The best training system will be one that allows you to train with the most intensity and frequency that you can optimally recover from. You can improve the adaptive response to training by improving the quality of your training and/or optimising your training recovery between sessions. But how is this best achieved? This is a delicate balancing act as training efficacy and recovery are interrelated. Training recovery is affected by various physical and psychological factors some of which are directly under your control and some which are not.
The “Principles Of Adaptation” article on this site goes some way toward addressing the optimisation of training methods. Optimising training recovery however is the single most important factor in training outcome success and this cannot be overstated. It is often the limiting factor to progress and is the primary reason why chemically enhanced athletes are able to train more intensely and make greater progress than natural ones.
Sleep is the most important aspect of training recovery sinse this is when the adaptive processes occur. Most trainees will require a minimum of 6 to 8 hours of quality sleep per night. Sleep quality can be improved in a number of ways. Ideally you should follow your natural circadian rhythms by retiring to bed by 10pm to 11pm latest and arising during daylight hours. Additionally you should ideally retire and arise at the same time each day.
White and blue light emissions should be avoided just prior to retiring as these will inhibit your ability to fall asleep quickly. The Pineal gland in the brain which regulates circadian rythms requires a signal of reduced light intensity and increasing darkness to induce melatonin secretion in order to promote sleep. Constant bright white or blue light from TV, Tablets, etc confuse the Pineal gland, disrupt the brains feedback mechanism and derail sleep. Ensure that you sleep in complete darkness and ensure electrical and light emitting devices are switched of or removed. You should ideally wake naturally without the sleep disturbing effect of an alarm. Avoid strenuous exercise too close to bedtime, especially that which ramps up your metabolism post exercise as this will also inhibit your ability to fall asleep quickly. “Overtraining” itself will inhibit sleep significantly and is one of its side effects. Overtraining is generally caused by employing excessive training volume.
Stress levels can disrupt sleep significantly, and reducing the negative effects of stress has multiple health benefits. These warrant an article by themselves but suffice it to say that stress is the rust of life, and much of its original physical function as a survival mechanism is irrelevant in today’s world.
Do what you can to resolve a problem and then let it go. Trust in life and believe that all will work out positively. If you focus on the negative then that is what you will unconsciously manifest in your life, don’t dwell on the past or what could go wrong in the future instead try to stay in the present. I recommend Eckhart Tolles’ book “The power of the now”. Meditation is also very effective as it improves sleep, firstly by reducing stress. As previously stated, stress hinders deep sleep and prevents people from drifting off to sleep and is often the root cause of insomnia. Secondly, meditation puts you in a similar state to when you are asleep, thus makes the process of falling asleep much smoother.
Post exercise nutrition
It is advisable to ingest a protein shake after workout – some studies have found that delaying nutrient (protein and carbohydrate) consumption post workout can reduce the rate of glycogen restoration and protein synthesis. So If you wait too long after a workout to ingest a mix of fast absorbing proteins and high glycemic carbohydrates, the amount of muscle attained in response to the workout may be significantly decreased. Protein supplements containing additional BCAAs (branch chain amino acids) are recommended and have been shown to increase protein synthesis.
Magnesium is involved in over 300 chemical reactions in the body and is a very important mineral for athletes. Often referred to as the master mineral it is a substance many in the population are deficient in. Magnesium is present in a number of foods and it is recommended that it is taken as a supplement to ensure adequate intake. It is probably best ingested in its chelated form but can also be absorbed through the skin, for example as magnesium sulphate (epsom salts). Among other things, magnesium helps with muscle relaxation and testosterone production and it will improve sleep quality also. Magnesium sulphate increases blood flow to the muscles and helps reduce inflammation processes. As a result bathing in epsom salts can greatly increase the rate of recovery after intense training. Additionally, they reduce muscle and joint pains associated with an excessive inflammatory response.
Training progress in strength and muscle size is dependent on the amount of stimulation placed on your body and on the body’s capacity to recover and adapt to that stimulation. By optimising training recovery you will be able to train more frequently and with greater intensity without compromising recuperation. This will increase your rate of progress.
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