Sep 16, 2016


By Josh Hunt

A few days ago I was sitting in my 1970’s bright orange arm chair, in my office (formerly Nerdatorium) reading a comic book, Nighthawk #1 to be precise. In this comic Raymond Kane (a.k.a. Nighthawk) is having a conversation with Tilda Johnson his support/tech/genius/female counterpart and she makes a comment that ‘even Frank Castle (the Punisher) is known to take catnaps.’ To which Raymond responses “I don’t have time for that” as he slams his fist down on his desk. The idea that one does not have time for rest and recovery is interwoven in fiction and our routine life. Think about it, what does every comic book superhero have in common? It’s not their motives; Deadpool’s motives are much different that Batman’s. It’s not their abilities because Daredevil’s powers are much different than Spawns’. It’s their recoverability. Every superhero can recover at the drop of a hat, not only that but they can all take a beating whether they are mutant, enhanced human, cosmic being, or a badass human. This concept goes beyond the realm of the comic book, pretty much every action hero has the resiliency and ability to recover of a Greek god. How bad has James Bond been assaulted in the most recent movies, only to snap back and fight the bad guys? Video games are the same way, if you eat food you recover your energy or hit points. There is no need to sleep or relax or anything of that nature. Hell, I’ll depart from my nerd world for a second and discuss the real world I know plenty of lifters that will work out for three hours, but get five hours of sleep. I’ve had discussions with Crossfit practitioners and most of them are focused on how hard they can hit it that day. Recovery is not a concept that they spend a whole lot of time considering, because ‘if you ain’t training you’re getting weaker.’ On an average Sunday many of us spend time getting things done around the house instead of resting and recovering. This is bullshit, as the old adage goes ‘an empty vessel pours no water’ but many athletes have this mindset they can do what normal humans can’t which is get more out of themselves than everyone else.

I’m going to be honest; often time I really neglect the importance of recovery myself. On average I get six and a half hours of sleep, maybe less. I find it difficult to sit around the house when there are things that I can be ‘doing.’ I hate the idea of just having a lazy day. I took a day off of work recently and I forced myself to do nothing but read comic books, watch Star Trek the Next Generation, and nap. This was a difficult thing for me to do. I kept fighting the feeling that I could be researching lifting programs, hitting the gym, doing some cardio, fixing something around the house, or doing something productive. By 5:00 pm I felt dirty, like I needed to take a shower, and I am not embellishing this is how I literally felt. But, I really needed a day to recover, I actually probably needed a week to recover but who can do that? I’ve been hitting the gym pretty hard. Most of my workouts take at least two and a half hours at a pop, and I am in the gym four days a week just for lifting. In addition to my powerlifting; I try to get in cardio in three to five days a week, I do mobility work a few days a week, I make time to hit the sauna when I can, and try to do little biohack wherever I can cram them in. However, I seem to forget that these things not only take time and effort, but they take energy. For whatever reason I keep thinking that I am going to recover as fast as Wolverine, but I don’t have an X factor, I’m just a normal guy.

I hit up a yoga class with a buddy every other Saturday. I do this to try to get more limber and to recover a bit. As a recent class progressed I pushed myself to keep up, against the instruction of the lady putting on the class. About twenty minutes in I could feel myself tap in to my central nervous system. The best way I could describe it was it was like a brown out. The lights dimmed but did not go out. At this point I decided to tone back and listen to my body. I found myself in child’s pose more of the session than I planned. It hurt my ego a bit, but unfortunately I was compartmentalizing my efforts. I thought that I could work so hard in the yoga class and that the six weeks of brutal training in ninety-three-degree heat had little to no effect on me in regard to what I was doing at the time. But, I was wrong, everything is an aggregate. If you stress yourself out at work, you can’t push as hard as you want to in the gym. If you decide to mow the lawn in the hottest part of the day, you might not be able to hop out of bed with the same energy level as the day before. It takes scheduled time and considerable amount of discipline to actually recover. This doesn’t just happen magically, a human needs sleep, food, and down time.

The concept of recovery sometimes is not in an athlete’s vernacular. How many times have we choked down a double dose of pre-workout or sucked down a pot of black coffee because we were tired and needed the extra edge for a day for training? How often have we put off recovery time so that we would spend another half hour in the gym fishing up our auxiliary sets? How apt are we to take a legitimate recovery day when there is nothing left in the tank? We all do things to direct energy into our workouts. Doing the work is important to us, but all too often we allow ourselves to think we can recover on a timeline that is not feasible. There is no supplement in the world that will give us enough energy to do all the things we want to do. Most of us are burning the candle at both ends, we beat ourselves up with training (and the rest of our everyday life) and we don’t make time to recover. At some point this will negatively affect us. This will lead to injury, mental fatigue, overtraining, or straight up burn out. We cannot continue to ask our bodies to take the abuse that powerlifting does while not taking time to recover. We only have so much to give and all things add up. We cannot will more energy than we have. We cannot continue to run on empty and deplete every energy store we have. Caffeine and stimulants don’t give us more energy, they allow us to tap what we have left in our bodies.

I believe if I am going to progress in this sport I need to practice better balance. As I see it, as a simplistic idea performance has three legs: training, nutrition, and recovery. If you cut one leg short you become off balance and sub-optimize so you can’t achieve your full potential. I believe most of us lifters have a pretty good handle on training and a good idea of what we should and shouldn’t be eating. But, often times we marginalize recovery. Arnold Schwarzenegger lived this balanced idea when he was competing. You can see it in Pumping Iron, all he pretty much did was train, eat, and sleep. I am really working on getting better at trying to recover. Getting more sleep is a goal that I am really working on, even if it is just a few more minutes a night. I am working on ignoring my inner voice that is telling me to go do something because expending additional energy can be counterproductive. If I can recover just a little more that might mean I can add five more pounds on to my work sets. This might not seem like much, but over time that five pounds could be the difference between an average lift and a personal record or the difference between the silver and the gold. If I allowed myself to fully recover or at least get more recovery in I believe my training would be better and I’d be stronger. I’d also be a happier person because I find myself dragging ass a lot, and I know this bums my friends out when I don’t have the energy to come over and hang out.

We as athletes need to stop focusing on pushing ourselves to the limit. I suggest we redefine the limit based on being a recovered athlete not reliant on sole willpower and NO xplode. I’d wager that we’d push our own limitations further than expected because we can take the beat down that is powerlifting. I am going to try to stop getting blood from a turnip, and I’ll let you know how it goes.

-We restart, refresh, and then we shut down
Give up and find something better to do- Intronaut


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