Recovery – The forgotten boost to your training.

  • Today, there is a lot of emphasis placed on being the hardest worker in the room.
  • 8-week challenges, detox programs, transformations and the like are all well used means of working towards your individualised goals and can be a great motivator and kickstart into establishing healthy habits.
  • Health is a major value of ours at PhysioCentral, and knowing you are moving forward with your goals is our priority. 
  • We want to take your game one step further and offer you some information that will help you to be the “smartest worker in the gym” and to look at your health holistically while you grow.
  • Does this sound familiar? Training is going well, but you’re still not seeing the results you want. Maybe you’re just missing a couple of pieces of the puzzle.

These are the three pillars of health. They balance each other out. Without one aspect, the foundation will crumble and you’ll be stuck in the same rut.

  1. Exercise (cardio + resistance)
  2. Nutrition
  3. Sleep

We take it, if you’re reading this. You’ve already got the exercise part down-pat. 

There are dangers of overexercising or overtraining :


We’ve seen a number of people competing to hit a quota of the most sessions possible during their 8-week challenges. It’s okay to push yourself! But doing High Volume/ High Intensity workouts back-to-back for repeated weeks (even months) is a massive risk.

How does it happen?

Often, overtraining is a gradual onset. An individual who begins an exercise routine may be given the impression that if “some is good, then more is better”.

Typically, when starting into an exercise program, it is easy to lose high amounts of weight almost immediately. When this weight loss levels off (or “plateaus”), the temptation is to work even harder to continue to achieve the same results that initially occurred. In doing so, more and more time is spent not only exercising at high intensities for long periods of time, but also fretting and worrying about the apparent lack of results. This is compounded by poor nutrition and insufficient sleep. Overtraining commonly occurs in such a situation – which just makes the problem worse, since it is even harder to get results when the body is broken down and overtrained!

Common symptoms of overtraining

  • Excessive fatigue/lethargy, especially outside of the gym
  • Loss of motivation, energy, drive, and enthusiasm to train
  • Increased stress, anxiety, irritability and feelings of depression
  • Insomnia, sleep problems, or nightmares
  • Poor concentration, hyperactivity and an inability to relax
  • Large fluctuations in weight
  • Loss of appetite
  • Constant excessively sore and/or weak muscles
  • Increased susceptibility to sickness and injury
  • Diarrhea, nausea, or headaches.

What to do to combat OVERTRAINING:

  • Modify training by reducing sets, reps, time and intensity. If symptoms are severe, stop completely.
  • Wear compression skins/garments – There is some evidence that these reduce post workout DOMS (Delayed onset muscle soreness) + perceived fatigue
  • Introduce recovery days and weeks. Active recovery, cold water immersion and massage therapy have good quality evidence backing up reduced DOM’s and reduced perceived fatigue. Active recovery also helps pump out metabolites (blood lactate) Creatine Kinase + CRP- stimulates blood flow.
  • Relieve tension and stress (massage, meditation, yoga, hot baths, whatever individually helps you to shut down and relax.) 

Nutrition is another key aspect of recovery:

  • Identify nutritional deficiencies in diet – if you’re trying to lose weight by undereating and over training, you’re going to burn out.
    Re-fuel with the correct macros based on what you’re training e.g. carb loading, healthy fats and rich proteins.
  • Recommended intake of fluid below:
  • 11.5 cups (2.7 litres) a day for women
  • 15.5 cups (3.7 litres) a day for men
  • This is from all sources (tea, juices, water) + fluids in food = on average around 20% of daily fluid intake.
  • Take extra care with the amount of caffeine and fluid tablets which control fluid within the body, as they have a diuretic function. This will dry you out at a faster rate when training, so compensate fluid accordingly.


  • Another avenue out of training which can be used to fast-track your training and recovery.
  • 7-9 hours is the recommended amount for adults.
  • Muscle repair, hormonal balance and metabolic balance are reset during the sleep cycle.
  • Muscular strength, power and endurance capacity are also boosted with a consistently effective sleep cycle.
  • Vice versa, reducing sleep creates negative consequences to all the above.

To aid sleep:

  1. Reduce blue light to orange light (smart phones have a setting for this). Better off, try to reduced all light half an hour before going to bed. Reading a book can also help.
  2. Eat at a regular time and reduce fluid intake during the night to aid digestion and reduce interrupted sleeps.
  3. Meditate, listen to soothing music, breathing.
  4. Check with your doctor and see if there are some supplements (e.g. melatonin) or other alternatives to boost sleep.
  5. If you have insomnia or are continually interrupted in your sleep despite trying all of these, get a sleep study for further information.


The body does not grow stronger, fitter, or leaner while you are working out. Instead, rest and recovery outside of exercise provides an avenue for repair of damaged muscle fibres, and restoration of glycogen (fuel) and hormone levels essential for normal function. BALANCE of  these = healthy body, higher metabolism and < fat storage.

So remember to allow yourself to rest, The regeneration that occurs during recovery will allow you to see better results from your training and avoid injury, excessive fatigue, and lack of motivation to exercise. Your physiotherapist, or trainer can be a great source for receiving a individualised training plan that include specific exercises to achieve the results you desire, with optimal work and recovery ratios. So if you want the best results, consider talking to them. Until then, train smart!