01 Aug Rest, Restore, Rebuild for Better Performance
Note from Zach: I can’t thank Melissa Murphy enough for writing on this topic, some of the most under-valued aspects of performing optimally. Melissa’s help has been instrumental in helping me get my health and performance on track. These tips on how to rest, restore, and rebuild will be game changers if you implement them!
CrossFit was designed as a model for healthy living and supplement to sports performance, but for many has become the competitive Sport of Fitness. As a result, there has become a drive to excel, requiring intensity and volume to be increased. Yet, the knowledge and prioritizing of recovery has not paralleled these changes, as evidenced by the high rate of injuries.
If you are frustrated that months have passed and you haven’t reached your goals, you are not sleeping well, constantly stay exhausted, or never get off the injured list, your body may be telling you it desperately needs recovery to be part of the regimen.
I tell all the athletes I coach, “you are only as good as your recovery”. What does this mean? Recovery is where the magic happens as growth and adaptation to a training stimulus occur (i.e. bigger muscles). However, the body is designed to prioritize healing over growth. If the body is in a chronic state of inflammation from too much high intensity exercise, too little sleep, stress, poor dieting, etc., one can say goodbye to achieving fitness goals. You will not put on muscle, get stronger or faster if your body is fighting the initial stages of disease: inflammation. Healing will be the primary focus of the body, not growth.
So when thinking about recovery, think: Rest, Restore, Rebuild.
Sleep: Your body and brain recovers during sleep
Goal: Consistency & Quality
A few tips:
- Develop a consistent pattern of sleeping and waking (even on the weekends, I wake up within one hour of my normal weekday work time)
- Forgo technology and screen time at least 1 hour before bed
- De-clutter your mind by writing out mental notes/thoughts or talking to someone in the evening before bed
- Go to bed before midnight (Tennis Champion Serena Williams is in bed most nights by 7pm)
Stressors can happen daily according the American Institute of Stress, 1 in 5 Americans live extremely stressed. Our culture has adopted stress as a norm, which has increased rates of disease and for athletes, will stunt development.
Goal: Create a Game Plan: What Will You Do To Manage Daily Stressors?
- Identify what is in Your Control
Take breaks from constant multitasking and “noise” (social media is a main culprit)
- Decide what is most important to you and keep this in focus
- Prioritize Your Responsibilities
- Choose What You Will Dwell On/Think About
Getting the focus off of myself by serving others and prayer helps me the most.
Recovery workouts: (30-50min “Get Sweaty Session”)
Goal: Complete at least 1 weekly
Aerobic training sessions increase blood flow, oxygen delivery and enzyme activity to promote healing and muscle growth. Your pace should allow you the ability to talk to a friend throughout the entire session.
Here is how I plan a Get Sweaty Session:
- Choose 1-2 low-impact cardio exercises (bear crawls and sled drags are my favorite)
- Choose 1-2 core exercises (oblique exercises are great as CrossFit training misses these vital movements)
- Choose a technique drill: something that will help you with your CrossFit “goat”- a skill you want to master (Double under, muscle up, handstand walk drills)
Goal: Learn a few mobility drills & implement for a minimum of 5 min. daily
Mobility exercises support recovery by reducing soreness, muscle fatigue and bring vital nutrients to the muscles via increased circulation.
I focus on a different joint (hips, back, shoulders) daily and spend 5 min. either first thing in the morning, after workouts, or before I go to bed.
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Hip Mobility Exercises: 1) 10 circles clockwise then 10 counterclockwise wise 2) 10 knee to chest pulls 3) 10-20 deep lunge push outs each leg . . . Great for low back pain, tight hips- easy to do at home and will improve your range of motion if you spend a minimum of 5 min. daily consistently #mobility #flexibilitytraining #hipmobility
Goal: Focus on Nutrient, Vitamin & Mineral Adequacy
Exercise depletes nutrient stores through sweat and muscle breakdown. Therefore it is imperative to have an adequate nutrient status to support exercise and growth.
Carbohydrates, Fats, Proteins, Water, Vitamins & Minerals are all important. Choose non-processed, biologically active sources (high in vitamins and minerals), but be careful not to be restrictive (i.e. carbs are BAD). If you are curious how you match up with the Daily Recommended Allowances (RDA), you can track your food intake for a week on www.Supertracker.usda.gov
A few tips:
Protein: Consume within 1 hour of finishing a workout (1.6-1.8 kcal/kg of body weight for individuals engaging in high intensity exercise 3+ times/weekly
Increase Magnesium-Rich Foods: vital in muscle contraction, heart rhythm, oxygen delivery, protein synthesis and nerve impulses. There has been evidence of improved cardiorespiratory function & strength in healthy individuals and athletes who meet the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of magnesium.
400mg daily for men ~ 300mg daily minimum for women
Almonds (1 oz. = 23pieces, 76mg) + 1 banana (32mg) + ½ cup cooked spinach (78mg) + ½ cup chopped kale (16mg) + 5 dried figs (25mg) + ½ avocado (24mg) + pumpkin seeds (1 oz., 150mg) + ½ cup brown rice (23mg) = 424 mg
- Avoid whey & soy: They are both inflammatory and soy resembles estrogen in the body. If you are a protein shake junky like myself, choose a pea or hemp seed protein.
- Limit dairy and sugar: These also increase inflammation in the body. To meet calcium requirements, look to green vegetables such as broccoli, kale and spinach, salmon or fortified almond or coconut milk.
- Moderate Alcohol Consumption: Yes, alcohol is toxic, strains the liver, does not have calories that can be used for energy (i.e. they get stored as fat), can thwart sleep patterns and increases inflammation – I have officially rained on the parade.
- Supplements are NOT the answer: Focus on meeting your needs through food in order to prevent toxicity in the body tissues from the inability for cells to fully absorb and utilize supplemental forms of vitamins and minerals.
Ultimately, a main separator between good athletes and successful athletes is the ability to recover. What is one easy recovery goal you can set for the next 3 weeks you KNOW you will be able to achieve? Remember, you are only as good as your recovery.
USAW-Sports Performance Coach,
CrossFit Level I, CrossFit Mobility
Human Nutrition Graduate Student, Winthrop University
Strength Coach, Winthrop University Athletic Department
Coach, Rising CrossFit Ballantyne