Recently I had the pleasure of speaking to the Nation Development Coach for the Australian Boxing team, Don Abnett. One of the topics we discussed at length was recovery methods.
Recovery is so important in a proper training regime. Exercise doesn't build up the body, it breaks it down. In your recovery period your body rebuilds and this is when improvements occur. Quick recovery is essential to maintaining a proper training load. If you don't recover properly you will not be able to train with as much frequency as required. Also the body needs to be fully rested to get the most out of each training session.
There are many different recovery methods that get thrown around the gym. From ice baths to hot shower, and from swimming to light running.
Don stressed that although all of these methods have their merits, they only account for 5% of the recovery process. There are three core elements to recovery:
- Rest (Inactivity)
- Proper diet
The amount of rest needed by a person is highly specific to their body and training requirements. It is recommended to get at least 7-9 hours of sleep per night. With a higher than average training load this needs to be closer to 9 hours than 7. Rest also includes inactivity between rest periods. You need to allow time for your body to recover.
Diet is also very important. The best diet is a balanced one! There are many fad diets, and every diet claims to be a one size fits all. However the most important thing to remember when selecting a diet is that everybody is different. The diet that works for the world champion may adversely affect your training. You need to consult a professional to decide what diet is best for you. But in the mean time we can default to the Australian Dietary Guidelines, which recommends a balanced diet.
The above methods make up the majority of training but they do not make other recovery methods such as ice baths and stretching redundant. They may make up a small portion of the recovery process but they still work. It is best to combine all of these to work out what is best for you.