Why do I need to rest? Recovery week is boring… Can’t I just foam roll at home more often? These have been common statements and questions from our members at Train for Life. Now, this article is written to the coaches and trainers, but our members will gain insight on what we hope to develop understanding of the why’s for what we do during recovery week. Everyone needs rest before the body breaks down and can no longer work at a high level. We focus this time to teach, correct and help improve our movement so at the start of the new month, we are ready to rock and roll!
Our philosophies are the backbone of our programming and everything we do has a purpose. It’s a constantly evolving system and it hasn’t always been this way, but we continue to strive for an optimal system to challenge our community to move well, be strong and in turn, enjoy life. You must have a system and a reason behind what you are doing. In order to achieve greatness in anything, a proper foundation must be laid. No one can squat heavy until they achieve the appropriate mobility to earn that position.
We are constantly reminding our members of the importance of mastery. These keys principles of adaptation and mastery shape our programming and each month stem from some of the lessons taught during ‘recovery week’. We need to teach you how to move well and provide you with the strategies to continue doing so. We need to get you to understand the why behind what we do and hopefully it will make the process easier. Recovery work isn’t the sexiest stuff, but in order to do the sexy exercises everyone wants to do, you’ve got to earn in!
It’s a Program
We don’t sell workouts, we sell programs. Each month is based on a four or five week schedule, the last week of each month being our recovery week. Every strength and conditioning program out there has a deload phase. You get stronger by recovering from exercise. This concept forms the basis of exercise physiology. Hans Selye first described in in 1936. The theory is basically described as:
- Provide a stimulus to an organism (in this case, exercise)
- Remove the stimulus (rest)
- The organism adapts to better handle the stimulus, ie. DO more WORK next time! This is called supercompensation.
If you skip this last step, you’re digging yourself into a deeper hole and what happens when the hole gets too deep, you’re fucked and can’t get out. Also known as overtraining which can lead to chronic fatigue and soreness and possibly injury.
So from now till the end of time or until someone discovers a better way, our PROGRAM will always include a recovery week.
So by now, hopefully you have bought into why we implement these strategies into our programming. Hopefully you are beginning to accept the fact that we will slow things down at the end of every month. If so, you are ready to learn and in turn, during every recovery week you can expect to improve your level of mastery on some type of foundational movements required in the upcoming month. I’ve heard over and over again that you can’t teach things like Turkish get ups or breathing or advanced Ultimate Sandbag movements like the Rotational Lunge in groups of 30. Why not? Because you aren’t taking the time to create a foundation! If you set the expectation that in these weeks, you will be teaching or revisiting certain movement skills, it will be expected to attend and work on mastery. Here’s an example from earlier this year that we used at Train for Life.
Let’s talk about one of our favorites the Turkish Get Up and how we introduce it:
1. Our typical week is broken up into 2-4 full body workouts depending on the training frequency of the given member so ideally each person will see these drills at least twice and be given time to practice before placing the new skill into a workout the following week.
2. Workout A – Introduce the Half Get Up (Roll to Elbow, Elbow to Hand and High Bridge) and include break out sections and drills to teach each position of the movement. Some of the drills we favor are the partner shoulder packing drill and wall drill to teach external rotation at the hip. New members will perform a naked get up (no kettlebell) while more advanced users can use this time to hone their movement or increase their weight from previous months.
3. Workout B – Introduce the Full Movement and again, incorporate drills to help build understanding of each step. All of these movements are done unweighted except for those individuals who have earned the right to do these movements previously.
4. Workout C – Review the Full Turkish Get Up and Troubleshoot. Walk your members through each and every step from bottom to top and back down. Do this on both sides and then provide time to practice. Whenever the coach sees a common issue, stop the group and use this time to explain how to fix this issue.
Make It Fun
One of my favorite phrases when it comes to group training and fitness in general is, “Give them what they want WHILE giving them what they need…” While it is extremely important to do the stuff you as an educated coach knows, it is also important to kick ass! People want to feel like they are working and WORK we shall! We typically will split our time between the important stuff that needs to be slowed down and coached and a term we borrowed from BJ Gaddour, Sweat and Stretch. For example, we will hammer some bodyweight conditioning for 4 minute work sets of :20/:10 paired with soft tissue work or static stretching. Or perhaps, we would do a workout focused on sleds and carries with recovery work between sets. We may incorporate some new mobility drills into these sections, but everything in this portion is quick to be taught and can be performed by all members, ie. high knees in place, jumping jacks, mountain climbers, etc. This keeps the hour challenging and exciting while allowing us to cover the important stuff, the recovery strategies and leave enough time for our lessons.
Remember, this isn’t a week off, so the next time you think about skipping it, rethink your decision and you might just GET BETTER!