Seven Tips To Ensure Optimal Recovery From Intense Training and Competition

By Poliquin Group™ Editorial Staff

A simple way to perform better is to make sure you’re recovering optimally from intense training or competition. If you don’t take advantage of the recovery period, subsequent performance may be negatively affected, and you stand to lose a lot in terms of muscle and strength development.

The recovery period is when your body repairs damaged muscle and connective tissue to make you stronger. At the same time, research shows that intense training, and particularly sports training that is typified by collisions such as rugby, judo, lacrosse, or football will cause an inflammatory hormone response with higher cortisol, lower testosterone, and reduced neuromuscular function.

The skewed testosterone-to-cortisol ratio and decreased power and strength can last for as long as 60 hours after a competition or training, during which, you need to actively pursue recovery.

For example, a recent study tested hormone response and neuromuscular strength in elite male rugby players after a competition. Results showed that cortisol increased from baseline by 56 percent and by 59 percent at 12 and 36 hours, respectively. Cortisol was still elevated by 34 percent at 60 hours. Testosterone declined by 26 percent and by 15 percent at 12 and 36 hours, respectively, and was still down 8 percent lower at 60 hours.

Researchers suggest this poor anabolic environment is caused by the combination of large metabolic stress, muscle damage, negative energy balance, and depleted glycogen reserves from an intense competition.

Naturally, a very intense weight training program could cause similar physiological stress, making this study relevant to serious recreational trainees as well.

In addition, power output was reduced by 7 percent for 36 hours and returned to baseline at 60 hours post-match. The players reported increased mood disturbance at 12 hours post-match, but this had dissipated by 36 hours. Low mood is related to the stress hormone response and possibly to a high degree of muscle damage and soreness.

Take away the following points from this study so that you maximize recovery:

1) Whether you are simply training at a high intensity/volume or are competing, allow for at least 60 hours of recovery between intense workouts. Be aware that the study showed recovery is somewhat individualized: At 60 hours 7 of the players’ peak power output had not fully recovered, and 9 players still had a decreased T/C ratio.

2) Competing in a sport that is combative or has repeated collisions likely requires longer recovery than non-combative sports.

3) Ensure adequate glycogen stores and protein consumption pre-competition to decrease muscle damage and optimize energy stores. Also, eat a high-protein, healthy fat meal a few hours before competing or training.

4) Maximize protein synthesis and tissue repair by using 20 grams whey or another supplemental protein during training. When glycogen stores are depleted a high-quality carb supplement can help to support recovery. Research shows that supplementing with protein and carbs can lead to a lower cortisol response and speed the replenishment of glycogen stores.

5) Avoid alcohol and NSAID pain killers post-competition because both will significantly delay recovery and inhibit tissue healing in the long run.

6) Get extra antioxidants in the form of berries and green vegetables. Research shows blueberries can decrease muscle soreness after intense eccentric exercise. In addition, the amino acids taurine and glutamine may be beneficial, as will vitamin C, which can help clear cortisol.

7) Take a few grams of fish oil after competition because it has also been found to reduce muscle soreness after intense training.

References – West, D., et al. The Neuromuscular Function, Hormonal, and Mood Responses to a Professional Rugby Union Match. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 2013. Published Ahead of Print.


I love to have a vast variety of workouts no matter where I am or how I feel without depending on a gym. Choosing an outdoor  environment only enhances the experience. Here is one of my recent workouts that I wanted to share with you. Enjoy!

My Favorite Hip Opener Exercises

Chris shares his favorite hip opener exercises.

Metabolism Boosting Tips to Optimize Your Weight

Some Great Tips Here:

By Dr. Mercola

Do you feel like your metabolism is stuck in first gear? Is your body refusing to let go of that stubborn extra body fat, in spite of making good dietary choices and exercising? Fear not—there are a few simple tricks you can try that are backed by solid nutrition science.Your lifestyle can be “tweaked” in a variety of ways, from what you eat to when you eat, how and when you exercise, and other daily habits such as sleephygiene and stress management. ALL of these play a role in your metabolism

People today move much less and consume more inflammatory foods than they did hundreds and thousands of years ago, and this takes a toll on your metabolism.

A recent article in Time1 makes some excellent metabolism-boosting suggestions, and we will take a look at several of these in detail. But first, let’s examine one of the most common causes of metabolic sluggishness: chronic inflammation.If Your Metabolic Engine Has Stalled, It Could Be Inflammation

If your metabolism is stalled

—or stuck in reverse—it would be helpful to look at what might be keeping your body in a state of low-level inflammation. It’s well established that weight gain is often a sign of chronic low-level inflammation, and frequently this is related to the foods you are eating.

Food sensitivities can lead you down the road toward insulin and leptin resistance and can seriously hamper your metabolism.2 When you have a food sensitivity or allergy, your body feels “attacked” by a food rather than nourished by it.

Inflammatory molecules are then produced and circulated to protect you from your body’s perceived threat, causing you to decrease insulin and leptin sensitivity. Your body is under stress so it uses its resources differently. This is typically accompanied by a gut dysbiosis, an imbalance in the microorganisms in your digestive tract.

In addition to food allergies and sensitivities, inflammation can be caused by a number of different factors, including poor sleep, environmental toxins, stress, and other factors. Even overexercising may stall your metabolism by triggering inflammation, pain, water retention, etc.

The foods most likely to be pro-inflammatory are junk foods and highly processed foods, grains, foods high in sugar (especially fructose), and GMOs. For help with dietary strategies, please refer to my Optimized Nutrition Plan. However, many people have food sensitivities to what would normally be consideredhealthy foods, such as gluten, nuts, and dairy products.

It’s important to not rule out the possibility that you may be having an unhealthy reaction to a “healthy” food. These food sensitivities can be very subtle, so they can sometimes be challenging to identify, requiring some trial and error.

Whey Protein Fuels Muscle Growth and Repair

The featured article suggests that whey protein may be effective for kicking up your metabolism, and I couldn’t agree more. According to Paul Arciero, a professor in the Health and Exercise Sciences department at Skidmore College:

“Whey protein increases calorie burn and fat utilization, helps the body maintain muscle, and triggers the brain to feel full.”

Protein in general has a tendency to rev up your metabolic engine due to its thermogenic effects—meaning, it makes your body produce more heat and in turn, burn more calories—but whey is particularly effective for this.

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that fat oxidation and thermogenic effects are greater with whey than with soy or casein.3

Consuming a high-quality, rapidly absorbed, and easily assimilated whey protein concentrate, not isolate within about 30 minutes of resistance training may maximally stimulate muscle building in young healthy individuals, but this is equally important, if not more so, for the elderly.

People tend to lose muscle mass as they age. The leaner you are, the better your metabolism will be, regardless of your age. There is only about a two-hour window after exercise for optimal muscle repair and growth, and supplying your muscles with the right food at this time is essential—and whey is among the best.

Read More