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Recovery Questions

Question: From Tony DiMartino over at ROC Boxing. Dave, I’m doing some intense Double K Bell workouts involving: ring push-ups, pull-ups and KB jerks. Is the BCAA and EAA enough to quell my sore muscles, light fatigue and aid in recovery and performance? I'm 56. My muscles aren't that sore, but they are sore. Maybe I'm not taking enough BCAA and EAA? I’m taking it once a day.

Answer: Tony, the answer to your question may or may not be simple. First of all I believe you should be taking the BCAA and EAA (Branch Chain Amino Acid and Essential Amino Acid) supplement both before and after your workout.

However, whenever I get a question like yours I have to ask a few questions before answering. They are questions everyone can ask themselves.

What is the purpose of my training? For most of us it’s to improve something. We want to lose body fat, have more energy, build muscle, build strength, improve our athletic skills etc., right?

Many people get so caught up into ‘enduring’ the workout that they fail to recognize what their body is telling them. In other words, if the railroad tracks are rattling and shaking, it’d be a good idea to step to the side.

No matter the goal or method certain rules come to mind.

Intensity – workout intensity has to be high for best results BUT when high enough it digs a trench in the body’s ability to recover. For example, you can jog or sprint. The sprint is a much higher intensity workout. As well, you can pace your way through a low intensity KB Circuit or go ‘all-out’.

Duration - the length of a workout has a direct effect on intensity and also on recovery. You can’t sprint all-out for an hour can you? The more intense a workout – the shorter (in general) it’s going to have to be if you want to recover fully.

Frequency – Can you come back tomorrow and do another one hour sprint? Not likely. How about a third or fourth day in a row? You have to give yourself enough rest from each session for the body to recover and rest. This is especially true as we get older.
You don’t say how many days a week you’re working out or the rotation. Kettlebell workouts, Crossfit workouts, Athletic Performance Training workouts, Bootcamp workouts are demanding and also involve the entire body or at least multiple muscle groups within the exercises. For example a traditional dip works the chest, shoulders and triceps but a “kipping” dip brings in the legs and hips. The same is true with chin ups and kipping chin ups. A traditional shoulder press works the shoulders, traps and triceps but a clean and jerk works the legs, shoulders traps and triceps. You can see how easy it would be to work some muscle groups so frequently that there is insufficient recovery time.

The idea is…it’s going to be a balancing act between intensity, frequency and duration until you find your tolerance for optimal recovery. You may find that you have to take an extra day of rest or cut the workout length down a little to get the best results for you.

Then there are additional nutritional factors involved in recovery. Tune in tomorrow and I’ll get into those as well.

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