Recovery depends on multiple factors including how much time you rest between your workouts. Recently, a guy named CT Fletcher became popular on YouTube. CT, who is probably the most motivational exercise figure I have ever seen, promotes the There is no overtraining approach to exercise in many of his videos. A lot of people take it literally, criticize him, blame him for lying on steroid use, etc., etc… What do I think? Well I won’t get into the whole steroid thing, but I will focus on what matters; overtraining definitely exists. If you overdo it, you will harm your progress and your body. Still, I think CT gets a very important message across. His message is that there are too many lazy people and keyboard warriors out there, afraid to push themselves a bit and talking shit while eating bon bons (as CT puts it) instead of getting their lazy ass of the couch (as he says). Some people just need figures like CT to wake up. I do not believe he is being literal by saying there is no overtraining and I’m sure if you read his workout books there will be some kind periodization in his training programs. So do not take people like him literally, avoid extremes and if it helps you – use these people to get pumped up and motivated.
Aside from the exercise/resting ratio, there are also some other very important factors that influence recovery and strength performance. Remember, our muscles grow while we are resting. Three important factors to take under consideration for a proper recovery in strength development are the following:
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1. Sleep Quality and Quantity
Sleep quality and quantity. Our DNA hasn’t changed much in the last 10.000 years and that means that our biological clock works optimally in the same natural rhythms as our ancient ancestors. Our bodies are programmed to sleep according to the circadian cycle which basically means that we are programmed to sleep when there is darkness and wake up when there is light. Studies have shown that there might even be a connection of bad sleep with diabetes, obesity and depression.
Sleep is probably the most important factor for strength athletes in terms of recovery. Getting an average of 8 hours of quality sleep (30-60 more minutes if you are in your teens) is a natural way to supplement your exercise program with anabolic hormones. Proper hormonal secretion depends highly on having a proper sleep cycle. Hormones like Testosterone and the Growth Hormone are highly associated with proper sleep and play a big role in muscle recovery.
My approach for getting quality sleep is to always get in bed early and stay there for at least eight hours. There are periods when I do not actually sleep many of those hours, however I still make it a habit to always rest during that time span.
In the winter when there is less light I go to bed around 10:00 p.m., read for about half an hour and sleep (or lay there) until at least 6:30 a.m. If you have trouble sleeping early, reading in bed is the best solution I have found to solve this problem. The second best is 15-20 minutes of mindfulness meditation prior to nap time.
Never eat a big heavy meal prior to going to bed unless you like nightmares and restless sleep. If you eat dinner late at night, either make sure you eat a moderate-small portion of food, or if you eat a big meal like me, do it at least three hours before.
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