The Importance of Recovery After a Major Competition
By Jim Napier
The concept of recovering after a major competition by taking off completely or engaging in active rest or other activities has been around for decades. Whether or not an athlete heeds such advice is up to them, but if they don’t they run the risk of injury or being forced into a reduced level of intensity. The muscular and adrenaline systems can only handle so much stress before they begin to function less effectively. Athletics is very stressful to the body in one form or another. Gymnastics has the highest number of injuries and football type injuries are accumulative if not outright career ending. While weightlifting might be considered one of the safest sports, it does play havoc with the bodily systems, and if there is no recovery built into the training regime, the athlete can soon become overtrained or injured.

There are no hard fast rules concerning how much time to take off after a major competition, and few lifters take time off, but walk right back into the gym and start seeing how many PRs they can set. While it is possible to set PRs right after a meet, because the lifter is still hyped up and still in peak condition, the aftermath of doing such can have long lasting effects, and can take months to recover from. Right after a major meet the lifter should at least drop the volume and level of intensity to 50% for a week. After that week they should spend about 3 weeks gradually getting back to their normal training loads, such as: 50% - 60% - 70% - 80%, where 80% would be their normal average monthly intensity level.

If the lifter doesn’t take the time to recover after a major meet or any meet where 100% effort was achieved, they will be forced into an involuntary level of intensity down the road, so you can pay the piper now or pay later, but you will be paying eventually. Far less damage to the muscular system will be incurred if the recovery is taken right after the meet instead of being forced into it later on after more stress has accumulated.

The muscular system can be damaged by deceleration, overloading and compression, and not just from a torn muscle. There are all sorts of gimmicks on the market to alleviate improper training practices, but even those can and do damage the muscles to a certain extent. Reducing the training load after major meets and at other times between meets, when necessary, is more effective than all the cupping, cryotherapy and deep messages combined.

The lifter should plan on training through most local meets in preparation for the most important competitions of the year. This means going 6 for 6 and not handling anything in excess of 90% to 95% of PR, depending on how the lifter feels at the meet. A decision should be made as to whether it is more important to win the local meet or do well in the major meet. The more intense the local meet becomes, then more time must be taken off after that meet, which can interfere in the training for the bigger meets. If the local meets are the big meets, then a decision about which local meets should be minor and which should be the major competitions of the year should be made.