SS 258 – Up Your Recovery, Up Your Gains

Episode 258 Show Notes

Grant and Heavey outline the most effective tools for recovery from exercise. (Hint: Everyone can get stuck in these little traps, but ultimately, there are only a few great levers for improving and enhancing your recovery from exercise.) Find out more!

Grant and Heavey outline the most effective tools for recovery from exercise. (Hint: Everyone can get stuck in little traps, but ultimately, there are only a few great levers for improving and enhancing your recovery from exercise.) Tune in to find out more!

Work with Coach Heavey to help you with your fitness goals. Go to and set up a consultation time with him to check if both of you are a great fit!

[05:50] Optimizing Recovery From Exercise

Recovery is an essential part of training. Training adaptations happen because of overload. You demand something of your body and it adapts based upon the ongoing exposure to that type of demand.

The human body is an adaptation machine. But in order to adapt from exercise, you have to recover. Overload without recovery leads to an accumulation of fatigue that could possibly diminish results. In the worst case, it could halt adaptations and progress

[08:50] Recovery Tool #1: Sleep

Chronic sleep deprivation could lead to decreased performance in the gym, wonky hormonal changes (ex. decreased testosterone, increased cortisol), fat gain, muscle loss, and more. 

A lot of people are sleep-deprived and this is sort of the cultural norm. The amount of sleep each person needs varies to some degree.

Sleeping 5-6 hours a night is going to impair your ability to recover from exercise. So what’s the ideal amount? Ideally, get around 8 hours of sleep. This could be higher for professional athletes who are training multiple times a day. 

So shoot for 8 hours of sleep and once you’re adjusted to that, you can dial it up or down based on your personal response. Heavey believes there is a connection between training volume and the required amount of sleep.

Moreover, people tend to have a dependency with caffeine and this is a sign that you may not be getting enough rest if you’re always needing caffeine to propel you and get you going in your day.

[12:10] Quality Over Quantity

Now you might say you’re getting 8 hours of sleep per night but you still feel shitty. Remember that it’s not all about quantity. Quality plays a huge role, too.

Go back to Episodes 199 and 233 to learn more about how to improve your sleep.

That said, be sure to prioritize your sleep. Make sure that your sleep is as good as it can get. Getting an adequate amount is the best thing you can do for exercise recovery. Body composition and performance are influenced by sleep. You can definitely get better results from adequate sleep.

[13:24] Recovery Tool #2: Nutrition

Just like exercise, eating at a caloric deficit can shed some weight and this adds stress to your body.

You can definitely continue to increase your performance and recover from training while cutting calories, but it may not be in an optimal way. Hence, dialing in other recovery tools to compensate for this can be helpful.

If recovery is your top priority, the ideal approach is to eat slightly above your caloric needs. This may be around 100-200 extra calories per day. Calories are the most important nutritional component for recovery. 

[15:33] Counting the Macros

A couple of macros play an important role in achieving optimum recovery from exercise. 

Protein is essential for your body to build muscle. Shooting for 1 gram per pound of body weight is a fine target. This could be a bit high for most people but it’s not harmful. 

Carbohydrates are also very important for recovery because they work to replenish muscle glycogen levels that play a huge role in fatigue mechanisms. The ideal level for optimum recovery is 1 gram per pound of body weight. You can adjust this upward depending on how much you’re training in the gym.

Fats are the least important out of the macros. But you need to be achieving some baseline level. As long as roughly 10% of your calories are coming from fats then you’re in good shape. Fats are essential for creating hormones. 

[17:30] Recovery Tool #3: Meditation and De-stressing

When it comes to overload, training doesn’t occur in isolation. That’s why cutting weight works against your recovery because it’s part of an overload of stress. Other types of stress are added up in that bucket. This would include stressors related to finance, work, relationships, etc. All that stuff just starts stacking up.

So if you’re a person that’s got all sorts of shit going on in your life, you probably can’t exercise as much as a chill person because all those things are going to interfere with your ability to recover from exercise. 

[19:15] Navy Seals: How Are The Most Stressed People in the World Coping?

Navy seals go through a HUGE amount of stress. Grant wonders if they’re still going to experience negative effects of stress or if they are able to filter it out. Heavey thinks that seals have this super dialed in. They’re subject to all kinds of crazy intense stress, but they’re well-adapted to deal with it. Hence, they can bring themselves back down to a place where they can recover quickly.

[21:15] The Coolness of Cooldowns

Heavey emphasizes the ability to recognize these emotions and response to things. Recognize there are things you can’t necessarily control and try to calm yourself down. There are ways to help facilitate that.

Warm-ups are important but cool downs are just as necessary. In fact, they may play a more important role than warmups do because they help transition from all the stress coming from your exercise back down to your parasympathetic, calmer state setting up your body for recovery.

You can cool down with a 5-minute row or exercise bike. Plus, try doing some breathing drills at the end of the exercise. Just lay on the floor and do a few deep belly breaths. Try placing your hand on your stomach to make sure you’re breathing from your belly and not from your chest. 

[23:55] Recovery Tool #4: Cultivating Relationships (We mean genuine connection, people!)

It’s ironic how the human connection is declining in our society considering the popularity of social media. Heavey believes having those genuine interactions with people can actually help you with your exercise, as crazy as that might sound. 

This all fits into a de-stressing component. Connecting with other people is a uniquely human experience that makes us feel better. It helps us recover more. It’s the same thing as meditation. It has a similar benefit but with a different stimulus.

[26:05] If You’re Not Into the Om…

Heavey clarifies that you don’t have to do meditation to de-stress. It is a powerful tool but it’s not the only tool. You can just go out for a walk by yourself or with your significant other. Any of those things can provide the same benefits. Just be out there in your own head for a while. 

[28:25] The Time Factor

You can do three or four weeks of intense exercise and then do a week where you back off the weights a bit. This can be helpful as you’re overstimulating your body just to let the recovery to fully take over so you can come back and push hard again.

[29:40] The Wonders of Compassionate Touching

Grant is wondering if any form of massage can help with your body to recover from exercise. Heavey explains that foam rolling and stretching can help but not as much. Listen to Episode 237 on foam rolling to learn more about it.

Massage, on the other hand, has solid evidence behind recovery from exercise. But generally speaking, getting a massage enhances recovery markers.

In the research, they refer to massage as compassionate touching. This could range from the regular massage to the sexy stuff. Regardless, they both work.

[33:22] Active Recovery

Active recovery is helpful and could fit into the timing aspect mentioned earlier. So this is done when, for instance, you do heavy training two days in a row and then on the third day, just go for a walk. Physical activity is still involved.

Heavey uses days of active recovery with his clients and believes there is an important element to this. It could just be the pacing of exercise during the week or having the overload stimulus from your session and then backing off. It’s a matter of finding a way for all those to fit together within the context of a training program. That being said, it’s so unique to each situation.

Heavey recommends taking a day or two per week to go out and go for a hike. Whether you want to call it active recovery or de-stressing, there’s value in it.

[36:30] The Human Body Rocks!

If you noticed, all those tools mentioned are the four pillars of health. Interestingly, they’re still the exact same things that help you recover from the stresses that you put your body through during exercise. And it’s this recovery that allows your body to adapt and get better to exercise harder the next time.

Indeed, the human body is an adaptation machine. There’s an overlap between optimizing your health and optimizing your recovery from exercise. You’re setting the conditions for your body to adapt properly.

[37:31] Let’s Talk Scotch!

Grant got to visit the oldest distillery in New York City. By oldest – meaning 2010. It’s called Kings County Distillery located in Brooklyn.

If you happen to be in the area, Grant highly recommends taking the tour. You learn about what they do and what whiskey is. Get to know their history too. In fact, there was a whole whiskey war back in the Prohibition era.

They have a chocolate whiskey (which Grant wasn’t keen about) and a special one called the Winter Spice whiskey (Grant giving this a thumbs up!). Both are unaged white whiskey soaked with the spices of the chocolate. Grant describes it as a gin-ified whiskey. They also have peated bourbon, which is good and light on the peat.

Grant’s favorite was the wheat whiskey. It’s like bourbon but not as sweet. It’s a little lighter and a little more grain.

The history lesson you get from the tour is amazing! Their distillery is on a decommissioned naval yard. Overall, Grant loved the tour. It was fun. The whiskeys were delicious. And, they’re growing.

The reason they’re able to get the product that quickly is they use way smaller casks. They’re even releasing a Bottled-in-Bond.

Grant and Heavey outline the most effective tools for recovery from exercise. (Hint: Everyone can get stuck in these little traps, but ultimately, there are only a few great levers for improving and enhancing your recovery from exercise.) Find out more!

Work with Coach Heavey to help you with your fitness goals. Go to and set up a consultation time with him to check if both of you are a great fit!



S&S Podcast Episode 199: Effect of Sleep on Body Composition

S&S Podcast Episode 233: Sleep and Cognitive Impairment

S&S Podcast Episode 237: Does Foam Rolling & Stretching Help With Recovery?

Kings County Distillery

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