The Importance of Rest and Recovery in Performance (and in Life)

One positive of the coronavirus pandemic is that people have turned their focus to becoming healthier through fitness, nutrition, and rest, with the goal of long-term wellness rather than short-term chiseled abs or personal records.  At Coach Robb Solutions, our manta has always been health, wellness, then performance. Exercise is a great habit to have within your daily life; however, when it becomes an obsession it can actually become counter-productive to your overall health.  Excessive training (in the form of volume and/or intensity) without adequate rest and recovery causes the body to become “numb” to external indicators of over training such as mood swings, simple sugar cravings, interrupted sleep, loss of sex drive, loss of body weight, suppressed appetite an elevated resting heart rate, and most important in today’s climate, a compromised immune system.

Research indicates that after 12 weeks of consistent training or exercise, Cytochome C (a mitochondrial enzyme involved in the production of energy at a cellular level), reaches a peak and then beings to decline. In addition to Cytochrome C levels, so does your maximum oxygen uptake (also known as your VO2 Max.).  At this point, the body must be allowed to rest and re-group for continued progress.

Exercise creates adaptations within the body’s various systems (muscular, cardio-pulmonary, lymphatic, nervous and connective) and needs to be supported with rest and food for positive adaptations.  Inadequate amounts (and quality) of sleep and food set the body up for a physical break down which leads to negative effects on the body (i.e. suppressed immune system and muscles with less power and endurance).

In addition to adaptations within the body’s systems, exercise causes changes at a cellular level – cell mitochondria swell, metabolic wastes accumulate, essential nutrients (particularly electrolytes and stored glycogen) deplete, and muscle tissue is torn.  This tearing is known as microtrauma of the cells, and torn muscle tissue doesn’t work efficiently.  As popularly noted, it takes 48 hours for the body to recover from this micro-trauma and has to be supported with rest and food for proper recovery and improved overall health.

If the body doesn’t get the opportunity to rebuild from the “work phase” of exercise, overall health and associated gains begin to slow down (and in extreme circumstances, cease all together).

The concept of hard exercise days followed with easy-active recovery days incorporated into your weekly training schedule establishes the balance necessary for maximum improvements in your overall health and ultimately your performance.  Consistent exercise without physical or mental setbacks provides the foundation for your body absorb the exercise you are putting the body through. This means building lean muscle and dropping body fat.  The larger the foundation (i.e. quality of overall health) the quicker you will recover from workouts and the quicker your body will progress and adapt.

The key to overcoming your fear of resting for recovery is to understand how much it will help, rather than hinder, your performance and long-term goals.  Think about it this way, if you are not fresh, you will not have the energy (or desire) to push to the next level of performance.  If your body doesn’t experience the next level, you will begin to stagnate within your performance cycles. So, the next time you see a recovery workout on your schedule, don’t ignore it! Remember, that rest allows your body to recover, rebuild, and ultimately become stronger and healthier.

Four Ways to Keep Fat Off Forever!

Weight Training

Weight training is the key to weight loss. Building a foundation of lean muscle will provide you fat burning centers found in the muscle spindle cells that is created and enhanced with load bearing exercises like strength training.

Eat More Protein

Feed your gains with protein. People often skip protein intake immediately after they exercise, thinking that they will save 200 to 300 calories. However, a high-quality shot of protein – specifically amino acids, will accelerate lean muscle growth and muscle repair post exercise. The more lean muscle you build the more efficient you are at burning body fat.

Establish Goals and Work Towards Them

Determine your physical and mental limiters by completing a strength and cardiovascular assessments (sport specific). Establish specific goals and objectives for the next three, six, and 12 months that will help you eliminate your physical limiters. Research indicates that eight workouts per month is the minimum required to stick to a fitness plan. The more frequently you exercise, the better the odds are that you that your initial effort will turn into a habit. Being mentally focused will help you maintain your motivation levels.

Start Exercise Slowly to Give Your Body Time to Adapt

If you have been away from training (i.e. off season, illness or injury), ease back into strength training and cardiovascular fitness slowly. Many people try to resume or pick up where they left off when they exercised in the past. This only results in excessively sore muscles, stressed joints, and a negative mental outlook on working out. When you begin your strength exercises, choose a load level that’s extremely easy to lift for 8 to 10 reps for two sets. Complete that same amount of weight and reps for three weeks to allow your body adequate time to adjust and adapt (I refer to this as the Anatomical Adaptation Stage). For your cardiovascular exercise, keep your duration less than 30 minutes and keep your intensity low – you should be able to pass the talk test, which is where you could talk to someone else or sing to yourself while exercising without becoming winded.

If Diets Worked – Everyone Would Be Thin!

This is a favorite saying of mine that a dear friend and longtime training buddy Dr. Robert Weatherwax has been saying for decades. Think about this statistic, in 2010 there were an estimated 75 million American individuals on some form of a diet and the total expenditure for these diets was $60.9 billion (with a B!). By 2014, the weight loss market grew to an estimated $586.3 billion dollars globally.

Now think about this, how can an industry continue to grow each year, when the industry itself is about losing weight – this number should be decreasing each year, just like the individuals are on these popular diets and medical systems? Here is the truth of the matter – the way to lose weight long term is so simple, the diet companies and medical system centers don’t want you to “learn” how to keep weight off long term because then you will not fail and keep coming back.

Tell me if this doesn’t sound familiar: You get to a point that you don’t like your weight, size and low energy levels. For the sake of this example, let’s say that your weight is 200 pounds. You tell yourself (or you have been convinced by extensive marketing/advertising) that you cannot accomplish your desired weight, size and energy levels without their special diet or medical system, so you join the “X” Company program/system and you are on your way to long term weight loss.

You follow the program religiously and over the next four to six weeks, you lose the “weight” (usually between 8 and 15 pounds); however, you are constantly hungry (because you must follow strict food consumption), you have headaches and you are not sleeping too well. Your pre-diet conditions (night sweats, interrupted sleep, loss of libido, and craving of simple sugars) continue to persist, but you are content that the scale is telling you that you are losing weight. By the eighth to tenth week, you are finished eating like a bird, feeling lethargic and work up the courage to leave your safety net of your diet or medical system to solider this alone. Note: you have reduced your “weight” from 200 pounds to 185 pounds; you are proud of the weight loss and tell yourself that you are determined to get back to your high school weight of 170 pounds.

So you transition from the diet makers boxed food items, canned drinks, bars and appetite suppressing shots to the real world’s meal and snack items. And sure enough within two weeks, you have put back on five to ten pounds of the weight that you lost. The first thing that comes to your mind is, “I can’t lose and keep the weight off without my special diet or medical system”. The diet company and/or medical systems have you in what is called the Endless Loop of Despair: they have you convinced that you are not capable of losing the weight and keeping it off unless you are under the instruction of their products. THIS IS NONSENSE, YOU ARE CAPABLE OF LOSING WEIGHT AND KEEPING IT OFF, YOU JUST NEED TO BE TAUGHT THE TRUTH ABOUT WEIGHT LOSS.


  1. Dehydrating the body is NOT weight loss
  2. Eating up your muscles is NOT weight loss
  3. Eating very little will cause you to GAIN weight
  4. Exercising too hard, too long, too often will CAUSE you to GAIN weight
  5. You should NEVER be hungry
  6. You should NEVER be tired


Simple Fact #1-Dehydrating the body is NOT weight loss

Here is THE simple “trick” to the high protein, low carbohydrate diet: when you eat carbohydrates (breads, pasta, fruits, vegetables, essentially anything that is not protein) your body converts the carbohydrates into glycogen and stores this sugar in your muscles and liver for energy. In order for your body to store one gram of glycogen (stored sugar), your body stores 2.5 grams of water. Think about this strategy: no carbohydrates, no retained water – you lose 10 pounds in a week! There it is short and sweet – no carbohydrates, not water retention you are lighter. The problem: you have not lost any body fat, just water weight!

Simple Fact #2-Eating up your muscles is NOT weight loss

After you begin to cut calories, your body will go through a process of sourcing energy: stored sugar from the liver and muscles, then protein from muscles and then body fat. On a low calorie diet, protein intake is normally limited –when your body doesn’t receive adequate amounts (or quality) of protein, it will begin to cannibalize (or “eat”) your muscles for energy. It is easy to tell when this is happening, your urine is dark yellow and you can smell the uric acid & ammonia which is a by-product of breaking down the muscle for energy. The problem: you have not lost any body fat, just lost muscle mass!

Simple Fact #3-Eating very little will cause you to GAIN weight 

If your body is not consuming enough calories, the body will switch into the “preservation or survival mode”. The body sends messages (headache, belly grumbling, moody, etc.) to your brain that it needs more calories than it is receiving and when you ignore these messages, your metabolism slows down (usually within 1 to 2 weeks) to match your caloric intake. After you have slowed your metabolism down, anything that you consume over and above your “low calorie” intake is converted to fat -here is the reason why. A calorie from fat yields 9 calories of energy (carbohydrates and protein yield 4 calories of energy); when your body is in preservation mode it is looking for the greatest amount of energy from your body – this comes from either fat (9 calories) or stored sugar or protein (4 calories). When you decide that you are tired of constantly being hungry, experiencing low energy and having chronic headaches, you leave your low calorie diet or medical system and you go back to eating real world food and snacks. The problem is you go from (as an example) consuming 750 calories to 1500 calories and these “extra” 750 calories are immediately converted to fat because your body is stuck in preservation mode. This is why you jump from your end of diet/medical system weight of 185 to 205 pounds – now you are heavier than you were before you started your diet/medical system program! Welcome to the trials and tribulations of the yo-you diet and you begin to believe that you can’t “maintain” your desired weight without a diet program or medical system. The problem: you have not lost any body fat; you have actually triggered your body to convert everything you consumed to stored fat (because it thinks you are starving it)!

Simple Fact #4-Exercising too hard, too long, too often will CAUSE you to GAIN weight

Exercise can serve your body in two ways: as a stress reliever or as a creator of stress; the only element that creates the distinction is the level of stress that the exercise has on your body. When you exercise too hard (relevant to your personal max heart rate number) and/or for too long in duration, your body perceives this as stress and adapts to this exercise as it does any other stress – it dumps a hormone known as cortisol into your blood stream to handle the stress. Unfortunately, cortisol acts as a fat magnet in your body causing you to gain weight even when you are exercising consistently. What compounds the stress of exercise is when the body is lacking adequate quality and quantity of sleep & calories, lacking adequate stored sugar levels and is dehydrated (are you beginning to see a trend here?). The problem: you have not lost any body fat, instead you have exercised yourself into gaining more weight!

Simple Fact #5-You should NEVER be hungry

When you exercise, you should be finishing each session feeling strong and full of energy – actually more than when you started. If you are struggling to finish a workout, you are not taking in enough calories and/or enough carbohydrates (dense breads, fruits and vegetables). Ironically, you burn fat more efficiently when your blood sugars are stable during exercise. If you feel sleepy or sluggish within 20-30 minutes of eating, you may have sensitivity to certain foods types or ingredients. The problem: not consuming enough calories negatively effects the quality of your exercise efforts and limits your ability to burn fat.

Bonus Fact-You should NEVER crave simple sugars

One of the big four indicators of adrenal fatigue are the craving of simple sugars (Note: the other three indicators are night sweats, interrupted sleep and loss of libido all of which will be addressed in another report). This behavior (yes it is a behavior), occurs as a result of low essential fatty acids being consumed in your daily eating. Essential fatty acids (EFA) are sourced from cold water fish, avocadoes and extra virgin olive oil – when your body is low on EFA’s, a negative by-product is the overwhelming cravings for simple sugars. The beauty to consuming cold water fish, avocadoes and extra virgin olive oil is that your body will either use the calories as fuel or pass it as waste – not depositing of body fat! The problem: experiencing adrenal fatigue will cause you to crave simple sugars to the point that it will feel like an addiction.

What An Elevated Heart Rate Means and What To Do If Yours Is Elevated

There is a tremendous amount of discussion floating around these days regarding resting heart rate; however, there is little information regarding what an elevated heart rate means to you as an athlete.

What Causes an Elevated Heart Rate? When it comes to the various forms of stress that your body is subjected to on a daily basis, the list is quite long and complex: lack of quality & quantity of food, dehydration, relationships, financial, school, work, quality & quantity of sleep and keeping all of these variables within manageable levels.   One must realize that your brain doesn’t have a filing system for each form of stress, but rather one large file to handle and address the needs of each form of stress. Notice that the discussion of training and racing hasn’t even been introduced to the stress file. When you train too hard or too long too often, the body has to handle yet another form of stress and the residual effects associated (i.e. fatigue, inflammation, tenderness, etc.).

Daily Symptons Associated with High Levels of Stress

Typical symptoms associated with stress include:

  • Decrease in performance (mentally and physically)
  • Increased recovery windows (takes longer for you to recover from your race weekend and  training days)
  • Short tempered, impatient with other people
  • Lack of motivation to train and race

Long Term Affects of Stress if Systems are Ignored

The concept of Adrenal Fatigue (a.k.a.  Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) is applied to individuals that have pushed the body (mentally and physically) too long without adequate rest and nutrition to provide the necessary “tools” to rebuild a body that is resilient to stress.

The four prominent external signs of Adrenal Fatigue are:

  1. Inability to sleep through the night (even though you are tired)
  2. Waking up throughout the night with night sweats
  3. Loss of libido
  4. Craving simple sugars

Please note, the body doesn’t rebuild and get stronger unless it has adequate amounts of sleep (to naturally release human growth hormones – HGH) and high quality food (carbohydrates, protein and fat) to rebuild the body from the inside out – literally. The body that you have today is the result of the food and sleep you have provided your body over the last six months. It takes six months to completely “rebuild” your body and create the ultimate performance machine that you want. Think about it this way, to have the body that you want in June, starts in January!

How do you Identify an Elevated Heart Rate? Though this sounds odd, many athletes misidentify what an elevated heart rate actually is (much less what to do when the assessment is correct).

There are two ways to effectively capture your heart rate:

  1. Empty your bladder and lay back down with a heart rate monitor on for 5 minutes
  2. Empty your bladder in a seated position and take your pulse for 15 seconds and multiply by 4 to establish your pulse for 1 minute

The key to accuracy is being consistent on your methodology and consistency. If you are worried about a margin of error, this margin will be essentially eliminated because your measurement methodology is the same over the course of four weeks.

Additional Variables to Maintain:

  1. Maintain a log of your resting heart rate for a minimum of 4 weeks.
  2. Maintain a log of your hours of sleep for a minimum of 4 weeks.
  3. Maintain a food log for a minimum of 4 weeks.
  4. Maintain a hydration log for a minimum of 4 weeks.

NOTE: If you would like a copy of Coach Robb’s Body Analysis Log spreadsheet to document these numbers, email me directly.

How Does Food, Hydration and Sleep Impact Your Stress Levels?

The body is constantly adapting to the load levels associated with training  (specifically volume & intensity).   Here is a breakdown of food, hydration and sleep as it relates to improved health, wellness and ultimately your on  speed.

Food: By consuming raw, real food, you provide your body with the key elements to a stronger and faster body. Through clean eating, you are providing your body the right mixture of carbohydrates, protein and fats.

Carbohydrates provide your body stored energy (in the form of sugar) in the form of glycogen within your liver and muscles.  Protein is the building block to re-building torn down muscle tissue. Fats are a necessary nutrient for your nervous system and the protection of your internal organs.

Hydration: By consuming half of your body weight in ounces of filtered water (i.e. 160 pound athlete needs to consume 80 ounces of cold filtered water on a daily basis to ensure proper daily hydration levels). you will provide your body the necessary volume of water to maintain proper levels of hydration. Please keep in mind that the average body has 96 pints of water within it. Your brain consists of 75% water; blood is 85% water; and muscle is 70% water.

Sleep: When you provide your body a minimum of eight hours of sleep per night, it has the opportunity to slip into deep levels of sleep (referred to as REM Pattern 3 – this stands for Rapid Eye Movement) which is the depth of rest that your body has to experience before it will release HGH  naturally. When HGH is released naturally, the body will become stronger and leaner – the reason why sleep needs to be protected at all costs for maximum recovery and improved speeds on the track.

What Do You Do With Your Training If Your Heart Rate Is Elevated?

If you wake up in the morning and your resting heart rate is elevated, follow these guidelines to help offset the negative effects of stress (of any and all kinds):

– Morning HR is elevated by 1-2 beats, follow your existing training schedule

– Morning HR is elevated by 3-5 beats, cut your training volume in half and keep your intensity levels exclusively aerobic (if should be able to talk and/or sing at this intensity level)

– Morning HR is elevated 6+ beats, go back to bed and focus on clean eating throughout the day. No training of any kind.

Final Thoughts… Your body provides you with four specific external symptoms, not to mention the daily symptoms. By accurately evaluating your daily morning heart rate, you will have a non-emotional evaluation of how your body is dealing with stress. By focusing on consistent and clean eating along with 8-9 hours of sleep, your body will be more prepared to handle the stressors that you are subjected to on a daily basis and in turn grow stronger and ultimately faster!

A Balanced Athlete is a Stronger Athlete

When it comes to creating a more complete athlete, the foundation needs to stem from balance. The concept of core body strength and functional integration is recently discussed in every form of media and across all spectrums of athletics. However, what is not addressed in these discussions is how an athlete’s lack of symmetry in all three planes – frontal (front to back), sagittal (left and right) and transverse (top and bottom) is actually an inefficient and injury prone athlete.

How Muscular Imbalances Occur and the Problems It Creates

As an athlete, sport specific training requires certain ranges of motion (involving more than one muscle group and associated joint) that are completed to improve the skills necessary for optimum performance. By recognizing that each movement within the muscles involves a concentric action (the muscle shortens and acceleration of the body part) and an eccentric action (the muscle lengthens to decelerate the body part), and that movement requires traveling through more than one plane (mentioned above), you immediately see how important it is to focus on true functional integration.

To perform actions specific to sport, the primary moving muscles tend to become over developed at the expense of the antagonist muscles limiting the range of motion that can be performed by the necessary muscle groups. Muscular imbalances can create the following symptoms: Decreased power output: the primary mover does not allow the antagonist muscle to complement the range of motion. If the quads are overly tight, the hamstrings will not become fully engaged which limits the total power output of the upper leg. Decreased endurance: if the primary mover is overly tight, the antagonist muscle can not bring the muscle back to its proper position which increases resistance and ultimately creates fatigue within the muscle. Decreased economy: if there is limited range of motion within a muscle, the body will compensate to perform the movement in a non-biomechanically efficient manner Increased risk of injury: a tight muscle is similar to a rubber band that has been pulled tightly, the tension in the middle becomes high and is susceptible to tearing if asked to extend beyond it’s capable range of motion (verses it’s optimum range of motion).

Proprioceptive Balance –  the Foundation to Muscular Integration

As athletes, we understand that the core is the foundation for all of our movements – nearly every movement originates (directly or indirectly) from your core. As you move specific to your sport, your core strives to maintain balance and provides a foundation for the other muscles to interact with for correct biomechanics and ultimately optimum strength and endurance. To ensure that you are forcing your sport specific muscle groups to engage in a more functional way (i.e. through all three planes), you have to incorporate a Proprioceptive Strength Program into your cross training exercise program.

Let’s illustrate what Proprioceptive Balance actually “feels” like. Simply stand on one leg and close your eyes with your head facing forward. As your core strives to maintain balance (i.e. not fall over), you will feel the functional integration of the muscles starting at the foot and coming all the way up into your gluts, core and lower back. This is Proprioceptive Balance in a nut shell. Your body makes these subtle adjustments every time you cross train or participate in your sport. However, you are moving so fast, you don’t “feel” the balance taking place. [Side note: now try the exercise again, but this time tighten up your abdominal muscles so that you feel like you are piercing your spine with your belly button and notice how much more stability you have!]

Tools to Create Proprioceptive Balance and True Muscle Integration

There are a few productive tools that we use with all of our athletes: Indo-Board™ with free weights – click here for a video example Bosu Ball™ with free weights Folded towel with free weights Single leg with free weights

Workouts to Teach Proprioceptive Balance 

To help force the body to work in all three planes, enhance the athlete’s proprioceptive balance and integrate more muscles we have our athletes complete all strength exercises on the Indo-Board™ without letting either side of the board touch the ground. Let’s look at the shoulder press on the Indo-Board™ with a squat. By having the athlete complete a traditional shoulder press while on the board forces the core to create balance in two planes: front/back as well as left/right. The gluts (back of body) are engaged with quads (front of the body) to avoid falling forwards or backwards. The shoulders – particularly the middle deltoids are working to lift the weight, while the anterior and posterior deltoids (the front and back of the shoulder joint) are working to keep the weight from falling forwards or backwards. After you complete the shoulder press, you then perform a squat while standing on the Indo-Board™ and you force your quads (front) and your hamstring (back) to integrate together to avoid falling off of the board (in all directions). By involving so many muscles to complete a shoulder press and squat will develop true muscular integration.

Push – Pull Sprint Interval Set

We also have our athletes incorporate a workout we call Push-Pull-Sprint Intervals. For this workout, you will need access to a Concept 2 Rower™ (most gyms now have one or two units available to their members).

The athlete begins the workout by completing as many push ups on the Indo-Board™ as possible in 30 seconds (with the goal being not to let either side touch the ground) Immediately move to pull ups and complete as many repetitions possible in 30 seconds Immediately move to the Concept 2 Rower™ and complete a 500 meter sprint (capture your elapsed time). Rest five minutes and repeat five times. The overal of this set is to have the smallest deviation in your numbers from Set #1 – Set #5.

If you would like a sport specific proprioceptive training plan & instructional video series, please email me directly at