I don’t think there’s a coach out there that doesn’t advocate strong support of factoring in rest and recovery protocols into our training. In the S&C community it’s one of the most hotly discussed areas however helping people understand why it’s so important without overloading them can be tricky. The problem as I see it is this: There is so much misinformation and so much information that gets misinterpreted about recovery protocols, knowing what you need to do and why you need to do it recovery wise becomes a sea of confusion.
The aim of this article is simple, I want to give you a solid idea of the easy to action things you can implement in order to recover from your climbing training, why they’re important and how they help you in the wider scope of life (i.e outside of climbing!).
Firstly, let’s get this straight, your training is only as good as your ability to recover from it.
No recovery → no adaptation.
No adaptation → no progress.
With that out the way, what are the things we need to factor in. They are (in no particular order), sleep, hydration, nutrition, stress, movement.
Let’s start with sleep because it’s probably the most important.
Get 7-8hrs of the stuff regularly. That’s it. No messing. Lie flat, shut your eyes and let nature do its thing. Aim to get as much regularity as possible with this one. Body’s love rhythms. The more routine we have the happier our body is, it knows when to turn on, when to power down and when to peak. Sleep helps muscle tissue repair, cognitive function to be restored, emotions to be calmed and information to be stored. Granted those with kids and shift workers have a hard time with this one, not everyone’s 24hrs is equal but if you implement one thing from this article make it this. Get more sleep, you’ll thank me later.
On to number 2 – Hydration.
Water: Your body is mostly made up of the stuff. All metabolic processes require water so that should be enough to state how important it is! There’s some debate as to whether our carcasses are 60 or 70% water but to be honest that’s irrelevant, the fact is if you don’t get enough you’ll feel it! A hydrated body is a happy body, however there is no 1 size fits all approach with regards to how much you actually need. A lot of studies we need at least 1.2-1.6l per day, but this is an AVERAGE and does not take into account body size, activity levels, environment etc. A good rule of thumb for intake would be one litre/1000 calories expended. Not sure how much energy you expend per day? Play around with this figure until you find a water intake that suits you best.
Again this is an entire topic in itself (and quite a complicated one at times) so let’s keep it brief and to the point. Food is your fuel, so put enough in your tank to make sure you can continue to climb with good energy. With that, make the fuel high in quality. Putting poor quality food in your body is just like putting poor quality food in your car, it wrecks the insides, makes it work harder than it needs and decreases the responsiveness. If you’re struggling on this one, please feel free to talk to me either by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or via instagram at https://www.instagram.com/will_green_kinesis/.
Stress is up next…
Put simply your body responds to all stress the same whether it be physical or psychological. When it perceives a threat to it’s survival it ramps up adrenaline and cortisol in particular. That’s not to say these compounds are bad, they have their place in the training-recovery process but when they’re ramped up beyond optimal levels they can tear everything apart.
As stated the body responds to all stresses the same way and if it’s stressed all the time it’s energy levels plummet. Let’s say you smash out a hard week of training, combine that with high psychological stress (job, personal life etc) – your ‘body battery’ is constantly being depleted. The hormones that put the foot on the gas pedal never let up. As a result sleep is interrupted in quality as well as quantity and nothing can make up for this. Your diet and water intake could be fantastic but if your physical and or psychological stress is too high you never recharge. In fact too much stress actually causes less of the good stuff from your diet to be absorbed as a highly stressed body is bad news for your gut biome.
If psychological stress is high, lower the training intensity and reach out for help if you’re struggling.
This leads me nicely onto movement or physical stress as I have just deemed it. There is only so much movement your body can handle so don’t bite off more than you can chew, it’s always better to undertrain than to overtrain. The disparity in gains between and under trained person and an overtrained person is huge and not to be underestimated. An overtrained person is consistently hitting performances well below their best and over time these performances will reduce as this person struggles to break the all important barrier of homeostasis (i.e. the level of stress required to create an adaptation). Over trained individuals cannot physically push hard enough to get over the threshold required to see gains (and thus improvement), whereas the undertrained individual will always have the energy to do so.
Back off the training and take deload weeks as and when YOU need and not every 6 weeks as most template programs suggest. If you’re feeling the heat don’t be afraid to back off. The time spent recovering from too much training (think injuries & energy) is far more costly than training less for a certain period of time. Remember your training is only as good as your ability to recover from it.
Get some R&R my friends!