Recovery 101

Recovery is that necessary evil that many people overlook. Everybody wants to train hard everyday…no days off, but that just doesn’t last very long. In order to perform well and stay healthy, we must adjust our training, to allow our body to recover between sessions.

Remember, the goal is to get better, not just tired…

In Chinese philosophy, yin and yang (also yin-yang or yin yang, 陰陽 yīnyáng “dark—bright”) describes how opposite or contrary forces are actually complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world, and how they give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another.

Inside our bodies we have the autonomic nervous system, which is split into two parts: parasympathetic and sympathetic.  The sympathetic nervous system is involved in the stimulation of activities that prepare the body for action, such as increasing the heart rate, increasing the release of sugar from the liver into the blood, and other generally considered as fight-or-flight responses (responses that serve to fight off or retreat from danger).  The parasympathetic nervous system activates tranquil functions, such as stimulating the secretion of saliva or digestive enzymes into the stomach.

The key point here is that we need to develop a balance between ‘fight and flight’ and ‘rest and digest’.

Its important to give our brain and our body some time to chill out, so they don’t burn out and break down.

Below are some of our favorite ways to recover, restore and replenish.


Parasympathetic over-training (usually experienced by endurance athletes) is a state of “Rest or Digest” in which your body is chronically trying to repair itself.

Signs and Symptoms of Parasympathetic Over-training include:

  • heavy fatigue
  • insomnia
  • no libido
  • chronic tiredness
  • low motivation
  • low resting heart rate
  • low blood pressure

To help balance this out and allow this system to recover you can try the following tips:

  1. Increase protein and fat intake – meat, eggs, avocados, nuts, etc.
  2. Vitamin B and C
  3. Contrast showers – 3 min hot, 1 min cold x 3 rds.
  4. Dry Sauna, alternated with short, cold plunge or shower
  5. Intensive Massage

Sympathetic Overtraining (usually experienced by power or speed athletes) is a chronic state of “fight or flight”, in which your body is under constant stress (ie- production of stress hormones like cortisol, which will in turn effect everything down stream including pregnenalone, DHEA, testosterone among many others).

Signs and Symptoms of Sympathetic Overtraining Include:

  • irritability
  • restlessness
  • poor sleep
  • weight loss
  • poor performance
  • low libido

To correct this functional state, you can try:

  1. Eating more fruits and vegetables
  2. Avoid coffee, tea, energy drinks or other stimulants.
  3. B Vitamins
  4. Warm bath or hot tub for 15-20 minutes
  5. Light exercise, like swimming, walking or similar.
  6. Get outside and relax

Monitor Recovery

  • Resting Heart Rate – take a resting heart rate reading every morning, before getting out of bed.
  • 1 minute recovery between rounds – After sparring or rolling live, take your heart rate and then rest for 1 minute and repeat the test.
  • Performance #s – broad jump, vert.  A simple vertical jump test can tell you a lot about an athlete’s recovery.
  • Sleep – How are you sleeping?  Having trouble or getting 7-9 hours of good sleep?
  • Using Tech – heart rate monitors, Omegawave or other tests can help give you some insight on how well the athlete is recovering.

More Resources

Podcasts w/ Top Experts on Recovery and Performance

Training and Hormone Optimization

Using Tech to Monitor Functional Readiness and Recovery

Understanding when to push and when to chill out

Physical Therapist from Phase IV performance and testing

Other Articles and Posts

Active Recovery Techniques

Diaphragmatic Breathing

20 minute Recovery Flow

Recovery Tools and Products