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3 Keys to Optimizing Your GAINS

Putting the work in with a solid strength and conditioning program is only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to improving athletic performance. If you are not taking the time to understand and prioritize your recovery, then you are quite literally wasting your time in the gym and throwing away your potential gains. We like to tell our athletes that you do not grow in the gym, you grow after you leave the gym. The extent of your growth depends on how well you optimize your recovery and give your body the tools it requires to repair itself.

There are a number of ways to make the most of your time and effort in the gym and maximize your gains. For the purpose of this article, we are going to focus on 3 areas that every athlete should prioritize in order to get the best return on their investment of work.

  1. Sleep. Sleep in the number #1 factor impacting your body’s ability to recover and continue to train. Our body does the vast majority of repair during quality sleep. If you are still embracing the old “I’ll sleep when I die” mentality, then you are seriously limiting your gains and falling short of your potential. If you are more worried about the supplements you are taking than the quality of your sleep, then your priorities are mixed up. There is not a single supplement that you’re going to purchase that will help your body repair better than sleep. A few measures you can take to start to optimize your sleep are establishing a consistent sleep/wake time, avoid eating at least 2 hours before bedtime, and avoid artificial light at least 1 hour before bed.

  1. Nutrition. We are quite literally made up of what we consume on a daily basis. Athletes need to take the time and effort to gain at the very least a basic understanding of nutrition. If you train like a beast but eat like a slob, then you are putting a cap on how efficiently your body can recover and again, limiting your gains. A good place to start is getting an idea of your protein requirements and how much you are actually consuming on a daily basis. If your body was a house, then protein would be the bricks. If you are not supplying your body with adequate protein, then you are going to be limited in the size of the house you can build. In addition to your protein requirements, be conscious of your hydration intake. We should be drinking half our body weight in ounces per day. Staying hydrated helps the entire body function; keeping joints lubricated, delivering nutrients to cells, and organs functioning properly.

  1. Stress management. Whether it’s physical, mental, emotional, illness, or injury related, your cumulative stress load is going to have a major impact on your body’s ability to recover. A certain level of stress is necessary for growth, which is why we undergo voluntary physical stress during training. However, our bodies are only capable of dealing with a certain level of stress. If we cross that fine line of manageable stress into the territory of becoming overloaded, our body will not be able to allocate adequate resources to address all of the demands that we are placing on it. This will lead to suboptimal recovery, overtraining, and increased risk of injury or illness. Remember, all stressors, not just physical, have a bearing on your level of recovery.

Coach Whyte and Coach Bruninghaus


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