This is the recovery week on the BODathon schedule and I’m pretty happy to be getting less sore. Training’s going well, perhaps very well, but without a full stock of blood the recovery process is slow. But I’ve been feeling better each week, so backing off of my training isn’t an easy thing to do. And I created the damn program. So I can imagine it’s even more difficult for others. So in response to some questions I was getting I wrote this article for The Beachbody Blog.
Why Recovery Weeks Are Important
All training programs are based around a theory called The Specificity of Adaptation. (It’s a theory in name only. When it comes to physical training it’s a law.) When you submit your body to stimulus, over time your body adapts to that stimulus and its effect on your body starts to wane.
If you’ve read the Muscle Confusion section of a P90X guide you’ve seen The Specificity of Adaptation explained, but it’s the same for any and all exercise programs. As your body adapts to new exercise, results accelerate, and once adapted, they decline. The P90X guide describes this phased process as adapt, mastery, and plateauing.
At the point of the plateau, in order to keep improving, you need to either add more stimulus (in the form of weight, speed, and/or intensity) or change your workout routine. If you’re training at your maximum, you’ve likely already done the former, so you do that latter. This is commonly known as training in blocks, where each block is designed to maximize the adapt and mastery phases of the cycle, and then transition prior to the plateau (since the term plateau means your results curve has flattened).
While the article goes into depth about the rationale behind recovery periods, and how to extend them, it brushes over the peaking aspect so we’ll look at that here.
Most Beachbody programs are planned to work towards a peak, but only so far as getting the most out of your workouts to induce body composition change, since that’s the primary goal of of our customers. Athletes, of course, need to peak on the field (court, gym, ring, road, trail, etc), and this always requires honing the balance of training and recovery before your event. The article address this aspect with regards to the type of schedule recovery blocks (we tend to use a week but they can/should vary from a few days to a few weeks) should consist of.
In P90X*, the goal is to recover from the hard resistance and plyometric loads you’ve been working with. Instead of easing off, the workload switches to core, balance, and mobility training, which for some people is harder than the main blocks of training. This is an example of a recovery week that’s really a transition week.
The BODathon requires overall performance, and that requires full body recovery. If you overload too much, too soon, there is no hope that you’ll be fully recovered and able to complete the BODathon at the end. Thus, the recovery week is easier than in other Beachbody programs to ensure that you begin the final phase of your training fully rested after a “trial period” of training that is the end goal of the first block.
So this week is consisting of easy-isn sports specific and mobility work, which should actually give me a small mini-peak at its end because I’ll no longer be broken down from hard training. And while a mini peak isn’t necessary, it’s insurance that I won’t start the next block of training already broken down, which could lead to a state where I can’t possibly recover in time for the BODathon. And while the BODathon itself is not my target, I plan building off of it to try something for this year’s birthday challenge, and I want to begin that final block of training well recovered.
What we’re aiming at here, with all these intense blocks, followed by recovery perhaps a little bit before we really need it, is avoiding an overtrained state as that is always a net negative. It’s a little bit slower than continually overloading intensity without breaks, but much less risky. It just takes a little faith in the scientific process over human nature.