would like to know about the recovery process and what it means. Are
there specific types of recovery? And how is this connected to
from exercise training is an integral component of the overall training
program and is essential for optimal performance and improvement. If
rate of recovery is improved, higher training volumes and intensities
are possible without the detrimental effects of overtraining (Bishop et
al., 2007).While recovery from exercise is significant, personal
trainers and coaches use different approaches for the recovery process
for clients and athletes. Understanding the physiological concept of
recovery is essential for designing optimal training programs. As well,
individual variability exists within the recovery processdue
to training status (trained vs. untrained), factors of fatigue, and
a person's ability to deal with physical, emotional, and psychological
al. (2007) define recovery as the ability to meet or exceed performance
in a particular activity. Jeffreys (2005) continues that factors of
recovery include 1) normalization of physiological functions
(e.g., blood pressure, cardiac cycle), 2) return to homeostasis
(resting cell environment), 3) restoration of energy stores (blood
glucose and muscle glycogen), and 4) replenishment of cellular energy
enzymes (i.e., phosphofructokinase a key enzyme in
carbohydrate metabolism). In addition, the recovery is very dependent
on specific types of training. Recovery may include an active component
(such as a post-workout walk) and/or a passive component (such as a
post-workout hydrotherary treatment).
Muscle recovery occurs during and primarily after exercise and is characterized by continued removal of metabolic end products
(e.g., lactate and hydrogen ions). During exercise, recovery is needed
to reestablish intramuscular blood flow for oxygen delivery, which
promotes replenishment of phosphocreatine stores (used to resynthesize ATP), restoration of intramuscular pH (acid/base balance), and regaining of muscle membrane potential
(balance between sodium and potassium exchanges inside and outside of
cell) (Weiss, 1991). During post-exercise recovery, there is also an
increase in 'excess post-exercise oxygen consumption' (or EPOC).
Other physiological functions of recovery during this phase include the
return of ventilation, blood circulation and body temperature to
pre-exercise levels (Borsheim and Bahr, 2003).
The most rapid
form of recovery, termed "immediate recovery" occurs during exercise
itself. Bishop and colleagues (2007) give an example of a race walker
with 1 leg in immediate recovery during each stride. With this phase of
recovery, energy regeneration occurs with the lower extremities between
strides. As each leg recovers more quickly, the walker will be able to
complete the striding task more efficiently.
"Short term recovery"
involves recovery between sets of a given exercise or between interval
work bouts. Short-term recovery is the most common form of recovery in
training (Seiler, 2005).
Lastly, the term "training recovery"
is used to describe the recovery between workout sessions or athletic
competitions (Bishop et al., 2007). If consecutive workouts occur (such
as within the same day) without appropriate recovery time, the
individual may be improperly prepared for the next training session.
is usually perceived as any reduction in physical or mental
performance. However, when discussing various aspects of training,
fatigue can be described as failure to maintain the expected force, or
the inability to maintain a given exercise intensity or power output
level (Meeesen 2006). Bigland (1984) expands that fatigue is any
exercise-induced reduction in force or power regardless of whether or
not the task can be sustained.
are two types of fatigue: peripheral and central. Peripheral fatigue
during exercise is often described as impairment within the active
muscle. The muscle contractile proteins are not responding to their
neural stimulation. Depletion of muscle glycogen (for fuel) is thought
to be an important factor in peripheral fatigue, especially during
prolonged exercise (Jentjens, 2003).Central fatigue is concerned with
the descending motor pathways from the brain and spinal cord. Bishop
and colleagues (2008) explain that brain messages may signal reductions
or complete cessation of exercise performance. A central fatigue
hypothesis suggests that the brain is acting as a protective mechanism
to prevent excessive damage to the muscles. Associative Factors of
Recovery Gleeson (2002) elucidates the following related factors
involved in the ability of a person to recover. 1) Muscle
soreness and weakness 2) Poor exercise performance 3) Decrease in
appetite 4) Increased infection 5) Quality and quantity of sleep 6)
striving to achieve optimal exercise performance, individuals need to
be proactive in planning recovery into the training program. Although
there is no consensus on a central strategy for recovery, monitoring
and observing exercise performance will always be most insightful in
adjusting and planning for this essential ingredient of training. In
addition, educating those about the importance of recovery (such as
proper sleep) may empower them to complete suitable interventions to
enhance the process.
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~Jonathan Mike, CSCS, USAW, NSCA-CPT
Doctoral Student, Assistant Editor