Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Training and Recovery

One of the biggest mistakes that athletes can make is not allowing their bodies time to recover. But...to even get to the recovery period- you have to train hard enough to warrant it!

If you haven't paid attention to what every expert in the world has been shouting yet, it is a well known fact that growth takes place after you leave the gym, you need to eat properly (another post) and allow the body time to recover and build tissue. Back to back heavy sessions or multiple sessions may make you feel like a beast but you are doing more harm to your physique than good. That's one reason why Bodybuilders use the body split method- they can train everyday but move from one body part to the next and still make gains.

Roy and I started German Volume Training (GVT) two weeks ago- this is a method used for only a short time span where the trainee will perform 10 sets of 10 reps with a very short rest in between.

Typically this is done with one body part and there may be several days- even up to 5 days between sessions. We are hitting quads and shoulders, these are two focus areas of mine.

I recently experienced for the very first time in my lifting career, something new, I had not recovered enough from the previous workout- in fact, it was so dramatic that I couldn't lift nearly what I typically would lift. It was an odd experience for me.

In the past I have felt fatigued, or just plain tired, those are very different and you should be able to discern the difference. This time my body was not physically capable of performing what it was expected, and it actually performed sub-par of the typical weight.

On Wednesday we did GVT squats- the weight was increased from the previous session (its two sessions a week at the same weight for one week, then moved up the next two sessions). I was squatting at 115 which is pretty beastly considering I am at 126 pounds bodyweight and am doing 100 reps with little rest in between. I sweat, a lot!

This was on Wednesday evening and I finished at about 6:45- I had to push the sled afterward, I think the weight added to the sled was 115 pounds? So I would do four sets of three runs, each run about 20 feet maybe.

Then on Thursday morning I woke up at 4:00 a.m. to get to Gold's Gym by 5:00 a.m. to train hamstrings. Usually this would not be an issue, this week it was.

Roy wanted me to add some deadlifts in now, we started this last week on Mondays, so I wanted to first do my standing leg curls then go into the deads. The leg curls were hard but I just figured I was tired, the workout the night before was fairly brutal. But then I moved to deadlifts and I could only lift 185 pounds, 3 sets of 5. I could not do more. On Monday I lifted more than that and I did 5 sets of 10, this was a huge drop off.

I went to the prone leg curl and found I was lifting the same weight for less reps as the week prior. I moved to the Glute Ham Raise and literally fell apart. I did two sets of 5 reps. Last Thursday I did three sets of 10 reps.

I talked to Roy about it on Friday- I immediately figured that I was not fully recovered but I was a bit concerned, I need to get my legs bigger and the only way is to hit them twice a week. Quads twice and Hams twice. If I was so exhausted from the GVT I couldn't do this, there are not enough days in the week. 

Roy agreed that it was the fact that I had not recovered fully and he was pleased. 

Odd? No- let me explain.

GVT is designed to over load the Central Nervous System (CNS) and cause muscle hypertrophy, causing the athlete to gain lean muscle mass quickly. Here is an article about GVT from the National Strength and Conditioning Association, I found it quite interesting.

If you are really lifting at the recommended weight of about 60% to 70% of one rep max, for 100 reps, you should really take quite some time to recover. It should not be so easy that you bounce back in 24 or even 48 hours, I don't care how strong or young you are.

So the fact that I was explaining to Roy that I hadn't felt fatigued, I felt completely physically incapable of lifting my weights, showed that indeed I had overloaded my system, and my body was still trying to recover. Adaptation was occurring. My body was reacting to the overload and trying to adapt, I was gaining strength and mass (as long as I was eating enough too).

He said that if that occurred again, and I was not capable of increasing my weights or reps, then I should call it a day and go home, I was doing no good spending time in the gym. It would be like those people we all see who go in every single time, do the exact same workout with the exact same weight, and they look exactly the same forever, or fatter.

Friday as we trained shoulders, utilizing the GVT method again, I had recovered, and my weight went up as it should.

Saturday morning I went into Gold's Gym on my own, I had a very busy day and a very short time to lift, I did my GVT squats at 115 pounds, and it felt easy, I mean fairly easy. I was high as a kite, I was singing (as much as I could considering I was panting in between sets) and smiling, I knew I was getting stronger and adding mass, and on Wednesday my squats would go up yet again...