can sometimes mean the difference between victory and defeat. While many remedial therapies again in scientific studies have been shown to have a limited impact on performance and indeed recovery, they are still employed by high level athletes across many different fields worldwide.
Having someone who has the knowledge overseeing your training schedule is obviously key to prevent overtraining and maximise recovery.
As many times for high level competition it is not always necessarily the best, but the smartest athlete that will win.
Words by Damien Rooney
Damien Rooney is a professional mixed martial arts fighter who has faced the likes of Tom Duquesnoy, Alan Philpott, Neil Seery and Paddy Holohan throughout the course of his career. He is also the author of the RITE Diet Cookbook, which you can order by clicking the link above.