What’s more important than your workout? Your recovery.

In fact, I’d say that not paying more attention to recovery in my younger years was one of the biggest mistakes I made. It would have not only made my progress faster, but just as importantly, it would have prevented accumulated wear and tear for down the road (i.e., now).

-Eric Cressy

You might want to listen to this guy. He’s Eric Cressy, and his business is training elite athletes, specifically professional baseball players. You know, those guys who make a kajillion dollars a year with their muscles and coordination.

Now, in all probability neither you nor I will ever make $2 playing professional sports, but even people trying to retire from an overly long career as a couch jockey need to understand the importance of recovery to your progress and sustained ability to move without pain or difficulty.

Exercise is cumulative trauma. If you’re doing it right, you’re damaging your muscles and connective tissues in every workout. The process of getting stronger and faster is basically the process of healing from this cumulative trauma. And healing takes rest. Keep working those muscles without adequate rest and they won’t heal completely, and instead of getting stronger or faster you’ll get weaker and slower.

I plan at least one day of recovery into each week and a full week every four weeks. Recovery days and weeks can be tough. You build up a head of steam in your workouts and slowing down can feel like you’ve quit. Old, bad habits can resurface. It takes, in my opinion, more discipline to do rest and recovery than it does to do exercise. Exercise becomes addictive. We become dependent on the adrenaline rush and the dopamine jolt from it. Take a week off and you start acting like a junkie who can’t get a fix and seek out alternatives. Even worse, after a week off it can be hard to get back into the groove of daily exercise again.

It may not be any fun. It may be a battle to get through it, but it is worth it.

The rest of Eric’s article here about the most important lessons he’s learned about strength and conditioning in 2013 is well worth a read.

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