The most important factor in your fitness. Part 3: How to start on the Warrior Path

Coach Josh here, Training for Warriors Portland. I want to talk to you today about the one thing that will actually create all the results for your health and fitness that you're looking for. Now, you might be wondering... what is that one thing?!

That's right. It's the process of recovery.

This is the yin to the yang. This is the para-sympathetic to the sympathetic nervous system. This is the relaxation phase that comes after the contraction that gives you the result that you want, whether that result is to build muscle, to burn fat, or feel good. It's actually in the recovery phase, a part of the recovery process that gets you to your goal.

When you train, you are breaking the muscle down. Even though you're building up your nervous system's capacity and strengthening your body, you're actually breaking yourself down and producing cortisol. You're stressing your body out! By the end of your workout, some of you have already have already noticed and felt this stress, and you're probably weaker than when you began. Now, you've given yourself some stress or stimuli to recover from!


Breaking down that muscle and building it up! TFW Portland

Breaking down that muscle and building it up! TFW Portland


That's a huge part of training-- the stress and then recovery. As you continue to train yourself, your capacity to lift heavier and heavier weight increases. As strength coach Mark Rippetoe famously said in his book Practical Programming, "You're not just training your ability to be strong, you're actually training your body's recovery systems. You're training your ability to adapt to stress."

One of my favorite quotes is from an old body-builder (I forget who, some guy from the '80s) who once said, "I don't believe in over-training. I believe in under-recovery." Boom! It's so true. If you are somebody who's doing two days high-intensity interval training and high-rep bodybuilding and you're blasting yourself. In addition, if you're eating right, sleeping well, AND juicing on human growth hormone and testosterone they way he was, WELL, OF COURSE he felt great the next day. Steroids was just the ultimate recovery tool, because they produce so many anabolic hormones. You're injecting yourself with so much anabolic hormones that you are essentially blasted with "recovery juice". So basically, you can over-train from almost anything, meaning you exceed your body's ability to recover from it over the long term. (NOTE: Don't do steroids.)

How do you know when you training too much?

We've all had workouts that we didn't recover from the following day...  or maybe even three days afterward. That's the DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), the attack of the DOMS. If you continually have the kind of training that you can't recover from in time for your next session, then what's happening is you're really getting weaker and weaker. Essentially, that's your litmus test for over-training. If you are unable to recover from your training in time for your next bout of training, you're getting into over-reaching territory, which is fine. Do it for too long and then it becomes over-training. Recovery means hydration, sleep, food, active and passive rest. Your active/passive rest can include: play, light exercise/workouts.

Our first recovery topic relates to nutrition.

By nutrition, we refer to the quality of food and the quantity of food. Now if you're reading this, you probably already know that things like local, organic, whole foods, all-natural, or unprocessed foods are going to have most nutrient-dense, calorie light, holistically healthy things you can put in your body. Some people call them "super foods", but I just call them 'real food'. Those things like: cruciferous vegetables, Brassicas, broccoli, brussels sprouts, also lean meat, fatty fish, whole grains, quinoa, beans. Some people have a thing against brown rice and white rice, but those are grains. Just get as many whole, unprocessed food sources you can find that are gonna be the most nutrient-dense. Included in this document will be a list of foods that we like but the list is... It's really a list... A sheet of categories, not so much specific foods.



Plants, vegetables, and protein, OH MY

If you normally eat fruits and vegetables, you're doing really well. There's a lot more data out now about how much protein you need /don't need. I'm a meat-eater or omnivore... but I will say I can remember the battle days where the recommended amount of protein was two times your body weight, in grams of protein. I'm 195 pounds, so that would have meant several days of eating 400 grams of protein for me. Which to me is a unfathomable dare. It's an unrealistic joke to try and actually chase that, but people were doing that back in the day.

We now understand that the body needs a lot less protein to function optimally. A large person recovering from a lot of training might need 1-1.2 grams per pound of body weight. 0.8 grams for a pound of body weight is much more standard for a person to be doing a really good job staying lean. If I'm doing 80% of my weight in grams of protein and I weigh 200 pounds, that's 160 grams of protein which is plenty. People eat even less protein than that and succeed as well. So our heuristic for this is to have 20 to 30 grams of protein per meal. If you're doing four or five meals per day, it might be smoothies, might be meals, you're gonna look at having one palm of protein-dense meat, tempeh, beans and rice, whatever it is. A cup of quinoa, a cup of lentils will get you... That's like 40 grams of protein right there, no problem. So it doesn't take much to get to one serving of protein. So you talk about between 80 grams of protein for a small person to, like I said, 160 grams of protein for a large person. That's a pretty big window, but start there at 0.8 grams of protein... 80% of your body weight in grams of protein. This will definitely be edited to reflect that on the second draft.

Healthy fats are key!

About a third of your calories should come from fat although a lot of people feel great eating even more that that. Start with trying to get a third of your calories from saturated fat, and about a third should be poly-unsaturated, and the final 1/3 should be mono-unsaturated fat. Saturated fat includes avocados, macadamia nuts, fish, eggs, beef, butter and animal products. Then there's different kinds of nuts and avocados for your unsaturated or poly-unsaturated. Don't worry, we'll attach a list for all the different kinds of fats that you can have in your diet. That should be about 30 calories. And then the rest should be carbs, so thinking about your whole grains, your fruits and vegetables.

The more fiber you eat with those fruits and vegetables, the healthier you'll probably feel, you'll have more energy and focus, and your body composition will improve. Ultimately, eating fewer bananas and more broccoli is the right answer, but I try to get a serving of fruit with every meal that I eat per day. And since I drink a couple smoothies, I definitely hit that, because I like me some berries in my smoothies.

When should I stop eating?

Again, at the 50,000-foot level, it's not about eating until you're totally full, it's eating until you're only 80% to 60% full. So eating until you're not hungry versus eating until you can't physically eat anymore. I know that's a big one for me; I still work on that. Like do I... I'm always trying to eat more and more and more, but if you can get yourself to get in the habit of stopping your meal when you no longer feel full... Or when you no longer feel hungry, that's gonna be easier to stay on plan, and it could be as simple as just getting a smaller plate. 'Cause you're gonna fill... We all have a tendency to fill up our plates with whatever food we're eating, if we get a smaller plate, break it down to a palm of protein, fill the rest up with fats and carbs, you're probably gonna be alright and it's going to help you, again, recover faster, build muscle, burn fat.

There are VOLUMES written about nutrition and diet. Which is necessary, because it's a dense subject... and it's kind of the X factor of fitness. So, continue increasing your knowledge about it. I recommend books like:

There's many more than that, but check out those resources! Get even smarter on food, get serious about your recovery and you will definitely be successful. Next time, we'll get deeper in the subject of deciding how much to eat. 

Until then, this is Coach Josh signing out from Training for Warriors Portland, helping you bring out the warrior within.