Paths to Exercise Recovery
When it comes to balancing your training program, your mindset should be, “Tomorrow’s workout begins with your recovery from today’s.” Exercise recovery heals the pounding, twisting and tearing of physical activity. A well-thought-out strategy for recovery is becoming ever more crucial with the rising popularity of high-intensity workouts featuring barbells, kettlebells, heavy medicine balls, explosive plyometrics and anaerobic interval training.
These methods produce results, but there is such a thing as too much exercise. Hitting it too hard for a day produces temporary soreness. Keeping up that intensity for too long can produce overtraining syndrome (OTS), which causes a raft of problems (see “Metabolic Damage From Overtraining” and “Symptoms and Effects of Overtraining Syndrome,” below). Teaching your clients alternative recovery methods can help them stay on track while reducing the risk of overtraining.
That means teaching them the full scope of recovery—optimal hydration, proper nutrition, increased circulation and healthy sleep patterns—to help the body heal. By identifying the best recovery strategies for each client’s needs, you set yourself apart as a knowledgeable fitness professional who understands the importance of what happens after people leave the gym. That’s good for business and great for clients.
Addressing the Threat of Overtraining
Proper rest and recovery helps avoid overtraining.
We all need rest because it helps the body put hormones and satellite cells to work repairing damaged tissues, restoring spent energy to muscle cells and removing metabolic byproducts that can be recycled into more fuel or eliminated from the body.
Most group workouts or individual client sessions last 30–60 minutes and usually do not impose enough stress to require specific interventions beyond eating right and getting enough sleep. However, weightlifting to the point of fatigue or doing high-intensity interval training that leads to breathlessness can cause metabolic damage to body tissues. Over time, the damage can accumulate and cause OTS.
Technically speaking, OTS is a quantifiable loss of performance in a specific sport. If your clients or group workout participants do not use quantitative performance metrics like running a distance in a certain time or lifting predetermined weights in their workouts, it can be difficult to say if they are experiencing OTS. Moreover, the syndrome can’t be diagnosed accurately without first ruling out iron deficiency with anemia and organic or infectious diseases.
Since diagnosis is a doctor’s job, you’re far better off encouraging clients to adopt specific recovery strategies that are affordable, convenient and easy to stick with. That way, you can limit accumulation of metabolic fatigue and avoid OTS in the first place.
SYMPTOMS AND EFFECTS OF OVERTRAINING SYNDROME
Doing too much high-intensity exercise without adequate rest or working out too many days in a row without a break can lead to overtraining syndrome, especially if other stressors are present.
OTS is associated with chronic fatigue, decreased physical performance, mood changes, neuroendocrine system imbalances and frequent illnesses.
Here’s a look at the effects of common OTS symptoms: