The Other 23 Hours

By Coach Jeremiah Treadwell

Recovery begins the second your workout ends. While it’s obviously important to bust your ass day-to-day at the gym, I would argue that when it comes to achieving goals and living a healthy lifestyle, what you do outside the gym has just as big of an impact as what you do in the gym. Don’t let your hard work go to waste by being lazy and negligent with your life choices.

I have outlined below what I feel are the key components people of all fitness levels should focus on when maintaining a healthy lifestyle; while not everyone’s’ goals may be the same, each of these factors have a profound impact on both overall fitness and wellbeing.

The topic of nutrition related to fitness and working out is a beast. So, let’s keep it simple. Ideally, a moderate to large size meal should be consumed post-workout; amounts of macronutrients (protein / carbohydrate / fat) will vary depending on specific goals and the nature of the workout completed. Regardless, this arguably the most important meal of the day as it will help replenish your body’s energy stores as well as aid in building muscle mass. Naturally, eating whole foods is your best bet; if it’s packaged with a bunch of hard-to-pronounce ingredients, drop it. And remember: eat enough to support your physical demands of the day, nothing more.

Truth time: most of us aren’t drinking enough water throughout the day. While top athletes weigh themselves before and after training to see how much water they need to replace, most of us need to go to this extent. That said, ensuring you drink plenty of water after your workout is hugely important; more so if you drink a protein shake post-workout. People tend to wait for their brain to alert them that they’re in fact thirsty; however, this is a poor indicator to follow as it means you’re likely already dehydrated.

I like to recommend drinking one gallon of water throughout the day. This may seem like a lot, but if you spread it out it’s absolutely doable; you should avoid drinking too much water too quickly as this isn’t good for the levels of sodium in your blood (Google: hyponatremia). If you’re really going for it and drink more than one gallon of water per day, it may be beneficial to supplement with an electrolyte mix.

● Pro Tip #1: Down 12-24oz of water as soon as you roll out of bed. This is an awesome way to jumpstart your day.

● Pro Tip #2: Stop drinking your calories.

Repeat after me: Sleep is underrated! The magic happens when we sleep; in fact, I honestly wouldn’t be offended if you paused right now, mid-article, to go take a nap. That’s how important sleep is. Here’s why: Hormones supporting muscle growth and recovery are released as we sleep, which means obtaining 7-9 hours of uninterrupted quality sleep per night in a dark and cool room is optimal. If you can’t manage that much sleep during the night, work a nap in mid-day if possible. Sleep is essentially an opportunity to recover more quickly. Plus, who doesn’t love sleep?

● Tip: No screen time one hour before bed. The blue light suppresses the pineal gland in the brain; this gland is responsible for secreting the hormone melatonin. Melatonin is the hormone that promotes drowsiness. You do the math.

One thing that definitely makes me a sad panda is knowing a lot of people hit the gym hard, and then don’t move much the rest of the day. After exercise, muscles and tissues are still warm and pliable. This is a perfect time to hit some stretching and mobility (or yoga).

Walking is also an important aspect of recovery and staying active. Our muscles aid in flushing out byproducts via the lymphatic system when we move and walk, which helps promote recovery. Aim to hit at least 10,000 steps per day; set a timer at work and shoot to get up and move around every 20-30 minutes to get your hips and legs stretched out. Believe me, your ass is not made to be laminated to a chair all day.

As silly as it sounds, your mindset plays a pivotal role in achieving goals. First and foremost, celebrate the fact that you even made it to the gym! You had the time and energy to make it, while many others chose the easy way out and stayed at home on the couch.

Reflecting on what went right and what you can improve on is also beneficial. Did you give it 100% during the workout, or did you feel like you slacked a little bit? Use the small day-to-day victories as positive reinforcement and show up tomorrow with a positive attitude ready to kick some ass!

These strategies may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how much they’re ignored — and they’re imperative when it comes to getting the most out of your workouts! Remember: it’s not about forcing huge change right now, but rather making small changes and creating habits for the long-term.

“Even though you may not feel or look the part now, you must envision yourself in your ideal state. There is no such thing as perfection, only perfect effort. Through practicing a “perfect” version of ourselves mentally, we’ll slowly become that person in real life.” – Mark Devine of SealFIT.

Recovery Strategies

Simple and Effective Recovery Strategies for Increased Work Capacity
by Coach Michael Garrity

Ever since I became a strength coach and a personal trainer the most common question I receive from clients and athletes is “I want to see results fast, is it okay if I do extra workouts?”

This question is a loaded one; it takes more than just a simple post-WOD conversation to quench. The fact is, whether it be adding an extra strength session, cardiovascular workout, or an extra sports practice — people want to do everything they possibly can to hit their goals fast. However, in this age of instant gratification, it’s difficult for many to understand how physically and mentally taxing training at high volumes can be.

My first piece of advice for the athlete hoping to add extra credit to workouts would be this: TRUST THE PROCESS. Your coach or trainer has a curated plan for you; one he/she knows will garner results. And while you may not see them right away, if you are training consistently and doing your homework outside of the gym (proper nutrition and a healthy lifestyle), you are going to achieve greater results than you expect over time; it just takes hard work and consistency. So before you start adding two-a-days into your schedule, stick to your current program as best as you can with as much devotion as possible to healthy choices outside of the gym. The results will come, I promise.

On the flip side, there are people who just flat out love training and want to push themselves to be better every day. If you truly wish to add in extra workouts, I am fully supportive of it. In fact, I know first-hand how effective training at high volume can be and, most importantly, how much fun it can be if executed properly. The key is ensuring it’s done properly and attention is paid to the strategies of how to maintain both the lifestyle and substantial physical commitment.

In order to become more fit and/or improve in your sport, the body must be exposed to the stresses of training. Once this has happened the body then needs time to adapt to the stresses, meaning the body must recover properly. Once recovery is dialed in, the athlete will begin to see his/her results.

Recovery is just as important as training when it comes to seeing results, but it is often neglected and overlooked because it is much more passive than the actual training. This is the foundation needed to be able to train consistently at a high volume; all while attempting to avoid overtraining and the nemesis of all fitness and athletic goals: injury. The following are some simple and extremely effective recovery strategies for the everyday athlete looking to add in an extra workout to not only increase their work capacity, but also see results faster.

1. Rest and “Deloading”
Training is designed to progressively overload the body systems and fuel stores, placing stress on the body. The more efficiently you recover from training stresses and fatigue (and the
fresher you are at your next training session) the better chance you have at improving and seeing results. One of the most important strategies for recovery? Sleep. It provides time for the body to adapt to the physical and mental demands placed on it through intense training. At least 8 hours of sleep per night should be sought after by an athlete in an intense program. However, one must ensure that these hours include ​quality ​ sleep. Additional helpful strategies for passive recovery include reading or listening to music; these help the mind and body relax between sessions and recover from the physical and mental stresses of intense training. Also, simply occupying your mind with other activities or hobbies than training aid in the recovery process. People need time to focus on more relaxing activities where they are not worried about hitting a new weightlifting personal record or beating a certain time in a workout.

Another helpful strategy to increase recovery is to plan rest days and “deload” weeks throughout your program. Deloading entails scaling the loads and volume of training back from the prescribed amounts to let the joints decompress and allow the body to adapt. Plan recovery days within your training week to allow for rest and adaptation between heavy sessions. A simple format to follow is two days on and one day off. One can also plan and set up “deload” weeks for which the athlete still trains, but at far less intensity than usual — this allows the body to adapt to the stresses of the previous weeks. A strong format for deloading is three weeks on and one week off. It’s important to remember that during a deload week, you should continue to follow the same movements and exercises to keep the body active and help maintain commitment to the program.

2. Hydration
In the pyramid of recovery, rest is the foundation — but hydration is the cornerstone that allows for the pyramid to stay intact. Athletes within an intense training program would not be able to maintain training at a high intensity without proper hydration, nor would they see the same results. Since you sweat during exercise, it should come to no surprise that Intense training will increase your fluid needs. Some people naturally sweat more than others but even small sweat losses can cause fatigue and impair recovery. What’s more, many people don’t realize just how dehydrated the body can become during training; especially if he / she isn’t drenched from head to toe post-workout. It’s imperative to be aware as hydration can impair many physiologic functions. According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine, effects of dehydration include: decreased blood pressure, increased core temperature, increased heart rate, decreased blood flow to the muscles, and increased perceived exertion — all of which leads to a tough time trying to recovery between sessions. Properly hydrating before, during and post-workout will help your body adapt to the stresses of intense training by regulating temperature, transporting nutrients and oxygen, detoxifying the liver and kidneys, and also dissolving vitamins and minerals which leads to better recovery by replenishing nutrients lost during exercise. Drinking the proper amount of water while training at high intensity also returns your muscles to the more supple/elastic state at which they were meant to move, allowing them to stretch and contract at a more efficient rate. This in turn allows you to move pain-free and with a decreased sense of exertion. In other words, less muscle soreness and enhanced recovery times between sessions.
The best way to estimate how much fluid you lose during a session (and how much fluid should be consumed) is to weigh yourself before and after exercise. Each pound of weight lost is equivalent to one liter of fluid lost. (Just a 2% loss in body fluid can lead to 10% decrease in performance.) These fluids must be replaced during and after exercise. In general, we need about 2-3 liters of water to function properly while adhering to an intense training program. However, if you are looking to add in extra sessions, I’d recommend aiming for at least a gallon of water per day.

3. Active Recovery Strategies
Within the realm of recovery strategies are some more active forms of recovery that allow the body to adapt to the stress of training and maintain performing at a high level. The first and easiest of these active strategies is mobility and flexibility training. Just like strength and conditioning training, mobility must be regarded as a pillar of fitness that will help the athlete see results quicker and continue to train at a high level with less risk of injury. Anyone can improve flexibility with consistent training. When you’ve finished your session is a great time to stretch. Your muscles are warm and therefore there is less chance of damaging them. A light stretch after a session will help prevent injury and is a great way to wind down from the stresses of training. This will also kick start the recovery process for next session. Flexibility improves posture, prevents hip and low back pain, releases muscle tension and soreness, and increases your range of motion which all in turn decrease your risk of injury. A more exciting active recovery strategy is the dreaded ice bath. My advice? Grin and bear it. The ice bath is probably the most infamous recovery tool in the entire arsenal for a reason: they work. Upon plunging into the cold water, the blood vessels constrict and the blood will be drained away from the muscles that have been working, which removes lactic acid. Upon exiting the ice bath the capillaries in the muscles dilate; after which, fresh blood flows back into the muscles bringing with it oxygen and other nutrients vital to recovery. An ice bath should be no longer than 20 minutes. Since the sensation ice baths provide is often intense and uncomfortable for most people, first timers should “test the waters” for at least 5 minutes. Make it a goal to increase the time spent in the water each time to eventually hit the 20 minute mark. You will feel instantly refreshed after an ice bath and your ability to recover will be enhanced.

There’s no question that reaching fitness goals is just as contingent with recovery as it is with training. They must both be shows the same commitment and respect.

Good luck!

The Growth Trigger

The Growth Trigger
By Coach Isaac Vaisberg

George is a pretty strong guy. He’s 5’10 and 170lbs soaking wet — a stud by all counts. Every day, George walks into the gym and quickly completes the following: 100 pull-ups, 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups and 100 squats. He then wipes the sweat off his brow, chugs a protein shake, and leaves. He repeats this routine daily; week after week, month after month. George is strong, but he doesn’t seem to be getting any stronger. “The workouts are the same as they have always been,” he says in frustration. “Why have I stopped growing?!”

George answered his own question.

Remember in physics class when your teacher would have you memorize the definition of Newton’s Third Law? Well, it’s finally about to come in handy! Newton’s Third Law states that every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

Now, let’s apply that same formula to George: George’s body has become incredibly capable of handling the massive amount of reps that George throws at it. But herein lies the problem: as long as George continues to do that same workout, his body will stay the same.

Why? Because it doesn’t NEED to grow. His body is perfectly capable of the tasks that George gives it, and therefore it will remain the same. Think of it as muscle memory: as long as the level of demand remains at equilibrium with what his body can handle, there is no need for change.

So how can George progress? The answer is simple: he needs to ​trigger ​ growth. Triggering growth is straightforward in theory, but can become incredibly complicated at a cellular level. For the sake of this article, let’s stick to theory — which is this: ​In order to force your body to grow, you need to put it up against stimulus it cannot handle.

Think back to your first workout. For me, it was the following: 1000m row, 50 thrusters at 45lbs, and 30 pull-ups. Up until this workout, I had never really pushed myself to my limits. I had always given it my all until I hit about 80% of my cap, and then paced for the rest. Well, after the 1000m row, it took every fiber of my physical being to keep thrusting that bar upwards and every shred of determination I had left to keep me from putting it down. A few minutes later, I was on the ground with my vision fading and struggling to find a position on the floor which didn’t hurt. It was AWFUL, and awesome at the same time.

And here’s the best part: You know what I did that day? I grew! I grew ​a lot ​ . Every day after that I was able to push myself to that point, if not a little past it. Thrusters at 45lbs became easy; before I knew it, so did thrusters at 65lbs, 75lbs, 95lbs and 115lbs. (You get the idea.) Every time I leveled out, I increased the stimulus and forced my body to grow. There were days when I listened to my body and rested; there were days when I was not able to do more than
the previous day. But if you pick a day in March of last year and compare it to a day in August, you bet your ass I was either doing more work in August — or at the very least, amping up the intensity.

Being complacent is easier than ever these days. We live in a society from which struggles have been almost completely removed. We don’t have to hunt or forage for our food, defend ourselves or our families from predators, or take ourselves where we need to go. We have supermarkets, fancy houses and cars — we don’t even have to drive ourselves anymore (right, Uber?!). All of the challenge, or stimulus if you will, that used to trigger growth in our bodies has faded. Unfortunately, this means the same things that would have made us stronger, faster, and healthier have now been replaced with things that make us lazier, slower and complacent. It’s almost too easy to fall victim to our way of life; remove all struggle and never grow.

I urge you to fight it! Take the few hours a week you spend at the gym and really challenge yourself. This means pushing yourself! The fact is, you really can do more than you think you can.

And this doesn’t always translate to more weight or more reps. It could be as simple as just performing these exercises faster and with more intensity in your breath. The most important thing to remember is, you’re doing this because it will make you better and trigger growth — both physically and mentally.

Remember: You’re only as strong as what you put yourself up against. In other words, the struggle is not only real — it’s worth it!

The Hardest Part

The Hardest Part
By Coach Isaac Vaisberg

It’s 5:45am and I feel like death. My legs are sore from the hiking I did over the weekend; I didn’t get enough sleep and I know I have a twelve hour work day ahead of me. By the time I get in the office and open my computer, I have six voicemail messages as well as one-hundred and six unread emails; not to mention, a to-do list the size of my desk. It’s going to be a long day.

Regardless, when 2pm hits the clock, I know I have two choices: I can collapse on the comfy couch in my office until it’s time for me to coach at 5:30pm. Or I can suck it up, drink a little pre-workout, and go show the gym floor I am stronger than anything my day decides to throw at me. While some days it’s harder than others, I always pick the latter.

Potential clients approach me every day and ask, “Isn’t Sasquatch training hard?! You guys do pull-ups, push-ups and deadlifts! I don’t think I can do any of those things. Is this going to be too hard for me?”

My answer has always been, and will always be, “No.”

Training is easy. Doing pull-ups and deadlifts, thrusters and double unders, these are all things we get better at over time. And let me assure you: one day you will wake up, and 225lbs on the bar won’t feel quite so heavy. It will be faster than you think.

But here’s what ​is ​ hard: Showing up. Pulling yourself together to walk into the gym after a long day or a long week. ​That’s ​ hard.

When it comes to the fitness world, there’s a reason the mantra is “consistency is key” — it has always been what separates the ones who do from the ones who don’t. For whatever reason, there is a rampant misconception that in order to improve physical fitness you need to push yourself to the brink of death every time you are in the gym. While pushing limits and increasing intensity are certainly great tools in our fitness arsenal, they are ​far ​ less important than simply just showing up. And this goes for everyone from the first time gym-goer to Olympians. Showing up is and always will be the first and most important step in making progress. It sounds obvious, but I have a dozen clients I can think of right now that are dissatisfied with their progress; these are the same ones who show up only twice a week to work out for one hour.

Our habits define us. The people who make fitness a priority are the ones who will not only make the most progress, but retain it over the longest period of time.

So what action can you take to be more consistent in your pursuit of fitness?
● Schedule your classes like a meeting — an important one! — to work on you
● If you already show up to class regularly, schedule in some recovery time every week to make sure you are ready for the next phase in your training.
● Make it a priority. I promise you the results will shock you!

What is one simple action you can take to improve your consistency? Leave your response on the comments below.