This is a topic I have been meaning to write about for a while but obviously I got sidetracked with moves and what not. It was something which unfortunately I didn’t head off at the pass and two separate conversations in the last week convinced me to get it done, so here it is…
When it comes to training, measuring progress can be a difficult thing to do – especially when peoples goals are constantly changing. What we thought was impossible 6 months or a year ago is standard practice to our present-day selves and once again we find ourselves looking ahead towards loftier heights. That’s human nature.
It is also human nature to look at our peers, see what they are doing and try and do better.
I can’t remember how this all panned out pre-internet era but these days its impossible not to see how amazing everyone else is doing. In this day and age with youtube, facebook, vimeo etc. we can keep track of everyone and if we don’t want to keep track, it normally gets thrown in our face anyway. It can get overwhelming. More than ever we are comparing ourselves against our friends (and foes) and that’s a worrying trend in my opinion.
If there’s one thing martial arts taught me is that there is ALWAYS someone bigger and badder and capable of kicking your ass out there. No matter how good you are.
I am a competitive so-and-so. Up until lately I would have a hard time admitting ANYONE is better than me at any given task. It was really quite ridiculous if I am being honest.
I’ve had a pretty humbling year training wise. We all have something we are good at and use as a yardstick to compare ourselves or be significant in our own eyes and what we think, in the eyes of others. I am most proud of my physical achievements. They are my yardstick. I don’t know if it is because I am 30 and am mellowing (slightly) but I am finding myself, not so much not competing against others but happy to let others fly their accomplishments high and in many cases think or say ‘damn, that’s impressive’, not ‘he only did that because’, or ‘I could do that if …..’
Its actually quite liberating. I have been hearing the whole ‘check your ego at the door‘ mantra for as long as I can remember but it’s only really sinking in now. Really, the best gains are made when people are willing to do this, to be totally honest with themselves and make an intelligent plan to move towards their realistic targets.
There are times when comparisons can be healthy, at least to let you know you are going in the right direction. For example, recently one of the girls in the class was telling me she was looking at a website of an old gym she trained at and how she was looking at videos and now being able to accomplish greater physical tasks herself than what she thought, at one stage, would have been impossible. I was proud for her. In her eyes she probably didn’t think she was making much progress until she saw that.
This is where I would strongly recommend – to the point of nearly making it compulsory – if you are serious about your training, you NEED to keep a training journal. I have had people come to me recently getting frustrated with a perceived lack of progress – they are comparing their current achievements to people that have been training significantly longer. When I point out the progress they have made, it dawns on them about how well they have actually done. A training journal really helps keep things in perspective and avoid getting frustrated over nothing. At the end of the day you really are only competing against yourself.
There is a simple formula – be better than yesterday. Follow that and you can’t go wrong.
It’s good to be inspired and see people you can relate to doing extraordinary things and congratulating them and then striving to do the same. There’s nothing wrong with that. It becomes wrong when you obsess about it and it becomes a stress and a burden that ultimately derails your training. Remember guys, this is also meant to be fun…
Now, I’m off to work towards 11 reps of 100kg Overhead Squats…..
I’m resurrecting an old article from the Combat Workshop Site but one worth looking back over as it will be a lot more relevant to you guys these days as your work capacity and output has increased significantly since this post was originally published …
If you are training frequently, at a high level , working a full time job, not getting enough sleep, stressed out, experiencing aches and pains, a drop in energy levels chances are high you are on the fast train to burn out city and the chances are also high that you aren’t working on your recovery. That’s right, I said working. You see recovery like most things in life doesn’t happen by accident. It’s also a relative curve, the more you are working on your training, the more you need to be working on your recovery.
Lack of recovery usually leads to over training which in turn leads to prolonged periods of sub-par performance and nasty injuries and the higher the level you train or compete at, the longer it can take to recover from.
You need to be treating recovery with the same respect you treat your workouts. Adaptation to your workouts (getting stronger / fitter) only happens during recovery. It’s when all the good things happen.
So what’s the best way to work towards relaxing?
Glad you asked, here are some of my favourites. Now I could spend a lot of time on the ‘ins and outs’ of it, but I know how impatient and keen you guys are to get on this so I will get straight to the point and if I’ve missed anything, run it by me in the gym or email me.
For me this is the Daddy. If you’re not getting at least 8 hours a night, stop reading, go to bed. Seriously. Once you hit that magic number come back and see what the next step is towards the recovered promised land.
If you still need convincing on sleep, here goes … many beneficial hormonal responses happen while you’re catching those Z’s. Testosterone levels and growth hormone levels are elevated during sleep and this assists in repairing and rebuilding muscle and connective tissues which means less aches and pains and also strength and fitness gains. At the very least, a good night’s sleep resets your body back to a state or readiness. The old wives tale of ‘every hour before midnight is worth two after’ is still a very good bit of advice – ‘physical recovery’ happens between 10 – 2am.
As with fish oil supplementation, eating the right foods will have your body in an anti-inflammatory state, this again means less aches and pains. Eat a recovery meal ideally within 30mins of working out. Protein is hugely important to help rebuild and remodel damaged muscle tissue. Carbohydrates will also replace muscle and liver glycogen stores.
Fish Oil supplementation
I have mentioned it above but I feel it needs a small paragraph of it’s own. One of the many benefits of fish oils are their anti-inflammatory properties. Dosages depend on numerous life style factors but to get an idea of how much you need, check out this fish oil calculator.
At the same time it is worth noting that I am not 100% sold on the recommendations where fighters are concerned. I have found that although higher dosages of fish oils definitely improved my recovery from hard sessions, it also makes me bleed easier – not good if you are going to be competing in MMA or if you’re one of those people that just like playing with knives.
Again, this should fall under the nutrition umbrella but it is something that should be highlighted as it often gets overlooked. You should be looking to raise water intake prior to training, even days in advance. Drinking on your rest days will also help flush toxins out of the muscles and keep them supple.
Spending a bit of time going over static stretches post training helps recovery in that it improves muscle elasticity, removes waste products by increasing blood flow to the muscles, reduces muscular tension and soreness.
Self Myofascial release
A fancy way of saying foam rolling, definitely one for the pain junkies out there. Training frequently and at high intensities will overtime cause soft tissue adhesion (knots) which will cause muscles to shorten in length and function sub optimally. Rolling basically kneads out these knots and helps restore muscle function and length.
There are many contrasting (sorry, I couldn’t resist) recommendations regarding how to do this. I have found, 30 seconds to a minute in cold and double that in warm is a decent guideline. The contrasting of hot and cold, increases and decreases the flow of blood to the muscles and helps remove metabolites – the stuff that causes all the aches and pains and also stimulates the nervous system.
I have also found for lower limb soreness a shallow cold bath prior to a warm shower is very effective in alleviating muscle soreness. Candles and lavender oil are optional.
I’m sure some people will find this a little suspect and point out that any studies done to show the effectiveness of such equipment or either limited or probably heavily funded by the manufacturers of said clothing companies but I am hearing more and more positive things regarding compression clothing and have found them useful in my own recovery.
So that’s my recovery check list. One builds on the next, if your sleep or nutrition isn’t dialed in, work on that first instead of investing time in the smaller details, you’ll get greater returns.
It is also an idea to try out some easy training days or active recovery days after a hard training day, things such as swimming, jogging, stretching or mobility work.
I hope you have found some of these suggestions useful and even more importantly I hope you try and put them into practice. An apple or banana post training doesn’t cut it. Done properly, a sound recovery plan will improve your ability to adapt to your sessions (greater fitness and strength gains), have you ready to attack your next session, avoid injury or burn out, help keep you away from the dreaded plateau, who doesn’t want that??
So here is our second stand in coach – Conor, who will be taking the class on Wednesday (7-8). Expect it to be a strength session!
A1. Shoulder Press 3 x 5 (no rest)
A2. Band Pull Aparts 3 x 12 – 15 (3mins rest)
6 rounds of:
5 Dumbell Hang Squat Cleans
10 Clapping Pushups
Muscle Snatch & Power Snatch
A. Power Snatch 3 x 3 (2-3mins rest)
B. Front Squat 3 x 5 – sub max (85% approx)
C1. Barbell Row 3 x 10 (no rest)
C2. Box Jump 3 x 10 (no rest)
D. Plank (to failure or 3mins)
Ok folks, quick announcement, it’s not as last minute as I’d like but it’ll have to do …
As you know I’m gone until the 6th of September, soaking up the knowledge (and sunlight) in Arizona at the OPT modules. Thankfully I have two quality coaches that will step in and provide a nice contrast from my never ending sarcasm and quality ipod playlists.
First in on the action is Colin, whom some of you met last Tuesday. Colin is a great coach and specialises in Kettlebell training, although saying this does him a disservice as he knows plenty about other training modalities.
Colin will be taking the GPP classes on Tuesday 30th and Thursday 1st at 7 – 8. I know it’s only two classes but I am fully expecting to see the best looking kettlebell swings I have ever seen when I get back – no pressure…
I’ll announce the second stand in coach, who will be taking the Wednesday class, tomorrow!