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Recovery vs Rest

By Marcus | In Recovery | on May 17, 2012

Whole9 just ran an article that I think you should take the time to read today. While I will quote some segments in this post, you really owe it to your betterment as an athlete to go check it out. Many of you choose to skip the skills day since “it’s not hard enough” and chalk it up as a rest day. However, could you be doing better? Whole9 defines rest as “the absence of effort or movement—the absence of exertion”, while recovery is a “restorative process”.

Rest vs. Recovery

These two words, “rest” and “recovery,” have distinctly different meanings when applied to health, fitness or athletic contexts. Recovery can encompass many different behaviors and strategies, but it is fundamentally different than just resting.

Everyone in the gym is subjecting themselves to a level of stress (we call these workouts) in addition to other stressors they have in their day-to-day life. How much is too much? Well Whole9 gives a few examples:

A “stressor” isn’t necessarily a bad thing – but the application of that stressor in that dose in a context already saturated with a high stress load may be detrimental to your health.* If you’re a parent with an infant (and thus some degree of sleep deprivation/disturbance), a busy job, and some financial stress, do you think the net effect of getting out of bed at 5:00 AM five days a week to do high-intensity exercise is positive? Likely not. (If we just described your life, please… just stay in bed.)

*This is one of the reasons why we rarely recommend intermittent fasting to our consulting clients. Unsurprisingly, most of them are on the “too much” side of the stress scale, rating their daily stress at an average of 8 out of 10. These folks don’t have any “reserve” left to offset an additional stressor, which means adding IF on to their current health equation would do them more harm than good. IF may be a perfectly appropriate tool for other folks with different contexts, but it’s not for everyone.

Personally, I didn’t recommend IF much to people in the past because so many struggled to get the basics of paleo down. In my opinion, if a person can’t improve and control their food quality in the absence of weighing-and-measuring, putting them on a restrictive feeding schedule is likely to torpedo their health, quickly. Whole9’s point of it being an added stress is a worthwhile item to consider.

Thankfully, Whole9 also gives us some warning signs to look for if we might be running on empty. I can personally relate to some and know I’ve had members come to me mentioning other items from this list:

Are you Under-Recovered? Here are a few things to look for:

  1. You used to be excited about going to the gym – not so much anymore.
  2. Your performance (or lack thereof) is seriously stressing you out , and a poor workout ruins your day.
  3. You’ve got chronic muscle soreness after every workout, and/or that lingering “shoulder thing” that just won’t seem to heal.
  4. Your sleep pattern has become irregular.
  5. Even though you’re in bed for enough hours, you never feel well-rested in the morning.
  6. You need a Monster drink or three espressos to get fired up for your training sessions.
  7. You crave carbohydrates (sugar!) more than you used to.
  8. You’re getting sick a lot, or just can’t seem to kick that cold you picked up.
  9. You’re training hard and “eating right” but that little belly just isn’t going away.
  10. You’re actually gaining fat, instead of losing it.

Any of this resonate with you?

Again, I don’t want to (fully) plagiarize the good work of Dallas and Melissa over at Whole9, so I purposely am going to skip their recommended “fixes” for what ails you. For that, you’ll have to take a peek at their full article.  (Hint: it’s not just “rest”.) Please post to comments if you think you may need to make some changes. What will YOU be doing with your Thursdays (or Sundays, for that matter)?


WOD 05.17.12

Skills Day

One Comment to "Recovery vs Rest"

  • Kara says:

    May 17, 2012 at 6:13 AM -

    Holley, you look like a bad ass in this pic!! So excited to see you guys next week :)

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