Rest and Recovery: A Whole New Perspective (and A Giveaway)

If you’re a type-A, hard-driving peak performer, my hope is that this post will stop you in your tracks. Today I want you to completely rethink your basic philosophy about how you manage both your fitness activities and the assorted stresses of hectic, modern life. This post was inspired by a great article from training expert Joel Jamieson of 8weeksout.com titled, “All Pain, No Gain: Why The High Intensity Training Obsession Has Failed Us All.” Joel’s message set off a firestorm of internal dialog among members of the Primal Blueprint team. (Catch Brad Kearns’ recent interview with him for the Primal Blueprint Podcast.) After much back and forth and additional research, I’m eager to get you reflecting and commenting on the genuine nature of recovery from an entirely new angle. We only have a certain amount of energy we’re able to expend each day. No matter how hard you try to burn additional calories through crazy training, or express your type-A, workaholic tendencies to get more done across the board, you’re ultimately constrained by your own personal daily maximum caloric expenditure. This assertion is supported by a well-publicized study of the Hadza, modern-day hunter-gatherers in Tanzania. The study revealed the shocking insight that we modern slackers burn a similar number of calories (pound for pound, of course) as our seemingly harder working, traditionally living counterparts. The authors of the study, which was published in the journal PLoS One, reported that, “The similarity in [total energy expenditure (TEE)] among Hadza hunter-gatherers and Westerners suggests that even dramatic differences in lifestyle may have a negligible effect on TEE.” I’d consider this mind-blowing. The idea that we have an energy expenditure limit is known as the “constrained model of energy expenditure,” in contrast to the popular, but now seemingly disproven belief that we operate on an “additive model of energy expenditure.” In the additive model embraced by conventional wisdom, your impressive morning workout adds to your total daily energy expenditure, seemingly promoting fitness gains, a faster metabolism, and a reduction in excess body fat. While logical at first glance, the additive model is being exposed as inaccurate. In the constrained model, when we bump up against our max, the body compensates. The downward slope of the “other” section is you glued to the couch watching Netflix all afternoon, too worn out to even answer the doorbell on the heels of your 10k run that same morning. Figure Source: “Constrained Total Energy Expenditure and Metabolic Adaptation to Physical Activity in Adult Humans” This is an extreme example of compensating with slug time when you do something really strenuous; however, there are more subtle, nuanced ways we subconsciously adjust our behaviors when we bump up against our daily max. I also speculate that we might best look at a bigger timeline than a single day. As longtime Primal enthusiast and Newport Coast, CA fitness legend Dave Kobrine observes, if he strings together a good week or two or three of impressive workouts and busy daily schedules, he … Continue reading Rest and Recovery: A Whole New Perspective (and A Giveaway)