Exercise is easy.  It only takes a few minutes each day.  With only a bit of effort you can get a fairly intense workout in.  For most of you reading this, it is more the norm to do too much of it rather than not enough.  Many of us need desperately to recognize your time at the gym is not when  the majority of your improvements are made.  Gains of strength, stamina, and endurance are made in the hours between your workouts.

Recovery starts with protein.

Nutrition and sleep are the two most important factors affecting recovery.   High quality protein is the first priority of a training person’s diet.  If you’re training you need 1 to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of your body weight daily.  Upping your protein will give your body the required building blocks to repair the damage you do to your body during training.  Bonus: upping the protein will make it difficult to put any junk in your gut and you’ll lose fat.

BCAAs are the most important recovery supplement.

You’re probably not surprised, for recovery, EPA & DHA (high potentcy fish oil) and BCAAs are next in the nutrition line to improve your recovery.  Take a combined 1 gram of EPA and DHA per each percent of your body fat each day to reduce inflammation and improve your immune system’s ability to heal you.  The optimal amount of BCAAs is 1/4 of a gram per pound of body weight (140lbs = 35 grams per day).  Take 5-10 grams pre workout, 5-10 grams during your workout, and the remainder of your needed BCAAs post workout for the best results.

When it comes to sleep, 8 hours is key.  If that’s not going to happen, the best thing you can do is get up the same time everyday.  Sleep experts typically agree on this one thing.  If you’re not sleeping well, the amino acid L-typtophan and magnesium usually do the trick.  I’ve recently been taking a new chelate of magnesium, magnesium threnoate just before bed.  It should come with a “do not operate heavy machinery” warning on it.  I’ve been getting the most restful sleep I’ve had in many years.

Get 8 hours of sleep and wake each day at the same time to ensure the best recovery.

Sweating rids the body of toxins, waste products (metabolites), and heavy metals.  So, in theory, you rid the body of wastes when you workout.  The problem is, you are also producing wastes while you train.  Enter the infrared sauna.  A 30 minute stay inside the dry, 135 degrees of the sauna will allow your body to flush out wastes and toxins while you sit.  Bonus: the heat is relaxing and soothing and the detox will reduce the soreness (DOMS) associated with intense exercise.  Not sure about the IR Sauna?  Ask any of the instructors

Sweat with no work to detox and relax.

and we’ll be more than happy to let you try it out.

Another great tool in our recovery tool box is the ice bath.  The ice bath reduces inflammation in much of the same way as placing an ice  pack on an injured area.  Only the bath is “all encompassing” and is best used as a preventative measure, not after an injury occurs.  We have a tub for ice baths and I’ve just put a freezer for ice in the gym.  You can buy a few bags of ice or bring your own.  Immediately following your post workout nutrition, take a plunge.  It only takes 5 minutes.  Anything beyond that can actually cause inflammation and stress.

Cody "enjoying" a nice cozy ice bath.

If you want the full recovery ride, try contrasting cold and heat.  Get 5 minutes in the ice bath, 20-30 in the sauna, and follow up with another 5 in the ice.

The sauna, ice bath, or the combo contrast should be done at least once per week and can be done daily.  After each workout at the Regionals, I had the team sit for 5 minutes in the ice bath.  Many of them had never tried it before but now swear by it.  Give the sauna and/or the ice bath a try and you’ll immediately feel the difference they make.


A couple that plays together... Chrissy and Mike D. during Saturday's team wod.

4 rounds
10 DB Backwards Alternating Lunge
Rest 20 seconds
10 Poliquin Box Steps
Rest 20 seconds
10 DB Squat
Rest 3 minutes

6 thoughts on “Recovery, Recovery, Recovery

  1. Scott S says:

    I had the opportunity to try t.’s ice bath/sauna/ice bath regimen. While I wasn’t doubtful, I underestimated how much better I would feel. After doing it, my body felt “lighter” somehow and I was completely rested and free of pain. It was as if the rest/healing process was greatly accelerated.

    Was the water cold? Of course it was! But by the second ice bath, it actually felt relaxing. By the way, at Costco you can get 20 pounds of $1.95 so the cost is pretty low. I can see getting hooked on this routine so my only complaint is that I don’t have time to do it every day.

    As usual, thanks t. for opening up my perspective to another improvement.

  2. Tanner says:

    Great work by the classes this morning. Those step ups are tough! To all the open gym folks, don’t neglect this strength work, it’s not as cool as back squats and deadlifts, but it will transfer over and make you stronger in all of your lifts.

  3. t. says:

    Noelle sent me this article from Whole 9 (by Melissa Byer’s I’m guessing but I didn’t see an author) on the difference of rest and recovery. Check it out.


    I know many of you train more than you should… especially those of you that jump from the YMCA to GOLD’s to CFW to Yogo to the Loop. If those of you that train 2 a days more than 3 times per week aren’t getting results or are storing fat no matter how little you eat, it would be a good idea to hit a hard and heavy strength program designed by someone other than yourself and then actually following it.

    Recovery. Try it.

  4. Meagan says:

    Much to my dismay, I got in the ice bath on a rest day. I whine a lot, as you all know, and it really wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I woke up the next day feeling great and ran a 5K, taught a kickboxing class and a yoga class. 🙂 Try it out!

  5. Duane says:

    I, too, had the opportunity to try out the ice bath/sauna/ice bath combo recently. The ice isn’t bad at all and like every other thing that Tony (and the other trainers) has recommended… It worked!

  6. Laurence White says:

    I have supplied a number of Cross Fit gym’s with our Inflatable Ice Bath as it is portable, durable and easy to set up. If you visit our website you will see promotional videos, testimonials as well as listings on where they can be purchased.

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