Notes on recovery. For the WODS please page down.

December 2, 2013

Every few months I give a soapbox speech about one thing or another. Sometimes they’re predicated by a specific event, but such is not the case today. I’d like to stress the importance of recovery protocols.

First off, this is not as important if what you want out of your fitness efforts could be characterized as “normal”. If you just want to “tone up” “lose a few pounds” “feel better” or “get stronger” in some vague, amorphous way. If that sounds like you, there definitely IS a place for you in CrossFit. My hope is that your fitness ambitions evolve in time into something more ambitious, but if they never do you are still welcome to work towards whatever makes YOU satisfied.

If you ambitions are more aggressive, are what we’d commonly characterize as “performance based” fitness, you need to pay attention to below.

CrossFit, as we practice it, is a vehicle or method that can drive your fitness to impressive, top 1-2% of the population levels. But reaching that degree of fitness demands more commitment from you, the athlete, than merely showing up and working hard. Your nutrition needs to be solid, and for many of you that means slashing your starch intake to achieve optimum bodyfat levels, reducing or eliminating alcohol, upping your protein to facilitate repairing the muscle damage we create in the gym, and sleeping to the point where you wake up, rather than being woken up by something external (alarm clock, your wife etc).

So, if you’re a bagel and OJ in the morning, beer or two at night, subway sandwich for lunch cause turkey equals protein, alarm wakes me up to get to CrossFit at 7, your fitness will be muted at best.

Nutrition and rest are ESSENTIAL to fitness and failure to prioritize these elements will leave most of you disappointed with your progress. That said, I’m going to talk more about recovery protocols that are more specific and active than just “eat better and rest more”, Recovery Supplements and Active Recovery protocols.


Supplements- Please do your own research as you see fit, but here’s my opinion on the very basics of supplements for recovery.

1) I cant say enough good things about BRANCH CHAIN AMINO ACIDS or BCAA’s. They are inexpensive and potent with little to no side effects and do not need to be cycled (phased in and out). Prior/During/After training is the most common protocol for timing your dosage. Conventional wisdom is 10 grams/day for athletes under 150lbs. 15 Grams for athletes 150-200 and 20 for athletes 200+. I’d say start at those levels and if you have no digestion issues, bump another 5 grams. I am for 20 grams mixed with water and sipped throughout my workout. The reduction in soreness when I do this vs when I do not is DRAMATIC.

2) Fish Oil- I cant give this as strong an endorsement only because the effect is not as immediate and profound as BCAA supplementation. and it’s much more expensive per serving, BUT the science is so strong that I take it every day. Basically an anti-inlamatory and blood thinner. Here you need an upmarket brand (I take Nordic Naturals usually. Poliquin Makes a good one) and your dosage needs to be high. I recommend the liquid vs the pills to make getting enough a bit easier.

3) A recovery shake- We sell it Progenex, because I recommend it, I dont recommend it because we sell it. This is another product where I felt the difference in soreness in one application. That said, if you are getting tangible recovery benefits from another, less expensive shake product, the sugars are moderate to low and you can abide the taste, by all means stick to that.

Active Recovery Protocols

1) Rollout. I’m going to say without reservation that the therapy rollers (grey pvc and cardboard tubes) and Lacrosse Balls give THE best Return on Investment, per unit of time of ANYTHING you could possibly do to aid your recovery specifically and your fitness in general. 5-7 minutes of rolling your legs out can save you a full day of recovery. That is no exaggeration. Youtube “therapy rolling”. It is SIMPLE to do and powerful in effect.

2) Stretch Post Workout. You may just want to lie there and gasp, but when you can, stretch the stressed system (legs, shoulders etc). In conjunction with rolling, this is a great 1-2.

3) Cold therapy/Contrast Therapy- Cold therapy is usually localized ice or ice baths. Contrast therapy is alternating bouts of cold and heat. This is uncomfortable and inconvenient, but worth it if the issues are chronic. On a related sidebar, I am a huge advocate of ice application IMMEDIATELY at the onset of anything like a sprain or a muscle pull, and by immediately I mean under 2 minutes. Even a delay to 5 or ten minutes post-event seems to (in my direct experience) lead to a slowed recovery path.

This may sound very involved to people unfamiliar to much of this stuff, so to wrap it all up, here’s what a day of perfect recovery would consist of.

I’d arrive at the gym with a shaker bottle of roughly 20 grams of bcaa’s in water.

Throughout my workout I’d drink the 16 oz of BCAA’s solution and be done start to finish in about 45 minutes.

At the end of my workout, I’d roll out the local muscle systems that received the most work. Lets say the workout was “nascar your plates” 5 RFT of 8 Squats at 225, 8 S2O at 135. I’d pvc rollout my thighs (5 Mins) and Lacrosse Ball my shoulders (3 Mins).

About 15 to 20 minutes after the workout I’d drink my recovery shake. I currently use Progenex Recovery. But substitute whatever low to medium sugar formula you like.

Before bed I’d take my second 1 oz serving of fish oil. having taken the first serving in the am. This is every day regardless of workout state.

If I was UNCOMFORTABLY sore the next day or the day after I’d consider icing. 2 applications of 7-10 minutes. At least 30 minutes away from any significant activity.

All told you need two products, BCAA’s and Fish Oil. You need 8 minutes to roll. 5 to stretch. 13 minutes at the end of the wod. Not insignificant but not too bad. If you were to postpone the roll and stretch it would STILL do you a lot of good.

These small commitments will go a long way towards better wods more often.

Your questions are welcome.


One comment

  1. This is great that you send this out.

    Alex Paen Broker in Charge Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage 910-540-4562

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