The Best Routine
If you can keep this in mind, you’ll do better: it’s not the workout that makes you stronger—it’s the recovery.
During a period of work, you micro-tear muscles, stretch ligaments and tendons, and stress your cardiovascular system. That pump you feel in your pectoral? That’s blood rushing in. It’s not you getting stronger during the workout.
No, recovery is when all the new strength and conditioning comes. It’s the body’s adaptive response to stress. The body wants to survive and getting stronger and more conditioned is the best way for it to do so. At a cellular level, the body knows just what to do.
That’s why you don’t need to work out when you’re already too sore to move comfortably. You are far better off getting good fuel and another night’s sleep before tackling your next workout.
It may not even be soreness that is the telltale sign of too much work. If you’re moody, or tired all the time, you are likely not giving your body the recovery it needs. If you’re stiff for days on end, you’re probably overdoing it.
You have to listen to your body. It’s telling you that it needs to recover for you to be stronger and faster.
For the older athlete, it’s paramount to get enough fuel and enough rest after training. It’s also important, though, to pay close attention to the work rate and what muscles you are asking to do what thing. For instance, I cycle my workouts so that no muscle group gets maximal intensity work more than once a week. I cycle my workouts so that I don’t exercise maximum mental focus more than twice a week, letting the others be much more free flowing. And I make sure that I fuel appropriately, with protein taking a lead role on resistance training days, and carbohydrates in the forefront if I’m doing cardiovascular work. In either case, I make sure that they stay in balance.
At master’s meets, either in track or powerlifting, the one who wins is not always the very best athlete. The one who wins is the one who shows up and competes injury-free, after a period of good training, also injury-free.
It’s not the training that makes you a winner. It’s training and recovery.