The most overlooked aspect of training for performance is recovery. Most of the time, athletes equate recovery with doing nothing—vegging out on the couch and getting fat. Most athletes would rather run their bodies ragged for fear of gaining weight or losing gains. The truth of the matter is this: gains happen when you are NOT working out. Gains happen when you sleep, when you hydrate and feed your body. Absent a solid recovery regimen, the cornerstone of which is sound nutrition in accordance with your goals, supplementation and rest, gains will be absent and injury more probable.
Yesterday, a member came into the gym on two hours of sleep, dehydrated. This person was on his way to crushing yesterday's workout. After he finished his wall-ball shots, he dropped to the floor in agony from muscle spasms. I honestly thought he popped his calf muscle. Luckily, there were three LMTs present who came to his rescue, who also confirmed that he was experiencing severe muscle spasms, that it wasn't serious, and that he's a drama queen.
I have also made similar mistakes, favoring training over recovery, even when I know that my body needs the rest. These are the times when I have hurt myself; when I have let my ego overrule my body's need for restoration. Don't make this mistake!
It is not always clear when we absolutely need rest. Sometimes I feel a little tired, and maybe my willingness to train is down. I usually train on those days—shoot, sometimes on those days when my willingness to train is down, I may even PR. But, if you feel like absolute garbage, take the day to explore restorative activities, not activities that will deepen the hole you are already in.
The moral of the story is this: recovery is essential. If you are short on sleep, and you have not been taking care of yourself, it's okay to air on the side of caution and take the time you would be working out to focus on recovery. It may save you from injury—a situation which will FORCE you to recover for an extended period of time.
Take the time today, and every rest day, to be PROACTIVE with your recovery. Here are a few suggestions:
1) Take an Epsom salt bath with warm water. 2) Light foam roll or lacrosse ball work 3) Do some Yoga with a focus on breathing and meditation 4) Seated meditation and deep breathing 5) Go get a massage.
Take your recovery as serious as your training. Your life will be long and your gains will be great!