Recovery and Regeneration are the limiting factors to much of our training prescriptions. I know with more control over the athletes’ recovery and down time, the better quality and quantity of training I can prescribe. When our NBA and NFL athletes are here for combine preparation we greatly influence their rest, nutrition, supplementation, recovery and regeneration as well as their training programs. This allows us to prescribe programs of great volume that include intense quality movements and exercises.
Sleep is a critical part of recovery. Most athletes need 7 – 9 hours of sleep every night beginning and ending at about the same times. Too much sleep, too little sleep or long naps can inhibit the bodies ability to adapt to the stresses of training. Deep sleep will encourage the release of hormones for recovery of muscles, tendons and ligaments as well as the immune system. Lighter sleep stages will help to reinforce neural patterns stimulated during training sessions. Drugs, alcohol, environmental changes, delayed bed times and illness can all disrupt normal sleeping patterns and recovery.
General Post Training Strategies
Ten to fifteen minutes in a swimming pool of movement consisting of large general movements of the body can relax, refresh and speed the process of recovery. A
3 – 4 minute hot tub alternated with a 30 – 60 second cold plunge repeated for three reps can greatly foster the recovery process. For relaxation, end with a warm environment which will encourage sleep. For recovery between training sessions, end with a cold bout. The cold tub should not exceed 10 degrees Celsius.
Specific Post Training Strategies
Metabolic fatigue – is volume related such as training for over an hour in length, multiple training sessions as well as the overall cumulative effect of fatigue and can be recovered by the use of re-hydration and refueling immediately after training and competition. Metabolic fatigue can be recognized by early onset of fatigue, normal training seems more difficult or the athlete struggles to complete the session.
Neural fatigue of the peripheral nervous system – is also volume related and caused by high intensity sessions or long low to moderate sessions of training and can be recovered by hydrotherapy, light active and static stretching as well as massage. Neural fatigue is expressed by low power output, heavy/slow feet and poor technique.
Neural fatigue of the central nervous system – is caused by low blood glucose levels brought on by high pressure training sessions involving rapid decisions and reactions or just training monotony. This type of neural fatigue is expressed by lack of motivation/passion and can be recovered by steady intake of carbohydrate during and after training, rest and alternative activities such as music, movies and video games.
Psychological fatigue – is caused by team conflict, competitive pressures or other outside stressors such as school and personal or social conflicts. This type of fatigue is expressed by loss of confidence and/or lowered self esteem; poor interaction and communication among team members; negative attitudes; increased anxiety and poor sleep patterns. This fatigue can be recovered by activities such as reading, movies, books, video games, etc.
Environmental and Travel fatigue – is caused by disruption of normal routines such as sleep patterns, meal timing, increased sitting or standing requirements, cultural changes, climatic differences and time change. This fatigue is usually expressed with longer warm-up needs and slower starts to the workout, increased unforced errors in early competition and earlier onset of fatigue. Recovery strategies for this type of fatigue include proper preparation and planning for training and travel: adequate hydration and refueling patterns; limiting climate stressors such as extreme heat or cold; minimize visual fatigue with sunglasses and limited computer time and minimizing hearing fatigue by wearing ear plugs on long flights and limiting loud music on mp3 players.
Post Training Recovery Schedule
Restore fluid and glycogen levels by drinking .6 –1 L of sports drink
Eat quality protein and low glycemic carbohydrate snack
Stretch lightly with active and short duration static (10 seconds or less)
Walk or jog lightly to assist lactate recovery
Check weight to gauge sweat loss
Listen to relaxing music
Continue to rehydrate and refuel
Shower and end with alternate hot/cold showers (30 seconds each) for 3 – 5 reps
Have a balanced meal of quality protein, low – moderate glycemic carbohydrate
Utilize a relaxation or music to unwind
Bath to relax
Long stretches and/or PNF
Self massage – foam roll
Prepare for bed
Incorporate visualization and/or relaxation techniques
If unable to sleep – get up – jot down the problem(s) or make a list
Monitor your body – respiration and heart rate as well as how you feel
Record in your training journal
I hope this article will help give you insight into the art of the application of the science of recovery and regeneration. It is easy to read but can be very difficult to put into practice. I would like to thank Angela Calder of the University of Canberra in Austrialia for much of the body of this article. She is an expert in the field of recovery and regeneration. For more information see www.ais.org.au or the reference for this article “Recovery and Regeneration” in FHS issue 22 from 2003.
Triangle Circuits is an excellent tool to use in order to build your circuit and control the volume of exercise that is prescribed. Steve Myrland (the inventor of the agility speed ladder) first introduced me to this training design concept. It is very simple in concept but can be very complex in the application. The first exercise (1) has the highest priority since it will be executed the most times during the circuit. The second exercise (2) has the second highest priority and so on. Below is a schematic drawing of this type of circuit design.
2) 1 2
3) 1 2 3
4) 1 2 3 4
5) 1 2 3 4 5
6) 1 2 3 4 5 6
7) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
This is an example of a 10 series circuit that builds up to 10 exercises or drills. It is easy to teach as the athlete builds one exercise/drill upon another, but always begins at the start which is always exercise/drill one. Exercise/drill one will get 10 sets, exercise/drill two will get 9 sets, exercise/drill three will get 8 sets, etc. So for instance if core is my main emphasis, followed by single leg strength, upper body pulling and pressing then the circuit with exercises/drills might look something like this.
2) Lateral Plank Hold
3) Prone Plank Hold
4) Lateral Lunge Squat
5) Inverted Pull – Ups
6) Single Leg Balance Squat
7) Push – Ups on Medballs
8) Alternate Step – Ups w/a weight vest
9) Alternate Tubing Pulls with Feet Staggered
10) Alternate Tubing Punches with Feet Staggered
This type of circuit can be time driven or rep driven in order to control either the total time of the workout or in order to increase the quality of the repetitions. I have found that time creates a sloppiness in reps but can also increase the mental stress of the work bout as the athlete does not know exactly how many reps are left to execute. If it is timedriven, I have an excellent chart in my “Power Conditioning Handbook” that details exactly how long any timed circuit will take in order to complete. An example from this table is below.
Number/Exercises Work Bout Recovery/Exercises Recovery/Sets
2 sets 3 sets 4 sets
4 :15 :30 2:00 7:00 11:30 16:00
6 :15 :30 2:00 11:20 18:00 24:40
8 :15 :30 2:00 13:00 20:30 28:00
10 :15 :30 2:00 16:00 25:00 34:00
4 :30 :30 2:00 9:00 14:30 20:00
6 :30 :30 2:00 13:00 20:30 28:00
8 :30 :30 2:00 17:00 26:30 36:00
10 :30 :30 2:00 21:00 32:30 44:00
4 :45 :45 3:00 13:30 21:45 30:00
6 :45 :45 3:00 19:30 30:45 42:00
8 :45 :45 3:00 25:30 39:45 54:00
10 :45 :45 3:00 31:30 48:45 66:00
This chart is designed to be utilized in conjunction with the old style straight circuits that we are all used to using. In order to construct a triangle chart, it would need to look something like this:
Time :15 on and :15 off
Time :30 on and :30 off
Number of Total
Time 1:00 on and 1:00 off
Here is another tool to use in order to develop and implement workouts for your clients.
A special thank you is in order to Steve Myrland for sharing his expertise with me concerning the development of this topic.