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Is Recovery the Key to Optimal Performance?

We all know that frequent recovery days and good, consistent sleep are important for both your performance and your fitness. But are you getting enough of either? Get-Fit Guy interviews Will Ahmed, CEO of a recovery device called WHOOP, to examine and quantify sleep, recovery, and strain.

By
Brock Armstrong,
Episode #435
Photo of a woman too tired to do a chin-up

It has been a while since I wrote the episode called 6 Reasons Recovery is Essential to Your Exercise Routine and even longer since I did the podcast called The Perfect Workout Recovery Day, but I stand by my claim that it is the alternation between stress and rest that moves us to a higher and higher level of fitness. I also still believe that the higher the training intensity and effort, the greater the need for planned recovery. 

Let's face it, when you are under-recovered (or overtrained), your ability to positively adapt to your training (or gain fitness) is zapped, and—in addition to putting yourself at risk of illness and injury—you really are wasting your precious training time. I don’t know about you, but I want results when I train.

So a while ago, to help me keep an eye on that stress/rest balance, I decided to give a device called the WHOOP Strap 2.0 a try. After using it for a few weeks I was so intrigued by the device that I invited the founder and CEO to chat about his background, the science of recovery, and why he has dedicated his life and business to ensuring we all get enough of it. 

The Guest

Will Ahmed grew up loving sports and exercise and many of his childhood heroes were athletes. Will was recruited to Harvard and became captain of the Men's Varsity Squash Team and as a D1 athlete, he was amazed at how little he actually knew about his body. He would often train for three hours a day with his teammates, without knowing what gains (if any) he made in his fitness. He was surrounded by athletes who overtrained, misinterpreted fitness peaks, underestimated recovery and sleep, and got injured. In fact, he felt that whether or not he and his teammates were truly prepared for gameday often seemed random.

Will became inspired by a simple idea: Humans, especially athletes, could optimize their daily performance—not through a random sequence of events and decisions, but rather a systematic approach to understanding the body.

The Interview

When you to listen to the audio interview, you will hear:

  • How Will got interested in studying the science behind overtraining and recovery.
  • What biometric markers are important to measure for recovery.
  • The importance of balancing strain and recovery.
  • Is it Ok to wake up feeling tired and sore and still do a workout?
  • Can you "manage" what you don't measure? 
  • What types of athletes should be focussed on recovery? (Spoiler: All of them)
  • An example of how recovery status correlates with a particular NBA point guard's game. 
  • Are endurance athletes better at recovery than golfers?
  • Is recovery only important for athletes? (Another spoiler: It applies to all of us)
  • How recovery isn't just about rest and sleep.
  • Will's "sleep hacks" for better recovery.
  • Do you need to buy a WHOOP (or a similar device) to accurately track your recovery or can you do it on your own?

Click on the audio player above to hear the entire interview.

For more information, Will's Instagram page is @willahmed and to learn more about WHOOP, go to join.WHOOP.com and use the discount code "FIT" to get $30 dollars off of your new membership (by signing up online).

Woman doing pull-up image courtesy of Shutterstock.

About the Author

Brock Armstrong

Brock Armstrong is a certified AFLCA Group Fitness Leader with a designation in Portable Equipment, NCCP and CAC Triathlon Coach, and a TnT certified run coach. He is also on the board of advisors for the Primal Health Coach Institute and a guest faculty member of the Human Potential Institute. Do you have a fitness question? Leave a message on the Get-Fit Guy listener line. Your question could be featured on the show. 

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