Forced Recovery

I train everyday. At least I aim to. Today was an example of why  I aim to do this and don’t plan in a rest day. In theory today was what I call a “forced rest day”.

My day started the same as any other day at 5am with a shower, an espresso, followed by a pitch black freezing cold dog walk until 6am. I had an early meeting today over 70miles away so I was on the road by 6.30 and between visiting a client and visiting the office I was in the car for 6 hours not returning home until after 6pm.

That’s when I crashed! Crashed on to my bed (not my car) I had all the intention in the world to swiftly hit the gym in 30 minutes time but instead mid clothes change, I collapsed onto my bed and didn’t wake until an hour later missing my gym session and feeling pretty upset about it.

But this is when I realise that there are days you need to rest and today was one of them. Over the years I have found resting when my body forces me to do so a much more effective approach than strategically planning rest days when I don’t even know if my body needs it. This way I manage more training sessions in a week with out wasting a recovery day when I don’t need it.

Everyone is different and some body’s will thrive off regular rest planned into the week, If your like me, maybe you should assess how many rest days your taking and if the amount is optimum for you. Maybe you too could plan to have no rest days and take them when your body lets you know, or like me when you collapse into your duvet.

 

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Types of Flexibility and Benefits of Stretching

Flexibility it the ability to move muscles and joints  through their full range of motion.

M.J.Alter

Types of Flexibility 

  • Static Flexibility focus’ on the range of motion around a joint with out the emphasis of speed.
  • Ballistic Flexibility is incorporating rhythmic motion such as bobbing, bouncing and rebounding. Using this momentum to increase the range of motion forcibly.
  • Dynamic or Functional Flexibility is the ability to use the range of motion during a performance or physical activity. It includes no bouncing like ballistic flexibility but directly mimics the specific movements of an activity or sport. This type of flexibility generally has the highest correlation to sports performance.
  • Active Flexibility range of voluntary motion achieved without assistance.

Benefits of Stretching

  • Optimises the learning, practice and performance of a given movement.
  • Improves mental and physical relaxation
  • Develops body awareness and proprioception
  • Reduces the risk of injury of the joints and sprains of the muscle
  • Affective in reducing muscle soreness
  • Reduces muscle tension

Flexibility is likely the most overlooked part of any conditioning programme. However as the you get older and the likely hood of injury increases, it has to become an integral part of the regime.

Although there are benefits of including it in your exercise session especially if you train as a group. Some studies show that a flexibility regime that is completed outside of the training session, at home or in your own time has the most progressive benefits. Why not try to include stretching instead of TV, or use a break at work to do a stretching routine.

Just like any other program the routine should have a specific goal. This will then dictate the frequency of stretching, they type of stretching and the stretching exercises you would complete.

If your not from an athletic background the recommendation is that you stretch once per day 3-5 days per week. Stretches can either be held for 30seconds or by doing 3 sets of 10seconds.

As a general rule the longer, more frequent and more intense the stretch the faster you will improve. Before engaging in a stretch make sure you have completed a warm up or do the stretching at the end of a session.

The Importance of Warming Up

Warm up is essential to a good conditioning program and a good warm up is necessary even before starting a stretching program. The warm up should include exercises to increase circulation and heart rate. A warm up prepares you physically and mentally and adjust’s your body from rest to activity.

  • Benefits of warming up are:
    • Increase in body temperature
    • Increase in muscle blood flow
    • Increase in HR which prepares the Cardiovascular system
    • Increases the body’s energy release and exchange of oxygen
    • Increases the speed of which nerve impulses travel
    • Decreases muscle tension and connective tissue.
    • Prepares you mentally for exercise.

Every session should begin with a warm up an easy way to improve warm up compliance and remove the stress of deciding what to do is to routinely do the same warm up at the start of the session. This conditions the brain into knowing the start of the session is about to begin and the fact that you have done the warm up before means your mind can focus on the session you are about to do.

Idea’s for warming up:

  • A short 10-15 min set of the sport you are doing e.g swimming or cycling incorporating a steady aerobic set, a few short medium paced efforts and some short sharp sprints.
  • 10 mins skipping continuously with a change of pace as the body warms up
  • 10mins steady rowing or cycling with some higher cadence efforts of 10-15 seconds.
  • 10mins of Light running and bounding with some knee lifts and foot to bums and over strides.

The Laws of Strength Training

Develop Joint Flexibility

The entire range of motion of a joint is used during strength training. In order to minimise the risk of pain, strain and stress injuries building a good level of flexibility is a must. Ideally it is developed at a young age and then maintained throughout athletic development.

Develop Tendon Strength

Tendons and ligaments don’t increase in strength as quickly as the muscles. Tendons and ligaments will grow stronger through anatomical adaptation so the exercises need to specifically focus on this area of development.

Develop Core Strength

A weak trunk will limit improving strength in other areas such as the arms and legs. Building a strong core should be prioritised before progressing onto the arms and legs. Because of the supporting role of the trunk it is made up mostly of slow twitch fibres and that is why a strong core has muscle that contract constantly.

Develop the Stabilisers

Strong stabilisers are essential for efficient prime movers and if they are poorly developed they may hinder the movement of the prime movers and reducing athletic performance. The stabiliser muscles should be developed along side dynamic movement to ensure a well rounded strength program.

Train Movements not Individual Muscles

For Athletic performance you should avoid training isolated muscles like body building and focus on specific movements relevant to the sport or movement your participate in. Generally these tend to be multi joint movements. The best way to support this is to not focus on weight training alone but include other routines like medicine balls, bands, cords and plyometrics.

Fundamentals of Training

Individuality

Any training program must take into account the specific needs and abilities of the individual for whom it is designed. No two individuals will respond in the same way to a given programme.

Progressive Overload

Training must include overload and progression to be successful. Overload is to force the body to work harder than normal so the body adapts to this given workload. Progression is to increase this work load once those adaptations have occurred. The load should be increased gradually overtime to avoid any risk of injury

Specificity

What ever your goal is the supporting training programme must emphasise on that particular component to ensure the correct adaptations occur. e.g A rugby player trying to improve strength would not benefit from doing long aerobic runs.

Variance

Maximum benefits are obtained when a programme includes a variety of training methods.

Recovery

For a muscle or a muscle group to develop it must have adequate rest to recover and following a session or exercise.

Reversibility

If a Muscle, Muscle group or energy system is not given regular progressive stimuli, then the natural effect is to lose the adaption causing a de-training effect.

 

2 Day Split Strength Program

This workout is ideal for people who are short on time and can only make the gym 2x per week or for those that can make 4 sessions you get to work the entire body twice.

  • Warm up with 5-10min on the CV machines
  • Include a full body mobility warm up
  • Complete 3-4 Sets on each exercise
  • Strength Focus on 3-6 reps
  • Hypertrophy Focus on 8-12 Reps
  • Rest 1-2 Mins between Sets
  • Record your weight
  • Once reaching upper rep range, progress to a heavier weight.
  • Swap any exercise for an equivalent that works the same muscle group
  • Use free weights rather than machines where possible

Option One Push/Pull

Day 1 Push

Day 2 Pull

Bench Press

Deadlift

Front Squat

Pull Ups

Leg Extension

Preacher Curl

Front Delt Raises

Front Row

Tricep Dip

Upright Row

Shoulder Press

Straight Arm Flyes

Option Two Push/Pull

Day 1 Push

Day 2 Pull

Bench Press

Deadlift

Back Squat

Lat Pull Downs

Leg Extension

Hammer Curls

Front Delt Raises

Front Row

Tricep Extension

Seated Row

Military Press

Dumbbell Flyes

Option Three Upper/Lower

Day 1 Upper

Day 2 Lower

Bench Press

Front Squat

Front Delt Raises

Leg Extension

Tricep Dip

Deadlift

Shoulder Press

Leg Curl

Pull Ups

Calf Raises

Hammer Curls

Front Lunges

Upright Row

Kettle Bell Squat

Two Day splits can be schedules as:

  • 4 days a week (1 day rest, 2 days on, 2 days rest)
  • 2 on, 1 off
  • every other day
  • 3 days a week
  • 2 days per week

 

My Current Training Regime: November 2016

I talk a lot about having a purposeful training plan, preferably one that is progressive. I also talk about setting objects for each session and these are extremly important to help progress towards a goal. I normally have specific objectives for the year or the season normally focused on preparing for a race. I then break this big target into smaller targets periodically throughout the year.

At the moment I am having a small break from competing as I have recently become a father so my objectives have become less performance orientated and more around developing my weakness’ physically (Strength and Olympic lifting technique)

My current goal is:

To Increase my absolute strength in the gym by targeting progression in the main compound movements (specifically progression on 1RM) while improving my lifting technique.

While my shift in focus is to strength I still want to maintain my cardiovascular endurance to a level that I can run a fast-ish 5 and 10K (<20mins and <40mins) and comfortably complete a half marathon.(just incase I want to race)

My Current schedule is below which I am going to stick to until the end of the year:

Screen Shot 2016-11-23 at 22.30.59.png

Strength Training

The strength training session I complete in my lunch break so its only a 30min express workout and the run session in the morning is normally less than 45mins due to time. My Key sessions are Monday and Friday Cross fit and my longer sessions on the weekend.

My current strength program that I change or modify every 8-12 weeks, its is currently split into two days (push and pull) to cover every major muscle group. I chose push pull as I find splitting the session into Posterior and Anterior muscle groups means if I do two sessions in a row I don’t feel overworked.

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I can generally complete each session in 30-40 mins providing I take only 60secs between sets, and this also has the added benefit of keeping my HR high through out the session.

Endurance Training

It is generally not a good idea to try and increase strength in the gym and try to progress your endurance program, as this is likely to lead to burnout. My current endurance program is just focused on maintaining a base level of fitness, and having fun being active outside.

Mon/Wed/Thurs– Morning run’s are mostly in the dark at the moment and at a distance of 5-7Km dependant on time. I run at a steady pace of 60-70% Max HR and then increase the intensity to 80-85% for 60sec bursts randomly throughout the session, this is to elevate the HR and increase my running cadence, followed by an active recovery.

Saturday/Sunday– I use the weekend mornings to either do a medium length steady cycle. 1-1.5hrs (as its winter and not that nice on the roads) or a similar length Run (normally on the trails) again, there is less of a focus on this ride but generally I do the session continuous at about 60-70% of max HR and use the gradient/hills to increase my effort randomly throughout the session.

Although the endurance plan is not particular specific or progressive, it enables me to maintain a decent level of fitness during the off season, focus on my weakness’ (strength) and then when the start of the season comes closer (or I get a competitive goal) I am in a decent position to change my program and start focusing on developing my endurance further.

Rest Day’s- I don’t plan rest days as I have found that generally every week or two work or personal obligations will stop me training at least once that week, and sometimes I don’t feel I need a rest day. Obviously I track my progress closely so if i start to plateaux or my progress stops I evaluate to ensure its not an overtraining symptom. Because I mix up the type of training this also helps avoid over use injury and over training.

 

5 Incredible Tim Ferriss Podcasts Episodes on Fitness

Find below links to 5 Incredible Tim Ferriss Podcast Episodes on Fitness. I hope you get as much value out of them as I did.

  1. Tim Ferriss- Charles Poliquin Interview on Strength

2.Tim Ferriss- Pavel Tsatsouline Kettle Bell Training

3. Tim Ferriss- Christoper Sommer Interview Gymnastic Strength Training

4. Tim Ferriss-Dr Peter Attia interview All things Diet

5. Tim Ferriss- Arnold Schwarzenegger on psychological warefare

 

Comment below if you have any other recommendations

Bodyweight Only Crossfit WOD’s

Bodyweight Crossfit WODs/Workouts you can do with little to no equipment. Don’t be deceived they may look simple but these can the most brutal.

  • Angie
    • 100 Pull­ups
    • 100 Push­ups
    • 100 Sit­ups
    • 100 Squats
  • Barbara
    • 20 Pull­ups
    • 30 Push­ups
    • 40 Sit­ups
    • 50 Squats
    • (Either 5 rounds for time, or 5 rounds with rest between each round)
  • Chelsea
    • Each min on the minute for 30 minutes
    • 5 Pull­ups
    • 10 Push­ups
    • 15 Squats
  • Cindy
    • As many rounds as possible in 20 minutes
    • 5 Pull­ups
    • 10 Push­ups
    • 15 Squats
  • Mary
    • As many rounds as possible in 20 minutes
    • 5 Handstand push­ups
    • 10 1­legged squats
    • 15 Pull­ups
  • Nicole
    • As many rounds as possible in 20 minutes
    • Run 400m Max rep pullups
    • Note number of pullups each round.
  • Murph Run 
    • 1 mile
    • 100 pullups
    • 200 pushups
    • 300 squats Run 1 mile

What I’ve Learnt About Fitness

  1. Staying fit is a constant battle. If you ignore it for an instant it starts to regress therefore the only way to progress is to keep it part of your life every day.
  2. Consistency is king. The greatest progress I have made correlates to when I have been the most consistent. Also more consistent you are while staying injury free the more training becomes habitual and less of an effort to complete
  3. Progressive overload is paramount to success. The moment you feel adapted and comfortable it’s time to step up the intensity/volume or time and stretch your self to the next level.
  4. Recovery is not to be underestimated. Sometimes you can get away with not resting but sometimes resting is all you want to do. One thing I’ve learnt if you ignore recovery your body will make you recover somewhere down the line.
  5. If its not fun you won’t do it. If you don’t do it you wont progress. Simple as that.
  6. You can’t out train a poor diet. More so you can’t out train an average diet. Fill your car up with the wrong fuel and it will eventually break down. Do the same to your body and it will break down too.
  7. Don’t train for aesthetics alone. Focus on performance and aesthetics will follow. Aesthetics are a poor barometer of health. Look at the range of bodies seen on Olympic athletes and compare them to a fitness magazine cover model. Then ask yourself who is ‘fitter’?
  8.  Sleep is where you rebuild your body. When I was younger sleep didn’t feel important. Now if a session is followed by poor sleep it feels like a wasted session. Try to get 8 hrs of quality sleep a night, if you can’t get 8 hrs focus on the quality.
  9. Fitness is a rare commodity. Take pride in your health and stand out from the crowd. The rate the world is going fitness will likely be a rare asset to own and likely make you in demand.
  10. Don’t expect quick results. If you put all your energy into January then you’ll probably spend the rest of the year over trained or disengaged. Find a plan you can repeat 52 weeks a year and then build into that progression over time. You’re in it for the long run not for a new years resolution. Don’t be a ‘January Hero’.