Part 1 of this series explored ways to choose new disciplines to add to your current training. Part 2 of this series addressed making a plan to help ensure your success in your new endeavors.
We’ll begin Part 3 with general recovery.
Different activities and training have different recovery periods. If you’re intuitive, you can figure out what types of training take longer to recover from and which ones you can do more frequently. But some of you need to do your homework, and that’s part of your planning. This is your canvas to paint, no one else’s.
But there are a few general rules that can apply to almost everything. I’ll use my examples again to make sense of these rules. If I focus on the technique and efficiency of my punching for Muay Thai for four weeks but also need to increase the intensity of my squatting to compete in powerlifting, I will squat 1-2 times and also, shadow box in a mirror 3-4 times per week.
The shadow boxing is strictly technique of movement with no impact and little muscular stress, so the period you need to recover from each bout of exposure is minimal.
Heavy squats, on the other hand, or any substantial strength training at 85% or above of a 1 RM needs a much more extended period of recovery. This is the reason why you could only do this once, maybe twice a week, depending on your qualification as a lifter and what phase of training it is.
Let’s use a different example to explain this rule. Say your goal is to be or remain a competitive powerlifter and also be able to run long distances. Now, let’s take the extreme and say you’d like to be able to compete in powerlifting in one month and then run a 5k a couple of months later.
You’d have to train for these sports simultaneously and so you’d need to find a way to arrange the training for both in a way where you could recover from each independently and also from the combined overall total stress.
The typical idea would be to do the most taxing training in each practice on separate days to perform your best in each of them. So you may do a faster pace run or even sprints at the beginning of the week and then do heavy squats two or three days later. This would seem to
make sense, but if you look at training from a broader perspective, it’s counterproductive as a whole.
The individual training sessions may feel better for a week, maybe two, but over time total fatigue will increase so much that both types of training will be far less productive and your capacity for each will decrease. This is because you’re not giving yourself a chance to recover.
At the exact point where you physiologically bounce back from the stress of the fast run, you put equal or more significant pressure on the lower body and trunk through heavy squatting and so never get a chance to adapt and increase from your baseline.
If you instead group the two most neurologically and muscularly stressful pieces of training on the same day, you will have much longer to recover and adapt before doing them again. Yes, the individual day may seem less effective and the training for that day may seem blunted, but we aren’t training just for that day, we’re training for the goal of better performance in both, and this will give us a chance to balance the stress and training to increase ability and performance in each.
Layer For Recovery
If you want to create a training schedule where you are powerlifting four times a week and train for your 5k three times a week, it could look something like this:
|Training Schedule for Powerlifting/5K Run|
|DAY 1||Bench Focused Day / Slow and Light Run|
|DAY 3||Heavy Squat or Deadlift Day / Sprints / Intervals / Tempo|
|DAY 4||Bench Focused Day|
|DAY 5||Long Distance Slow Run|
|DAY 6||Heavy Squat or Deadlift Day|
When we look at organizing the month for most favorable recovery, we could also choose a similar physiological goal in each practice to emphasize. Given this same example, if you’re racking up miles to increase your capacity for the 5K within a given month, you don’t want to be in a hypertrophy/volume block in your powerlifting training.
You’d want to keep the volume lower in more of strength block. Balance the competing stresses throughout the month to increase the performance.
Express All You Can Do
Fitness practices become religions. Converts will join a congregation that suits their temperament or imitates the image they want to put out, and they’ll act, dress, talk, and eat like the assembly. They’ll avoid listening to opinions other than the doctrine of their particular brand of strength and fitness.
While part of the sport or hobby may be part of you, it’s probably not the whole of you. And in denying your exploration into other expressive forms of movement and practices, you deny your unique individuality.
You express who you are in what you do, and you can’t possibly know who you are, complicated as you are until you show all that you can do. If you choose to practice one thing or many things, it makes no difference. But it has to be uniquely you.
It has to be your movement—and it may not be one thing, but maybe many things that equal the one that is uniquely you. Your movement isn’t mine and mine isn’t yours. You find yours, and I’ll do the same.
Jesse competes in the sport of Olympic weightlifting and he was also formerly a competitive powerlifter. He has been featured in main strength and fitness publications. You can read more from him on his website.