How to Maximize Recovery for Better Training Sessions

Supplements and fitness gadgets are really easy to sell. “$50 for rock-hard abs and elite endurance? Sign me up!” But this episode aims to save you some money.

Working out stresses the body. It stresses your muscles and joints and nervous system. It uses energy that you have to replenish with food. It takes time for your body to return to neutral after training so you can be in good condition for your next session. Learning to recover effectively means you can be ready to great training more quickly and more reliably.

Ryan and Andy have tried all kinds of routines and practices, and this episode is about the surprisingly simple things that make a hundred times more difference than the gimmicks.

Stick it in your earhole and learn how to feel better and perform better by recovering more fully between sessions.

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Resources mentioned

Auto RegulationRelaxation RoutineRyan Holiday: Stillness is KeySpeed Up Fitness Recovery Time5 Quality Sleep Strategies to Feel Well-Rested and More Productive

Transcript of How to Maximize Recovery for Better Training Sessions

Andy: All right. Welcome to the Gerald’s Mechanical Bull Podcast.

Ryan: That reminds me of my days back in Kansas and frequenting those cowboy bars.

Andy: That’s pretty much all there is to do in Kansas, isn’t it?

Ryan: It is. That’s it. You just go out and tend to the cattle or the wheat and then you just go ride mechanical bulls and that’s it.

Andy: Right. So I think I’m kind of guessing that that’s how you got started in gymnastics, is that it was part of your rodeo clown training.

Ryan: It was. Yes.

Andy: Yeah.

Ryan: And so when they say vault, the vault in gymnastics in Kansas is actually just the mechanical bull. That’s how it is.

Andy: Oh?

Ryan: Yeah.

Andy: Cool.

Ryan: It’s kind of cool.

Andy: Excellent. So today we’re going to be talking about recovery. That was a good segue, right?

Ryan: Yeah. Yeah.

Andy: All right.

Ryan: Yeah. Did that on purpose. Yes.

Andy: Yes. So this is one of those things that everyone knows you need to recover from exercise. I mean, I need to recover for eating a pizza. I think we all know that different things we do, exercise and non-exercise have an impact on our energy and
the way we feel. And that it takes time to kind of return to zero, return to neutral after a lot of this stuff.

Andy: But there’s kind of like two camps in recovery when you’re looking at fitness and health. And the first is that you don’t really think about it and you just do your stuff and you work hard. You work hard every day or you work hard every time you work out or whatever.

Andy:The other side is that, “Oh my God, I’m afraid of overtraining. I need to buy this $50 glorified lacrosse ball to roll out all of my muscles. I have to have my pre-workout supplement. I have to have my post-workout supplement. I need to see my body worker three times a week. And I’ve also signed up for 19 online courses about mobility and recovery methods. Also, I’m going to the Wim Hof seminar next weekend and I’ve joined an infrared sauna and cryotherapy place that just opened down the road because I’m a huge biohacker.” So you can be a [inaudible 00:02:14] there’s [inaudible 00:02:19] side of this, but there’s not a [inaudible 00:02:28] today.

Ryan: I’ll add to that. That’ll give you. Really, you don’t have to worry about it.

Andy: [crosstalk 00:02:34] by the time you finish your optimal sleep routine, your billionaire morning routine-

Ryan: Yes. Warm-up, your 30 minute rolling out with the foam, the special foam roll that vibrates.

Andy: … Right. Right. Yeah. You pretty much do have 20 minutes left for the week to do your workout. It’s a good thing that there’s Tabatas though because you can do five Tabatas in a row and they’re perfect.

Ryan: Yeah. Yeah. Just [crosstalk 00:02:57].

Andy: All right. So yeah. Let’s talk about some of the things that we like doing for recovery, some of the things that we know work, some of the things that we know don’t work, and sort of how this fits into the GMB Method, how we work it into our programming and stuff. And yeah.

Ryan: All right. Yeah. Yeah. I think the first thing to look at if we’re looking at talking about the recovery side of things is, you’re probably not overtraining. And so that’s a big thing. I mean, unless you are a high level athlete… Well, and to be honest, if you are a high level athlete, you’re probably getting in your recovery and you’ve got a mesues and you’ve got somebody taking care of your food and everything too. So you’re probably fine with that.

Ryan: I just want to say that the majority of us are probably not overtraining necessarily. You could stand for a little bit of recovery, under recovered and I’m not talking about what Andy just talked about where you have to do all this other things. It pretty much just comes down to sleep and eating good food. I mean, we could sum up the entire podcast with just that, but let’s talk a bit more about that. So yeah.

Andy: Right. Well, let’s also back up and just mention overtraining real quick. This is something that does happen to people that are really working just too hard for too long. But the thing is the symptoms of overtraining are not sore muscles and tiredness.

Ryan: Right.

Andy: If you have sore muscles, that just means your body is properly metabolizing protein. That’s all that means.

Ryan: Yeah.

Andy: Okay?

Ryan: There’s other… Yeah. What were you going to say? Go ahead.

Andy: Well, I was going to say overtraining, usually, you’re going to feel like you’re coming down with a cold all the time.

Ryan: Yes. Right. Right. Yeah. Other factors over a long… Like a great example is me where I basically screwed up my nutrition. I wasn’t getting the food that I actually needed for the amount of stuff that I was doing and that was a good cause in there.

Ryan: Other thing is stress, and I’m not just talking about working out, you know, you’re looking at your job and other things going on in your life and just trying to push through, but just like what you said, Andy really, you’re starting to come down with a cold or you just, you don’t have that energy over time. And then maybe just take a look at what else is going on in your life and if you just need to actually take a little break, that could probably be all it is.

Andy: Right. Now, the other thing though, that often happens when people are new to hard training, and this is a lot of times what happens when people think they’re overtraining is that they’re actually just new to this and they need to ramp up gradually.

Ryan: Yes.

Andy: It doesn’t even mean you’re necessarily doing too much. It just means that your body has not yet developed the capacity to restore its energy quickly enough or to expend that much energy to convert the calories to energy quickly enough that you can do all those things.

Andy: And this is just something that if you haven’t been training and you start training, your body’s demands for energy are going to change. And it takes weeks or months to fully adapt to being a person who works out.

Andy: So if you’re just tired and you’ve just started, you’re not overtraining, you’re just adapting and the things that we’re going to discuss the rest of the episode will actually help you make that transition a lot more easily.

Ryan: Yup. Yup. Cool. Cool. Cool.

Andy: Okay. So let’s talk about what recovery, kind of, how we look at recovery and some of the things that you should be thinking about.

Ryan: Yeah. I like to look at things as different levels of recovery. So we’re not just talking about one particular thing, right? So if we want to get really deep, you can look at actually during the session. So for example, are you giving yourself enough time in between sets to make sure that you’re able to go and do the work that you need to do? And this is going to be different throughout that session.

Ryan: So for example, if you’re working on a particular skill, you want to make sure that you’re fresh for that next attempt. So in that terms, you’re looking at a micro view of actual recovery in the sense that you want to make sure that you’re giving yourself a long enough time to be able to do that next attempt.

Ryan: Then if you’re looking at, for example, post-session, so this could be immediately after your session. And I’m not just talking about downing your protein and things like that. I’m talking like, are you allowing yourself to actually step away from that session in order to be able to start that recovery? So that could be looking at the leak of the session and whatnot. So a lot of different things looking at post.

Ryan: You can also then be looking at in between sessions. And so what I’m talking here is not exactly after the session, but are you getting in enough sleep? Are you giving yourself enough time to recover between these sessions? And so that’s another thing or not even do you need to, but are you looking at what else is going on in your life?

Ryan: So let’s say that you’re a martial artist and you have your martial arts class that’s going to be happening at 5:00 PM. If you get in a super hard session at 3:00 PM, hitting it just as hard as you possibly can, you can’t expect to show up for your martial art class and be 100% to participate in that class.

Ryan: So are you giving yourself enough time in between each activity that you’re doing to allow for that recovery so that you can be able to do the things that you’re wanting? So a lot of different ways of looking at this, but it’s also looking at other different factors in your life. So we’re looking at physical level, a mental level. You’re looking at lifestyle factors.

Ryan: It’s going to be different for a 22 year old who has all the time in the world and maybe it doesn’t even, maybe just has a part-time job compared to a father who is working all day long and just trying to get a session in the evening. So things like that as well as nutrition. So there’s a lot of different things that we’re going to be talking about with this.

Andy: Right. So I mean, I think a lot of the exercise-related stuff, a lot of that really just comes down to having a good program.

Ryan: Exactly. Exactly.

Andy: Like making sure that you have different levels of intensity and different demands on your nervous system at different times in the week, making sure you have recovery days, making sure that you have adequate rest in your session and that kind of thing. And then also knowing that your training is integrated well into your life, which we’ve talked about several times on the show.

Andy: And as we also mentioned occasionally, anyone who uses any of our programs, our coaches, our support team is almost all certified trainers aside from one person. So you can always email our support team and get very, very qualified answers to questions about how to arrange these things in your life so that it is intelligently kind of incorporated and is going to give you the recovery you need. So I think a lot of what you need to do is actually, it just goes into having a good program and then integrating that well into your life, right?

Ryan: Yeah.

Andy: And if you do that, you’re pretty much three quarters of the way there.

Ryan: And I was just going to say that. I actually shot a video yesterday about… Someone asked me a question about what are the workouts that I do throughout the week? And a lot of people look at it as a workout where I prefer to call it a session because I might only have these two hard sessions that I do during the week and the rest of the things that I do, you can actually look at those more of like an active recovery.

Ryan: Yes, I’m doing things, but it’s actually aiding in the recovery of the other things that I’m looking at doing. I’m still moving my body and doing things, but I think it also, that reframe, I think is also very important. And looking at it in terms of changing the way that we say workout to more adequately and more accurately maybe look at the way that we’re actually using our body throughout the week.

Andy: Right. Because-

Ryan: Yeah, coming back to the programming and having a smart program. Because if you just think about I need to get a workout in, then you’re just going to work out. And let’s change that. Let’s change the way that we look at things and instead say, “All right, what is the purpose of doing this?”

Ryan: Looking at for the week, maybe only having a couple of those hard sessions and then the rest of the time really focusing on the other stuff, helping us to get towards our why. It all comes back to the smart programming just like you said.

Andy: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah, definitely. So cool. So let’s talk about some specific things that we use, specific methods that have worked for you, worked for me, and sort of how they are built into our staff. I mean, first off I just want to give a shout out to our sponsor N.O.-Xplode because that’s pretty much the secret. Sorry.

Ryan: So I was [crosstalk 00:12:04] not laugh, but I almost lost it there. I’m glad I was drinking my coffee, so.

Andy: Yeah. Let’s just go on and say, for our favorite recovery methods, if your first sort of go-to idea, when you think of trying to recover better from exercise is, “What pill can I take?” I want to let you know just at the start of this section of the show that you are on the wrong path, okay?

Andy: There’s a ton of different things on the market to help you recover, and more than likely, you don’t need 99% of them. Like Ryan said, it’s nutrition, it’s sleep, it’s lifestyle, it’s intelligent programming. There’s lots of talk about things like these infrared saunas and like exotic machinery that you stand on and it vibrates your body or something, compression pajamas with silver thread, and Himalayan salt eye masks and shit.

Andy: Like if you are at 99.99% and you’re trying to get to 100% efficiency with your training, that might be just what you need. Like if you’re Tom Brady or if you are like some multimillion-dollar valued athlete at the top of your game, right? But most of us can get a lot more mileage out of much simpler, much cheaper strategies, okay? So starting with the obvious, let’s talk about food.

Ryan: Right. Food of course, obviously, is going to be a very important… I’m not going to get into debating on which diet is the best diet. I do feel though that spending some time to figure out what works for you is going to be very beneficial. And I’m talking over the course of your life. I eat differently than Andy, Andy eats differently than Jarlo. There’s a reason for that. [crosstalk 00:14:03].

Andy: And we’ve all changed what we eat at different stages. And this is important too.

Ryan: Absolutely.

Andy: Experiment and know what works for you now.

Ryan: Right. And this is another thing and hopefully by now if you’ve listened to the things here in GMB, you’ll know that I’m not going to say anything that I haven’t done. So I’m not going to talk about, for example, Wim Hof. I’m not going to be talking about a particular exercise protocol or something like that without having gone through this or a specific period of time. So, “Oh, I did it for a week and it doesn’t work.” You see that? That’s BS, right? Okay?

Andy: It’s total bullshit, yeah.

Ryan: Right? So me talking about food and the things that I’ve done, I’ve spent considerable time, and I’m talking like not just a month but like three to-

Andy: Several months, yeah.

Ryan: … six months on doing these particular things. I found what works for me right now in my life. So this is another thing that we need to discuss, is the fact that it is going to change depending on where you are in your life. But if we are looking at food, we can just keep it super simple.

Ryan: If you’re really looking at helping in terms of performance or recovery, eating Kentucky Fried Chicken, McDonald’s and things like that every day is not going to help. It’s just we know that. Now, does that mean that you should never eat those stuff? No. Hey, if you want to eat that stuff, your prerogative. Enjoy it. Just understand that it might change your particular workout or recovery that day, and that’s fine, okay?

Andy: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ryan: So it all comes back to you. Just understand that there’s different ways that you can look at food. Similar to what we talked about with recovery, you’ve got the pre-workout, okay? And I’m not talking about supplements or anything here. I’m talking about the actual food, kale. But if you eat a heavy meal 30 minutes before you go work out, you know it’s not going to be helping you. Okay?

Andy: Right.

Ryan: Post-workouts, the same. Sometimes of course you can get away with it to be honest. Like right now with me, after a super heavy session, that’s the time where I’m just going to chow down because I’m hungry. You can also be looking at in-between sessions. If that works for you, great.

Ryan: I have never been the kind of person that has eaten or had a protein shake or a shake during a session. I’ve never done that. I mean, I will say maybe it might help me, but I just don’t want to do it. And the reason why is because the majority of the time I’m doing something that involves me being upside down and I can just see that upsetting my stomach, and me whatever, okay?

Ryan: So if this is something that you feel is going to help you, then great. Stick with it. But just understand that this is a very personal thing and it’s going to be different for each person. Food though, if you eat crap, it’s going to mess with your recovery and everything like that. That’s really about all I can say with that. Yeah.

Andy: Yeah. I would just say there’s all kinds of different theories. Some people think fat is bad, some people think the routine is bad, or it’ll destroy your kidneys. While some people think the carbohydrates are bad. And dear listener, whichever one of those things you think is the devil, good on you.

Ryan: Yeah. yeah. I will say-

Andy: Yeah, whatever.

Ryan: … I will say, if I can interrupt you just a quick?

Andy: Sure.

Ryan: In my personal, where I am right now because people are going to ask, is I do intermittent fasting. That’s what I do. I’ve found that for recovery for me and for what I want out of it, it’s not just recovery, but I’m also looking at other factors, intermittent fasting for me is just the way I’ve done it and I’ve gone back and forth between things, I’ve tested it out, I’ve done the other ways of eating, and then I’ve always come back to intermittent fasting.

Ryan: I tend to… Right now, recently, I’m actually experimenting on going a little longer. And so rather than doing like a 16/8, I do an 18/6. But the other thing too is the particular fruit I eat. It’s not that I’m strict all the time. I want to be able to enjoy these other foods. And I just know that in terms of recovery, in terms of performance, and everything that I want to be doing, I’ve found that that helps me. And I’m just careful about what I eat after my sessions. And that’s about it. So it’s pretty simple for me.

Andy: Cool. Yeah, I think that it’s important to just know what works for you. Like we’ve both had times where we’ve tried to go light on, well, probably all three of the macronutrients, but here’s the thing, you can’t cut out fat, carbs, and protein. You’ll have nothing left. So you’ve got to choose to eat something.

Andy: Just find what works for you. And the other thing is, like you mentioned, not having things during a workout. And this is something that for me, I found like I don’t even like to drink water during a session.

Ryan: Yeah, exactly. I know a lot of people like that. Right.

Andy: Yeah. I like to make sure I’m good and hydrated beforehand, but if I’m training I don’t like the feeling of even water sloshing around in my belly. And part of that is because I generally am semi-fasted when I train and so I can feel the water, right?

Ryan: Right.

Andy: It’s in there, right?

Ryan: Definitely, definitely.

Andy: It’s not absorbed by food.

Ryan: Yeah, that’s a good point. And both of us work out, practice, do whatever you want to call it in a fasted state. That includes, for example, when I go for my walks. Now, I do have water with me of course because a lot of times the walks that I go on are at least two hours long.

Ryan: So I mean, depending on what you’re doing. But I totally agree with you there. Just make sure that you’re hydrated well before you start your sessions and do what you need to do in order to help you get through that session, so.

Andy: Yeah, cool.

Ryan: Let’s talk about bath. Bathing. Something that I don’t really do, I don’t believe in it.

Andy: Right. I mean, this is really one of the greatest cons of the 20th and 21st centuries is, is this idea that washing ourselves is… I’m not even going to say. Well, hygiene is important, but beyond that, baths are something that you can use for recovery. There is a lot of things that people have passed around as axiomatic for a long time and then things that have been debunked.

Andy: I read a thing a few months ago that said that Epsom salts in the bath does basically the same as nothing in terms of a recovery. And that may be true when you think about it. I don’t know, can you absorb more magnesium salts through your skin than you can by eating it? And does it get into your bloodstream or your muscles and does it do anything? Who knows?

Andy: But what I can tell you is that after I have had a hard training session, a hot bath feels really damn nice before I go to bed. And it does help me relax. And this is one of the threads that you’ll find with a lot of the things that we talk about. Foam rolling massage, baths, different kinds of therapies and stuff. A lot of them, really what they’re trying to get you to do is just to relax.

Andy: And so if you can train yourself to, even just on heavy training days, even if it’s just two or three times a week, before bed, take a nice relaxing hot bath, turn off the lights, make it quiet, play some whale sounds if that’s what you’re into, whatever. Yeah. Yeah. Whatever works for you.

Andy: But if you can get 10 minutes to just relax in the bath, you relax your mind, relax your body, let the tension come out of your muscles, that is one of the things that works for me. And I know it for you to Ryan, is to be able to just fully relax the body. A bath is one of the things that has just proven itself really, really easy and consistently efficacious, you know?

Ryan: Yeah. One thing, I mean, that I don’t get enough chances to do really is, we live in Japan and go into the onsen hot baths. Just oh! Amazing! The love of my life as well just loves them. And the thing about that is I love is depending on which place you go to, they’re going to have different themes, if you will. I mean, the water is basically different, but you can have very, very, very hot bath, you can then go to a cold bath if you want, and back and forth, contrasting baths.

Ryan: And the thing recently, I’ve been taking a cold shower after all of my bath and showers and things like that. It’s not the Wim Hof or anything like that. It’s just something that I’m trying out and coming back to. And I found that that’s working well for me right now. When the temperature drops, I might not be doing that anymore. We’ll see. But the thing is-

Andy: Yeah. I take cold showers in the summer, but I am not man enough to do it in the winter.

Ryan: … Yeah. I’m still sticking with it. And so I’ll get in the bath and it’s not so bad right now. We’ll see. But again, the main thing is what Andy just said. And that is to be able to relax, be able to do that and see if that helps you. Yeah.

Andy: Yeah. So, yeah, take a bath, relax. It’s good for you. The other thing that is completely free, that is an essential recovery method for everyone, sleep. Good sleep. Get good sleep. We’ve talked about this before. We did a whole show on it. We have an article on the website. Ryan’s recommended a book about it.

Ryan: Yeah.

Andy: We’ve linked copiously to our affiliate scam promotions with the supplements. Just again. Sorry, sorry. But sleep. Sleep is an… Well, it’s not necessarily easy to get, but it is a thing that you do every day, so you may as well do it well and get enough of it so that it is actually helping you recover more fully.

Ryan: That’s good. Yeah. Let’s talk about active recovery.

Andy: Okay. So none of-

Ryan: Let’s get that.

Andy: … none of these pansy passive recovery methods anymore.

Ryan: Oh, hell no!

Andy: Now we’re getting into the real shit.

Ryan: Yeah. I don’t want to sleep. Come on now.

Andy: All right. So active recovery, which brand of lacrosse ball do you personally prefer?

Ryan: Well, I’m glad you brought this up. Now is my opportunity to tell you about my new branded lacrosse ball set I’ve got coming out in the Ryan Method, and it’s on sale right now for only $33. So it’s a steal and whatever. It doesn’t matter everyone.

Andy: Yeah.

Ryan: Just get a ball, roll around on it, okay? Jarlo actually did great. I remember it’s in focus flexibility, right?

Andy: Yes.

Ryan: Where he goes over lacrosse ball stuff. And I’ll tell you what, I remember… I can’t tell you the exact date because all the dates are all the same for me. Like when we first started GMB, I remember Jarlo gave me this lacrosse ball and he’s like, “Hey man, you need to use that.”

Ryan: And he did that with his nose. He sniffed and then it was done. And if Jarlo tells you to do something, you do it. So I still have that lacrosse ball and that’s really all I do. Just roll around on that. That’s it. Find something to do.

Andy: Yeah. And so people know we don’t necessarily really have, on our website, we don’t have a tutorial for lacrosse ball rolling because, and this is again Jarlo’s, our professional physical therapist instructions were find the places that it hurts and do it more.

Ryan: Yes. He said, what was it?

Andy: And I think that’s really all you need.

Ryan: But it was good. It was like anything. It’s simple, right? It’s like, “Okay, find the place that hurts as long as it’s not on the bone or on top of the joint.”

Andy: Right.

Ryan: “Just hang out in that spot until I starts feeling better-”

Andy: Until it hurts less.

Ryan: “… and then go and find another spot.” And I was like, “I can do that.”

Andy: Yeah.

Ryan: Yeah.

Andy: So you’ve just learned the most important basics of trigger point therapy and self myofascial release.

Ryan: There you go.

Andy: Congratulations. Now, let’s talk about manual massage. Now, I’m sure that somebody somewhere has scientifically proven that it doesn’t help at all. But again, I don’t really give a shit because it feels good and it helps me relax.

Ryan: Yeah. I just got a massage on Sunday and I was like, “Aw, love it.” I don’t get massages as often as I used though. I mean, I’d say like once a month now really if I go. And even then it’s kind of like, “Oh, I’ve got a little extra time. Oh, holy
crap! I’m going to go real quick.” And yeah, it’s not like it’s scheduled actually into my work week.

Andy: Right. It’s one of those things where just this is kind of the way modern life works, is scheduling a one hour massage takes two hours.

Ryan: Yes. Exactly.

Andy: Right? Because you’ve got to get there and then you’ve got to get from there to wherever you’re going next. And so if you’re busy it’s a hard thing to do. But I mean, when I was a training very seriously and getting at least a massage a week, it definitely helped.

Ryan: Oh, absolutely. Yeah.

Andy: So let’s say that you don’t have time for a massage and you can’t afford Ryan’s $33 lacrosse ball. Again, just kidding.

Ryan: It’s a video man! Come on.

Andy: So walking. Walking is something that Ryan and I are both big fans of. I know we just lost everybody under 40 in the audience right there because you guys are thinking, “Walking? What the hell is wrong with you?”

Ryan: What thing.

Andy: “I thought you were bad asses. I thought this was like a fitness method. I thought I was going to learn how to do the iron cross and do handstand push-ups.” And it turns out Ryan doesn’t do any of that stuff anymore. All he trains for is walking.

Ryan: Yeah. I just train for my walking because once I hit 40 I decided that I just can’t do rings anymore. So I just gave up. And that’s a joke by the way. I still do rings and all that stuff. But walking though, yes. Walking, I think really is one of the best things that we can do. And we’re not just talking about setting one hour walk at this particular pace or… No.

Andy: No.

Ryan: No. Not even that. We’re just talking like, walk more, period. And there’s a couple of reasons for this. And of course, yes, it’s going to promote better heart health and getting outdoors and things like that.

Ryan: But to be perfectly honest, if you can get out and walk and just don’t use your headphones or anything like that, be with yourself and just use it as a way to be still, if you will, you can think about stuff, it’s really going to help in terms of relaxation and therefore, aid in recovery.

Ryan: And so really that’s kind of what we’re getting at with this walking thing. Don’t think of it as a workout or anything like that.

Andy: No, no, no, no.

Ryan: Yeah.

Andy: You’re just moving. And the good thing is, is you are, like after a leg day, after squats man, moving your legs through a natural range of motion is really important to you. If you have done a heavy leg workout, you know the next day, man, your legs feel like trees, right? They’re so stiff. And just walking, moving the knees, moving the ankles, moving the hips. This is stuff that is good for you.

Andy: I worked really hard on kind of setting up my current lifestyle. I have the place I live and we have a lot of stuff around us that we can walk to. My office is a 12 to 13 minute walk from home. My gym is a 13 to 16 minute walk from home or the office. So all of the places that I’m going every time in a week are at least like a 10 minute walk, sometimes up to 15 minutes.

Andy: And I have a selection of cafes where I’ll go and get coffee that are… I know the distances and the times so I can very reliably set myself up when I make my schedule for the day or for the week to get in like 30 minutes to an hour of walking a day just based on where I’m going to be going and what I’m going to be doing. And I think that this is something that like, if you’re thinking, “I don’t have time to take a walk,” well, this is one of the things you can do, is find ways to get more walking in.

Andy: If you have to drive to where you work, try to find someplace that you can walk for lunch, something like that. You can find ways to get a little bit and it doesn’t have to be a dedicated, very long walk. But if you can build it in where you have sort of dependable short walks that you can fit into your weekly schedule, then that’s something that you don’t have to think about anymore and you are getting some walking in.

Andy: This is great for active recovery, great for your joints, great for your posture, your spatial awareness, your balance, and just being aware of your body if you bring that intention into your walk.

Ryan: Yeah, absolutely. Walking, I got to say, has become one of my most favorite things and I don’t know. Yeah. I just, for all the reasons you just mentioned and even more, just absolutely, I think everyone should do more of it and [crosstalk 00:31:22].

Andy: Bonus, if you can do it around trees or ocean or a river or something-

Ryan: Yeah. Even better.

Andy: It’s way better.

Ryan: Yeah.

Andy: Yeah. All right. So again, another thing that I’m sure there’ve been doctoral thesis written about the fact that stretching does not help recovery. Again, I don’t care because it works.

Ryan: It works.

Andy: Stretching those stiff legs, you are gradually relaxing them, putting them in a position that you wouldn’t have normally, and hanging out there, and you are, again, relaxing that tension and stiffness out of the muscles that are tight, that need to relax after your session. If it’s nothing more than relaxation, then yes, I think stretching is great.

Ryan: Yeah, and I want to say too, this doesn’t need to be a routine. Yeah.

Andy: No.

Ryan: It’s similar to what we were talking about earlier in terms of moving away from the concept of that workout and thinking that it has to be a certain way. Reframe the way you’re looking at things. Same with walking. Instead of thinking, “Oh, I got
to go on a walk now.” And just look at it as a way just to get out and use as active recovery. Stretching as well.

Ryan: If you are sitting at your desk or something like that and you’re just kind of like, “Wow, I feel a little tight here,” just kind of move your body around a little bit. Stretch, light stretching, and whatnot. That throughout the day can be part of your active recovery. I don’t even want to say routine, but what you do for that. So again, I just want to say it doesn’t need to be a routine, okay?

Andy: Right.

Ryan: Yup.

Andy: And the thing is, I mean, we also, we’ve made tons of routines at GMB and stuff and I think routines are useful. But then ideally over time, you practice the routines when you’re trying to figure out what to do. And then you get to the point where you can take the parts of the routine that are helpful, leave the other parts that don’t really do it for you. And you can just use them whenever they feel good and you don’t need the routines as much anymore.

Andy: Just like everything, the routines are training wheels to be able to have these things really integrated into your lifestyle. And so this is something that like, I remember, Al Kavadlo said on a video even years ago and he was like, “I don’t
really have a training plan. I don’t have a program. I don’t do anything.” But then a lot of people were like, “Well, maybe I should just not have a plan either.”

Andy: But Al then, he pointed out that he spent 20 years following very strict training plans and he knows what works. He knows what he needs to do and he doesn’t need that anymore. And I think that that’s something that just because we’re saying that you don’t necessarily need a routine, it doesn’t mean routines are bad.

Ryan: Right. Right.

Andy: Routines are how you get to the point where you don’t need routines anymore.

Ryan: Absolutely. And to come back to what I was saying in terms of that, if we’re looking at simply recovery throughout the day, what I’m saying is, if you do need to set aside some time to be able to get that in, that’s great. But also think about, you know, “Oh, I’m going to do this later, so I don’t need to do it now.” Rather than doing that just, I mean, if you’re feeling tired, just do it right there, you know? So.

Andy: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ryan: Yeah. Some other things that can help. Let’s look at this. I kind of mentioned this before, but like when you’re going on a walk and I mentioned like chilling out or something like that. But even beyond that, just hanging out on the couch and kind of turning your brain off, it’s a great thing. I actually need to do more of that. Sounds kind of funny.

Ryan: But I mean, I do because you and I both, it’s like we work and then we’ll do our sessions and then it’s just, you go home and you’re with the kids and it’s just everything, and then all of a sudden it’s just like time for bed. So there are times where really just hanging on the couch or are just taking a nap, or something like that, just taking that time just to be quiet and still.

Ryan: And I want to plug this book… Not even plug it, but just mention it because it just came out and I read it. I think it’s a really good book by Ryan Holiday. I’ve always liked all the stuff that he’s written. And his new book is of course it’s, I think it’s just called Stillness actually. And check that out.

Ryan: But what he’s talking about is just what we’re talking about right now. Taking the opportunity to step away from having your headphones on or watching TV or something and then just be quiet and just chill. And I think this can be a huge thing and so really, really helps me at least in terms of the recovery process.

Andy: Definitely. I mean, this is something that is I think really important to understand is just that all of these, like the impacts of training, all of these that you do to your body when you train, a lot of it is basically, it’s a kind of stress, you know?

Ryan: Yeah.

Andy: And so mental stresses as well impact our recovery from training and our ability to actually have a good training session. So yeah, being able to just chill out, turn off your mind, and relax mentally is going to reduce your overall stress and your physical stress as well. And this is going to… it impacts hormones, it impacts your sleep quality, impacts all of these things that are then going to help your body return, like I said earlier, to that kind of neutral set point where you can actually get in your best work at your next training session.

Andy: And so that’s what we’re talking about, is like all of these things that take your sort of energy level below neutral, right? Whether it be physical or mental or otherwise, these are the things that are going to impair your ability to have a good
session. So returning to neutral, and definitely just chilling out and, being able to reduce that stress is a huge factor there.

Ryan: Yeah. Yeah.

Andy: Right?

Ryan: Yeah.

Andy: So the last thing is let’s talk about deloads. This is something that periodization is well known in strength training communities. It’s something that you don’t really hear a lot about in the movement world, I guess. I don’t know.

Ryan: You don’t really. Come to think of it. I mean, with the program you do and you might, but it’s not a huge topic, which I think actually needs to be looked at a little deeper.

Andy: Right. And I mean, it’s not that it’s a secret or anything, but it’s also one of those things that novice and intermediate trainees tend to underestimate the importance of, and something that anyone who’s advanced is very, very conscious of taking time to deload because they’ve done it and they know that it’s really important. But you’ll hear a lot of people think, “Oh, I don’t want to lose my gains if I take a week off.” Well… ?

Ryan: You’re gonna have better gains if you take a freaking week off. I mean, and that’s just the thing. And that’s the difference between what you were saying between person who’s just starting off and worried about gains compared to a person who’s actually done those things.

Andy: Right. And again, a deload, it does not necessarily mean that you do nothing. It means that you do things that are focused on recovery. You might actually still be working out, but just with less intensity. And we have a really good and complete article on this. If you search for GMB and autoregulation on the Googles, you will find it and we’ll link to it in the notes for the show.

Andy: But read that if you want to understand some of the science and the technique behind deloading and periodizing the way that you work out because it’s something that used to be very complicated and technical and there are very, very complex ways that you can program this if athletics are the only thing in your life. But for most people it really just means every few weeks, take a light week.

Ryan: Yes. No, that’s great. Exactly. Yeah. And so that’s… I do it. I love it. I always look forward to my deload week. And I’m doing something like you mentioned, but it’s just not at the intensity that I was doing the other things before.

Andy: Right. And is this something that is pretty core to the GMB Method too, is this idea of just sort of monitoring your intensity of your sessions and how hard you’re having to work to do your movements well. And so we actually have our ratings, self-ratings. And this is also covered in an autoregulation article.

Andy: After every session, we rate the amount of effort that you have to put in. And this is kind of based on a thing called the Borg Scale, which the rating of perceived exertion, which has been shown to track pretty closely to a heart rate after you spend some time learning how to sort of dial in your self-assessment.

Andy: But we do this because you need to know how hard you have to work to do what you’re doing well. And you can tell when you’ve had a day that you’ve had to work at your very hardest to do your session, that your next session, the quality is not going to be as high if you’re not recovered, right?

Andy: So this is just something that’s sort of based into the way that we do things, and in most of our programs we teach how to do this at the end of every session, how to rate your effort and your quality so that you can tell is this getting easier or am I not being able to improve as quickly as I could?

Ryan: Yeah. And I got to apologize. You can probably hear Bree slurping her water right now, but this also has-

Andy: Got to stay hydrated.

Ryan: … Got to stay hydrated. That’s right. This also has to do with not just after the session that you’re doing, but actually leading into the session as well as during the session and looking at autoregulating and making sure that you’re focusing on your needs during that workout based upon your energy level and the quality of your form like you mentioned. So yeah, read that article. Lots of good stuff in there. We’ve talked about a lot of stuff today.

Andy: Yeah.

Ryan: Looking at recovery, I think really if you just want to bring it back to anything, just look at your lifestyle. I think that’s really the major thing that we’re looking at in terms of, we talked about food, we talked about sleep, we talked about environmental factors. Where are you in your life right now? Again, I mentioned, if you’re a dad and you have a newborn, obviously, it’s going to be a lot different compared to someone who is living their best life as a bachelor, you know?

Andy: Right. So. And I mean, I just want to, just be real clear, there’s a lot of things we didn’t talk about, and I mean, some things we kind of alluded to jokingly as well, but I want to say like, if you’re considering getting an at-home infrared sauna and you’re not getting eight hours of sleep a night, don’t waste your money. If you are-

Ryan: That’s the-

Andy: … Yeah.

Ryan: … This is the key point. Keep going there. Yeah. This is the key point in everything. Right. Yeah. Yeah.

Andy: If you’re considering a fancy compression suit or whatever, whatever fancy kind of supplement or gadget or thing that you’re thinking, This is the thing. This is the edge I need to really help my recovery.” If you’re gonna put a ball on the end of what is the reciprocating saw, so to replicate one of those massage delios or what… I don’t even know what people are doing these days.

Andy: Whatever the kids are doing in the CrossFits gyms. Like whatever gadget you’re thinking of buying for your recovery, maybe defer that for one month and think about your food, your sleep, and what you’re doing in between your sessions. And I think you can save yourself a lot of money and a lot of time and frustration if you really put your energy on those fundamentals.

Ryan: Oh yeah. And this goes way beyond recovery. If you look at food, do the same, okay? If you’re supplementing right now, okay, great. But let’s first take a look at the actual whole foods that you’re eating, okay? Make sure that you’re… If you’re looking at your workout sessions as well, okay?

Ryan: Rather than adding a bunch of stuff in there, we’ve already talked about this in another podcast, look at what your meat and potatoes of your workout is. And recovery is the same. So instead of adding a bunch of stuff in, before you do that, take a look at what you’re currently doing in terms of your sleep and your food and your lifestyle, and decisions, so.

Andy: Right. Absolutely.

Ryan: Bonus tip. All right. We’re gonna finish up here.And we talked a lot about sleep. I’m just going to challenge all of you to do one thing. I’ll do this myself too. I’ll do this this week. Go to bed 30 minutes earlier than you normally do for one week. That’s it. That’s it.

Andy: All right.

Ryan: And 30 minutes, try it out. See, it’s going to change your life and then you can buy my lacrosse balls for $33. They’re awesome.

Andy: I’m going to have to explain to my wife why I’m going to bed at 6:30 but.

Ryan: All right. Thanks for listening everybody.

Andy: Cheers. Bye-bye.

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