Test Week and Recovery
Instead of a podcast this week, I felt like writing my thoughts down instead because I wanted to talk about test week, recovery and the holidays coming up.
First things first, here is what we're testing this week...
Monday: Power Clean and the work out is a nasty chipper
Tuesday: Back Squat speed work, not a max out day with an ascending ladder with dips, KBS and pull ups
Wednesday: Power Snatch max with a 3 RFT grip burner
Thursday: Push Press max with an EMOM for the work out
Friday: Banded Deadlift work with a nasty amrap of deadlifts, rope climbs, farmers carry, DUs and HSPUs
Saturday: Back Squat max out and Assault Bike test.
This is going to be a gnarly and tough week so you guys need to make sure your recovery, hydration and sleep are on point. I hear a lot of rumbling in the gym about...weight gain...how you guys can't wait for the diet challenge...how the holidays snacks at work have you eating like an asshole every day...etc.
You guys dont understand how much your nutrition, sleep and hydration is affecting your physical results in the gym (PRs, lifting heavier, progressing each week...etc) and the additional strain it puts on your body (stress, inflammation, hydration, heart rate...etc). Add in stress from your social or work life and it's nearly impossible to feel good in the gym each day. You guys also dont understand how alcohol affects you for 2-3 days POST drinking.
Want to know why? Because I didn't realize how much it was affecting ME, until I started tracking my recovery.
Now dont get me wrong, we have seen A LOT of strength progress in the last 11 weeks of this cycle, but for those of you that are frustrated...keep reading (WARNING: This is really lengthy)
Everything I know and tell you guys, it is because I have learned, researched and/or experienced it myself. It is my job to learn from my experiences, to learn from YOUR experiences and progress and adapt the gym, nutrition and programming to benefit all of us.
The last 2 years I haven't trained like I was when I was doing my training for Regionals and the Opens. I needed a physical break. I needed a mental break. I needed to let loose and live a life OUTSIDE of the gym. And guess what, I stopped focusing on everything I mentioned above...making sure I was drinking 60-70% of my bodyweight in ounces of water each day like Coach Robin made me do. I went from training twice (sometimes 3x) per day 5-6 days a week to 2-3 days per week. I wasn't getting yelled at anymore for only sleeping 5-6 hours per night and drinking 4 days a week. I stopped tracking my work outs and wasn't consistent with a training program.
And man, I started to feel like shit...mentally and physically and I got tired of it.
I am going to show you guys some data that backs up everything we talk about when it comes to progress in the gym, recovering and being healthy.
I was like you guys...Monday through Friday I kept my food intake decent, worked out at the gym 2-3 times per week (some weeks more if I could fit it in), hydration was okay, I drank once or twice during the week (usually wine with dinner) and so was sleep.
On Saturday though, it was usually PARTY TIME!
Below is personal data for daily recovery, daily strain (thin blue line), daily sleep (need vs actual) the week of the Halloween party...check it out below.
During the week, I had average strain each day. Average strain is a level 12 for someone with 50% recovery and higher. You'll see on Tuesday I had higher strain because I worked all morning and had personal training sessions at night, making it for a long work day on my feet. This is why my recovery for Wednesday is a bit lower than what it was on Monday and Tuesday...even though I got 8.5 hours of sleep Tuesday night.
What I want to direct your attention to is Sunday. Recovery is shit. Sleep is shit. I only got 1 real hour of sleep (Deep Sleep and REM sleep) that night...even though I was "asleep" and in bed for 5 hours. At the Halloween party, I had cookies, chips, candy...etc. I had 1 rum and coke and 2 shots the ENTIRE night....a span of 6 hours...THAT is how much A SMALL amount of alcohol affects you.
Dont believe me. Keep reading.
After the halloween party, I was done.
Done snacking in the middle of the day.
Done snacking in the middle of the night.
Done drinking alcohol.
Done with diet sodas.
Done having my work outs feel like shit.
Just done feeling like shit.
So on that Sunday while I was cleaning the gym, I made a decision to focus on:
1. Drinking 1 gallon of water per day.
2. Sleeping a minimum of 7 hours per night.
3. Working out 6 days per week but for NO LONGER than 90 minutes.
4. Going back on my macros, weighing my food, tracking my food each day.
5. I cut out caffeine. (Yes, I now drink decaf coffee.)
Here is what happened that week with recovery, sleep quality and strain levels:
For reference, I worked out Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday so my strain levels were higher than they were the week before (Halloween party week) AND my recovery was better. I also got more quality sleep that week as well. And surprisingly, I didn't wake up in the middle of the night to pee 800 times because I was now drinking a minimum of a gallon of water per day.
On to the next week....
For reference this week, I worked out Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday so my strain levels were similar to the week before. I drank a gallon of water each day and hit my macros within 5g +/- of proteins, fats and carbs. Sleep and recovery are trending in the right direction.
On to this past week...
Again, I worked out the same as the last 2 weeks...Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. However, my recovery levels were great and I honestly was feeling awesome. I remember telling someone last week that I felt "fuckin bulletproof" again. My strain on Tuesday is higher than it was in the past 2 weeks because I put in a morning time session, and went for an afternoon session after I was done with work.
My recovery on Thursday and Friday was not great and the only thing I can think of is that I changed up my diet this week. The last 2 weeks I ate a lot of fish, shrimp, tuna and chicken...this week I was craving tacos so I made beef tacos and honestly, my digestive system was fucked all week and I was extra sore this week.
Could it have been a combo of my guts being inflamed from the beef, throwing my digestion off? Maybe.
Could it have been me pushing a bit harder and heavier in the gym? Maybe.
Could it have been that last Friday I got a massage, so my recovery was drastically better last week than this week? Maybe.
Could it be a combination of all three? I am going to go with yes.
When your gut is fucked up, you have an increased level of inflammation in your body. As we all know, inflammation is your body's process of fighting against things that harm it, such as infections, injuries, and toxins, in an attempt to heal itself. When something damages your cells, your body releases chemicals that trigger a response from your immune system.
Recovery on Sunday, in one word, "fucked".
Saturday night I went to a fancy gala downtown and in a span of 6 hours, I had TWO glasses of wine after not drinking for three weeks...other than that, I was drinking water. I didn't eat like shit...we had salad, steak and sweet potatoes and a tiny piece of cake for dinner.
We came home late and I swear I woke up on Sunday (I spent 8 hours in bed) thinking, "Man, I slept pretty hard"...wrong. My body only "slept" for 5.5 hours and I was in deep and REM sleep for less than an hour out of the 5 my body registered.
That is the affect alcohol has on your body, heart rate, metabolism, hydration, inflammation...it is absolutely crazy.
The moral of the story is the motto we live by in the gym: Full Effort is Full Victory.
You cannot go to the gym 4-5 times per week, eat like an asshole and party like a rockstar and expect to be healthy and see the results you want to see.
You cannot do things in parts...it has to be a full package deal: gym, hydration, clean eating and sleep.
For the last 2 years, I was doing 1 part...I was just working out and neglecting everything else.
What did I learn?
1. Getting back into shape is fucking hard. I spend more time peeing during the day than coaching because I drink a gallon of water per day BUT my sleep is better because my body is hydrated so I no longer wake up 2-3x per night having to pee.
2. Sleep is EVERYTHING. For fat loss. For stress. For digestion. For inflammation. For muscle recovery. For mental sharpness. For daily productivity.
3. Sweet tooth is gone.
Because I am sleeping more and getting better quality sleep...I no longer have a sweet tooth.
There has been study after study done about how leptin levels increase in individuals who don't get enough sleep or who are chronically tired. The body tries to make up for the being tired, by craving food it doesn't need to "survive" so cortisol levels rise and the need for something "sweet" or "salty" is what we crave in those situations.
Also, because I have been so diligent with eating my macros and what I put into MyFitnessPal the night before, I didn't have any room for sweets so naturally I didn't think about it. Now it has just become habit not to have anything sweet.
4. Less is more.
I dont need to work out for 2-3 hours and I physically cant recover from it. 60-90 minutes is perfect for me to be able to recover given my caloric intake, amount of sleep, amount of daily work and stress I have.
I also balance HARD lifting/cross-training days with MODERATE days. You cant work out HARD every day, your recovery will slowly decline throughout the week.
5. Decaf coffee is fine. I like how black coffee tastes with my egg omelette and overnight oats in the morning.
6. Alcohol affects us more than we think. Even if it is 1 to 2 drinks...alcohol affects how we metabolize food. It affects our heart rate and blood flow. It dehydrates us and increases inflammation...2 things we do not want, ever.
How did this happen?
1. 100% no bullshit....I wasn't held accountable anymore.
Over the years while I was training for Regionals, I treated it like my job and Coach Robin was my boss.
She was on my ass every day about everything I mentioned above and I obviously took it for granted and DID NOT realize how important these things were to be happy, healthy and sleep well. During my Regional years, I never had a problem sleeping or taking naps...it was a daily occurrence for me to come home after training and take a nap.
I guess I need a Coach too, which is why I hired my Coach back to whoop my ass in the gym and be on my ass as far as my own health and wellness goes.
What made me want to change?
1. I want to continue to be a role model to YOU.
2. I wanted to PROVE that what we say in the gym is exactly what we DO outside of it.
3. In preparation for the holidays and the 2020 diet challenge, I wanted to provide you guys with RAW data that shows if you want the results, you cannot half ass it.
4. I was tired of feeling like shit.
5. I was tired of my work outs feeling like dog shit and not getting the results that I wanted.
What can you do NOW?
1. Dont fuck up the next 3 months for 1 thanksgiving dinner, and 2 days for Christmas and 1 night of New Years.
Start focusing on the things I did above for holiday maintenance to be 110% ready to go come February 3rd.
Want more information on my Whoop recovery band?