Updated: May 15, 2020
This week I am so excited to have gotten to team up with Steve Szilagyi for more input on WHY it is so important to prioritize recovery in our training.
Steve is a local strength and conditioning enthusiast! He began training the Lethbridge Hurricanes hockey team while completing his Bachelor AND Master Degrees in Kinesiology (that's the fancy word for Exercise Science essentially). He then started working with the Pronghorn athletics as well as the ASDC (Alberta Sport Development Center) in their programming. In total he has about 12 years of training experience ranging from athletes to the general population.
PLUS he is also an avid power-lifter himself and has learned first hand the importance of recovery in his own training.
Needless to say - he knows what he's talking about.
Below is a quick little Q & A that I did with Steve to get an idea on where he stands with recovery with training athletes.
Question 1| What does "recovery" mean to you?
"For me this encompasses all facets of what goes into training – physical, physiological, mental, and emotional. Recovery to me is about doing whatever it takes to have your body ready to perform at the highest/most optimal level – think supercompensation."
Question 2| Why do you think recovery is important?
"Recovery is important as it allows you to perform at a peak level. The literature shows a very clear reduction in injury and improvement in performance due to adequate recovery. For the general population, it may not be about operating at 100% all the time – but if you could walk around at 95%, train hard and walk out of the gym/off the field/etc. at 60%, employ recovery strategies and get back to around 95% consistently, wouldn’t you?! The flip side and what I think we see happen far too often is people will start at 95% and recover to 90%, then 87%, then 82% … and it is this continuous cycle which helps contribute to injury or greatly reduced performance. "
Question 3| How was recovery (or lack of recovery) impacted your health and fitness?
"Everyone always asks if I could go back and change one thing what would it be – it’s simple … recover better and make it a priority. I would spend 75% recovering and 25% training, not 95% training and 5% recovering. My mindset has shifted from recovery being used only when you need it (i.e. when you get hurt) to being the foundation on which a successful athlete is built. A lack of recovery used to mean I was training at a sub-optimal, or non-peak, level and I would continue to bury myself deeper with each session. This ultimately led to an increase in pain/injury and a decrease in performance. Now recovery is at the forefront to allow for me to train at that peak level, spend less time actually training as a result of this (efficiency!) and in less pain/with less injury. "
Question 4| What are your favourite recovery tools?
"Physical therapy – IMS, manual therapy, ultrasound, etc.
Myofascial and trigger point work with rollers, balls, etc.
Adequate and proper sleep
Nutrition and supplementation
Lots of walking – active recovery
Question 5| How do you build recovery into your schedule?
"I make it a priority now. Pre-training I spend time with warm-ups specific to what I will be doing that training session including a lot of prehab work (specifically for T-spine and hip mobility). Meals are prepped in advance with foods which don’t cause a lot of inflammation, I make sure my water intake is sufficient, I schedule physical therapy routinely as part of my recovery plan, make sure I get to sleep at a good time, etc. I block off small time periods during the day to make sure I can fit these recovery strategies in – I firmly believe if you just try to fit recovery in when you can it simply gets forgotten about and bumped down your priority list."
Question 6| Where do you think the health and fitness system can improve to help people recover
"Any time you read anything fitness-related it is all about the actual performance aspect of training. The industry really needs to provide more education on the benefits of recovery. People need to shift their mindset of industry professionals on the recovery side from “they’re just out for my money” to “they’re actually trying to help me avoid spending time on a treatment table.” Once folks commit to a good period of time recovering better/appropriately, their improved quality of life, longevity of their career, reduction of pain/rate of injury, and improved performance should be convincing enough."
There you have it! From the man himself! I promise I did not bias him or bribe him at all for those answers ;)
It was actually so cool to see how our visions for training and recovery aligned so well. (Go Steve! lol)
Hopefully that helped emphasize the importance of including recovery (good quality recovery) in a training program as an athlete (and as a coach working with athletes!). It's not just a physio thing - it's a strength and conditioning thing - it's a science thing. Recovery is KEY to optimizing performance. Don't skip it. Make it a priority.
As always if you have any questions feel free to leave them in the comments or message me!