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High Low Recover Repeat

I recently had a consultation with a man in his 40’s who had a background as a wrestler. This background taught him a ton of mental toughness which he used for many years to develop himself physically. As he got older, the daily toll of high intensity training sessions started to catch up to him and he was feeling the effects. This is pretty common amongst athletes who have been training for a couple decades. They develop the training habits necessary to be the best in their teens and twenties but they don’t adjust them as they age, they just keep putting the pedal to the metal and wonder why the machine keeps breaking down.

Training is the balancing act of managing stress and recovery. If we induce too much stress without allowing the appropriate recovery we feel bad, get injured, and see our performance decrease. If we recover too much, we don’t see the development and adaptation necessary to make good progress. We must manage them both appropriately. Instead of going balls-out every day, we need to allow some undulation in training intensity and volume and we need to do so with the long game in mind. It’s okay to sacrifice some short-term progress if we know it will keep us in the game longer and thus allow us to make greater progress in the end. This is where the high-low-recover-repeat cycle can be beneficial.

High intensity days are ones in which we will train the threshold of whatever our chosen training stimulus is. So, for strength days we would train heavy, very close to failure. For cardio, we would train close to our zone max for an extended period of time for that energy system. During low intensity days, the goal is to stimulate the muscles, movements, and energy systems we are trying to develop without pushing the envelope. Recovery days will consist of very low stress, therapeutic activity designed to help return us to a parasympathetic state and rehabilitate our bodies so that we can continue to train for the long term.

Here is how it could be laid out for someone looking to develop strength :

Monday (High Day), Lower Body Max Strength/Speed Focus 

-Prowler Sprints 10×10 sec sprint, EMOM

-Box Squat w/chains 5×3

-Deadlift work up to a heavy set of 3, add weight do a heavy set of 2, add weigh do a heavy set of 1

Tuesday (Low Day), Upper Body Bodybuilding Focus

weight should be moderate and doable, nothing should be taken to failure

-A1: DB Bench Press 4×14,12,10,8 

-A2: Chest Supported DB Rows 4×14,12,10,8

-Pullup Ladder (Start w/ 1 rep, rest 60 secs, 2 reps, rest 60 secs, 3 reps, etc)

-B1: Barbell Curls 40 sec on, 30 sec off, 30 sec on, 20 sec off, 20 sec on

-B2: Banded Triceps Pressdowns 40 sec on, 30 sec off, 30 sec on, 20 sec off, 20 sec on

-Banded Pull a Parts, 100 total

Wednesday, Recovery Day

-20 min walk

-20 min yoga

-3 rounds of contrast (1 min ice bath, 3 min sauna)

Thursday (High Day), Upper Body Max Strength/Speed Focus

Explosive Pushups 10×3 EMOM

-Push Press, work up to a heavy set of 3, do a set of 2 with that weight every 90 sec

-Floor Press, work up to a max double w/ chains

Friday (Low Day), Lower Body Conditioning Day

For Time:

100 KB Swings

rest 60 sec

80 BW Squats

rest 60 sec

60 Calorie Row

rest 60 sec

40 Lunges

rest 60 sec

20 Calorie Bike

rest 60 sec

800 meter run 

Rest 5 min

Accumulate 2 min of plank

Accumulate 1 min of side planks each side

Saturday, Recovery Day

-20 min sauna session

Tissue work on any areas of trouble (foam rolling, body tempering, cupping, scraping, dry needling)

-10 min of breathing

Sunday, Off Day

This is template can be manipulated and applied to whatever your goals are or whatever schedule you currently have. As you age, you can still train with high intensity (and I would argue that you should) but you also need to know how to manage that stress appropriately. The high-low-recover-repeat method will help you do just that. 

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