How can I track and optimize my recovery?
We all know that recovery is important to our training success. Understanding your own recovery will help you make informed decisions about your training. But what should you be looking for? How do you know when you might need a little more rest?
Recovery needs to be constantly monitored using a series of indicators that will show trends in increasing or declining performance.
Below are 8 Indicators that can be Monitored Daily
Resting Heart Rate
In times of distress (Flight or fight) the heart rate will elevate, this may be a sign of sympathetic overtraining. A decreased heart rate may indicate parasympathetic “rest and digest” stress, which brings the body back to homeostasis.
Resting heart rate can be measured by taking the pulse on your wrist or neck and counting the number of beats in 60 seconds. The most accurate time will be before getting out of bed (from a decent night’s sleep). Following 3 weeks of data, a change +/- 5% can be considered a negative response associated with fatigue or stress.
Drastic changes in body weight can have negative effects on performance and cognitive functionality. Weight can fluctuate because of loss or gain in body fat, muscle mass, and/or insufficient hydration or nutrition. Monitoring weight will provide feedback on daily energy and hydration needs. A loss of body weight of greater than 2% is considered a negative response, and can negatively impact recovery and performance.
Sleep quantity and sleep quality are important markers to track in relation to performance. Sleep affects growth hormone and testosterone production and release; the immune system; and muscle repair, all of which can affect performance. It has been suggested that eight hours of sleep each night should be the target, and a good marker to set when tracking sleep quantity. While in a deep sleep, more oxygen, growth hormones, and nutrients are delivered to muscles which will aid in better recovery. Measuring sleep quality can be as simple as: Did you wake up during the night? were you tossing and turning? Were you restless? There are also many apps you can download to help track sleep quality.
When the sympathetic nervous system is triggered due to stress such as increased training volume or intensity, appetite will decrease. This will negatively affect energy balance, hydration, and performance. Proper consumption of macronutrients and micronutrients will affect recovery, performance, immune system, and hormonal balance. This marker will also be directly related to body weight changes.
The effectiveness of a training program can be tied to the principle of overload. Challenging the body differently in each training session with adjustments in movement, volume, and intensity to produce a positive training response. These variables if applied properly will damage muscle fibers and result in soreness. Persistent or severe soreness can indicate the need for further recovery.
Many of the above markers can be affected by mood. Work, family, relationships, finances can be very stressful and we see mood swings, depression, and anxiety very often in today’s population. These stressful states will have a negative effect on training and are worth monitoring throughout a given day.
Everything you’ve read about “sweating it out” may not be the best solution to recovering when feeling under the weather. When a feeling of headaches, nausea, gastrointestinal discomfort, coughing, or sore throats are present; high-intensity training can exacerbate the symptoms, and is recommended to not partake in training until recovered.
Previous Training Day
Effective training programs should lead to progress. If training is leading to a drop in results it may be indicative of decreased recovery status. Everyone will have a bad day here and there, but a trend of poor performances in training is a clear sign that further recovery may be needed.
Tracking these markers over days, weeks and months will provide you with a snapshot of how effective your recovery is. Using a rating scale of 1-5 is an effective and easy approach. After a few weeks of data, follow these guidelines.
1)80-100% positive trending responses is a green light to continue your training and recovery processes and potentially even increase volume or intensity
2)60-80% positive trending responses, you should continue training, but with caution. Potentially lower training volume and intensity or plan another rest day
3)Less than 50% positive trending responses are an indication to stop your training program and prioritize your recovery method and strategies.
In our BODZii Nutrition and Lifestyle program, recovery plays a major role in our prescription. The templates we provide to members include an interactive table and chart to map out your recovery markers week to week. These markers assist your coach in determining nutritional or lifestyle adjustments to help reach your goal.