The principle of overload states that a greater than normal stress or load on the body is required for training adaptation to take place. Thus, in order to become stronger, you have to “overload” your musculature system by exposing it to more stress than it normally would be accustomed to i.e. weight training is needed over daily activities in order to cultivate strength. The same goes for endurance athletes and the stress that they need to put on their cardiovascular system during training. Obviously oversimplified but this is the single principle that has influenced every single training plan since the godfather of modern fitness Jack LaLanne was lighting a fire under Americans’ asses in the 1940s. It all comes back to the principle of overload. Unfortunately, this is only half of the equation to becoming more fit. I wish it weren’t so, trust me. I love training. I love over training. I love the volume. Sadly, through years of training with reckless abandon, I have had to face the facts. You can’t get fitter on training alone. The other half of the fitness equation consists of recovery. If you work it right however, recovery can take on a practice of its own. A practice I have grown to love, one painstaking foam roll at a time.
Chances are that if you have spent time reading workout books or fitness magazines in the last decade, you have seen sample workout routines that consist of training days and rest days. Something like Chest/Triceps Monday | Legs Tuesday | Rest Wednesday | Shoulders/Biceps Thursday and so forth… What a load of garbage. As if just doing nothing on the days you aren't actively seeking overload is the best way to reach your goals. It’s 2017 people. Trigger point therapy, cryo, foam rolling, physical therapy, these are all things. And they all exist. And we know for sure that we need them. The conversation on what contributes to our fitness has evolved. Let's evolve with it, shall we?
At the very least, consider your goals within fitness. Lets use maximal strength as your goal for the sake of argument. The principle of overload will be expressed by maximum effort applied to maximum resistance. That effort + resistance is described as time under tension. Your whole goal is to log as much time under tension as possible at the highest percentage of resistance that you can handle in any given lift. With me so far? Ok, good. As you flirt back and forth with how much you can handle in a lift, you inevitably are going to cause trauma to that muscle. Your body over time, will adapt to that trauma and you, as a result, will be stronger and your mirror selfie will recruit more “likes”. This is the way of things. When you are not causing this trauma your goal should be to repair it, not to simply sit back and wait for your body to repair itself. Nothing good ever comes to those who wait. It is the go-getters that make out in this world. In this case, you need to go get your recovery so to speak. This is going to be done with Branch Chain Amino Acids. Not just a protein shake 30 minutes after your workout but consistent supplementation meant to aid repair. This is going to be done with trigger point therapy by massaging (in many cases painfully,) the sore areas or trigger points of the affected muscle and connective tissue allowing it to release tension and relax. You are going to do this with the application of cold and hot therapies designed to reduce inflammation and promote blood flow which incentivises your body to bring it all kinds of natural healing agents through your bloodstream. You are going to eat in a way that minimizes inflammation and aids your body in adaptation to stress. Well... you're only going to do these things if you want to get the most out of your workout.
Sarcasm and quips aside, if you want to step your game in the gym up. It’s time to look at the whole picture. CrossFitters have done well bringing this to the forefront and shining light on the other sides of the fitness equation but even they sometimes fall short. True recovery isn't about 20 minutes of foam rolling before your workout just like it isn't about drinking protein 30 minutes after. Approach your fitness with this mindset and you will be amazed at the upward mobility you unlock in your training ability. Over the next month, the culture report will be dedicated to helping you understand all things recovery.