The Recovery Principle for Sports Training

The Recovery Principle dictates that athletes need adequate time to recuperate from training and competition. Many believe that an athlete's ability to recover from workouts is just as important as the workout itself.

It is during rest periods that athletes' bodies adapt to the stress placed upon them during intense workout sessions and competitions. Rest also provides time for a mental preparation and reflection.

The Recovery Principle applies both to immediate rest needed between bouts of exercise, as well as to longer time intervals of several hours to about two days.

When you sprint as fast as possible or lift heavy weights, you will notice that your heart still pumps hard and you breathe heavy for a while after you stop. The term "metabolic recovery" describes what takes place after you exercise as your body returns to homeostasis, its normal stable resting state (see graphic below). Your metabolic rate or oxygen consumption can be elevated for hours after you stop exercising.

Exercise intensity more profoundly affects recovery than does the duration of exercise. Maximizing the recovery processes after interval training, weight training, or repeated sprint work is important.

Actively cooling down by jogging or walking immediately after intense exercise prevents the potential for venous pooling. Rhythmic exercise increases blood flow through the veins and heart during recovery, speeding up lactate removal from the blood.

Active recovery consisting of light-to-moderate cardio activity decreases blood lactic acid significantly faster than complete rest or passive recovery. Whether cycling or running, activities should remain at about 30-60% of the lactic threshold level.

Activity during recovery also maintains circulation to the heart, liver, and inactive muscles that are able to use lactic acid to synthesize glycogen.

Sleep, proper nutrition, and healthy lifestyle habits after intensive training periods are critical if an athlete is to recuperate.

Recovery can also be facilitated by stretching after workouts. Whirlpools and massage can also help muscles rest and rebuild more quickly while minimizing muscle soreness. Upright activity in water also assists with recovery.

Other Sports Training Principles are:

The Balance Principle

The Individualization Principle

The Overload Principle

The Reversibility Principle

The Specificity Principle

The Transfer Principle

The Variation Principle

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