We are all about the show! Open any social media platform and you will see a lot of personal bests. Personal best in training, personal best photo, personal best moments. This makes it seem like everyone is always going at 100%. If you need a sign to slow it down a bit. Here it is!
Investing a little thought into your recovery process can help you maximize your fitness training and help you take steps to a new level of performance.
Regulate Your Breath
When you are recovering from a tough set in the gym or in practice, what do you do? If you train out of a commercial gym, you'll see many people grabbing their phones to aimlessly scroll or watching one of the TVs located above the cardio equipment.
Instead of just going into a mindless state, utilize this time more effectively. Practicing a two inhale, one long exhale breathing process during your recovery phases helps you manage the stress of the training session more effectively and tap into recovery. By being more mindful during your recovery periods, you can unlock a better output during each set and each session after.
Here is an example of this breathing process provided by the Huberman Lab.
This is also a great addition to your post-training routine. Instead of rushing out the door and into a world of intense stimuli, take a moment and perform this breathing technique. Start with 2-3 minutes of focused breathing and gradually progress to 5-minutes of focused breathing post-training session. This practice will help you down-regulate from the intensity of the session and help you avoid an intense post-workout dip a few hours down the road.
Tap into Zone 2
At the risk of sounding like Gran Torino telling you to "get off my yard," I want to point out this social media view of training. When you look at social media, you see people doing hard workouts, hitting personal bests, and crushing life. What we fail to realize is that this is just a small snapshot into the training plan as a whole. We can't go hard all day every day. To be honest, I love training, and the thought of going hard all day every day sounds absolutely dreadful.
An undervalued area of "training" is spending 150-180 minutes in a Zone 2 heart rate each week. Hitting this marker regularly helps with recovery, memory, mood, cardiovascular health, and even disease management.
Zone 2 is around 60-70% of your Heart Rate max. It should feel relatively easy and like you could go for a really long time at this intensity. Some other benefits include increasing your capillary density and also improved fat-burning capabilities.
Need some help calculating a heart rate range for your zone 2 efforts?
If you are mainly focused on strength and hypertrophy, you might be fearful of this form of aerobic training affecting your gains. Rest easy knowing that zone 2 does not provide enough stimulus to negatively affect your gains. There is even a chance it helps you with these gains by improving your blood flow to working muscles.
Adding this weekly zone 2 focus allows you to keep a well-rounded physiological profile.
What does your schedule look like today? If you have a 20-30 minute phone call on the calendar, make this a time to move at a level of low-intensity activity (ex. pace around the office). Finding pockets of time like this to get some low-intensity movement in throughout your day can add up to a happier feeling body and mind long-term.