Recovering and Optimizing Performance

Michael Jeffrey MS, CSCS, NASM, FMS, YBT

Recovery.…One of the most important yet forgotten words when it comes to enhancing your overall sports performance.  Throughout my career everyone is always asking me, “What can I do to improve my performance out on the field?” This question is so common because society is telling us more is better; lift more, run more, and jump more. This is engrained in our minds from a young age so people are doing as much as they can thinking that this is going to make them a better athlete on the field. But in reality all anyone is doing is overworking their body potentially leading to decreased performance and multiple overuse injuries. Being in this over-trained state can sometimes take months to recover from, and I have seen athletes lose out on their season because they are training way too much.

Less is More

Training with the proper intensity (% of one rep max) and volume (total amount of work done relating to sets and reps) is often overlooked because some athletes are lifting way more than they should. Without the proper guidance young athletes continue to train this way because they are never told that they are actually breaking down their bodies. It is our job as certified strength and conditioning coaches to know how the body responds to training so these youth athletes can see proper adaptation leading to increased performance on the field. It is a constant problem strength and conditioning coaches battle because many sports will over-prescribe volume when it comes to practice, speed and agility sessions, and extra training sessions leading to over-trained athletes.

How to Fix This Problem

With sports today I understand that overtraining can be a difficult problem to combat, but it is a serious problem that needs to be addressed. With the amount of practice, training volume, and sports specific training youth athletes need to be recovering properly. This is an issue that often gets ignored because several young athletes are willing to put in the work in the weight room, but when it comes to recovery it usually is a priority low on the list. The following key points are simple, yet effective methods to help your body recover and optimize your performance.



  • Sleep

With our busy lives I understand that it can be difficult to sleep enough, but it is essential for our muscles to recover. Our body best recovers while we are sleeping, but if you are not getting enough sleep you will not recover properly. The following benefits can be seen with getting 8 hours of sleep each night:


  • Improves learning and emotional well being
  • Maintain good hormone balance to help heal muscle tissue
  • Improved immune system to fight infection


  • Nutrition


To recover and see increases in muscle mass eating in a caloric surplus is essential. Not eating enough causes your body to break down which leads to you being over trained because you simply do not have enough fuel.  The following information can help your body recover when it comes to your nutrition.


Carbohydrate Intake: The intake of daily carbohydrates will be different for each individual and it is dependent on your current health and performance goals. Here are a few guidelines:

  • 2.5 grams per pound of body weight if training 1 hour per day
  • > 2.5 gramps per pound of body weight if training greater than 1 hour a day
  • 2 grams or less per pound of body weight for non-athletes
  • High carbohydrate meal 2 to 4 hours before exercise
  • Endurance athletes need 30 to 60 grams of carbohydrates every hour
  • High glycemic carbohydrates post workout while low glycemic carbohydrates should be consumed throughout the day

Protein Intake: The intake of protein will be different for everyone based on body size and training goals. Protein is essential for muscle recovery-here are some guidelines:

  • Sedentary adult: 0.4 grams per pound of bodyweight
  • Strength athlete: 0.5-0.8 grams per pound of bodyweight
  • Endurance athlete: 0.5-0.6 grams per pound of bodyweight



Fat Intake: Many people are scared of fat because they don’t realize the energy and health benefits that can be seen with fat intake

  • 0.2-0.5 grams of fat per pound of body weight

Water: Why is it important?

  • 60% of the adult human body is made up of water
  • Fluid loss of 2% will affect circulatory functions and could decrease performance
  • Improved metabolic functioning
  • Body temperature regulation improves
  • Supplies nutrients
  • Lubricates joints and removes wastes
  • Maintain electrolyte balance to help nervous and muscular system function
  • When dehydrated, the lactic acid build up will affect your body more
  • Glycogen storage needs water for recovery

How Much Water?

  • Minimum for men: 13 cups per day
  • Minimum for women: 9 cups per day
  • Drink up to 3 cups before physical activity
  • Drink 6 to 12 fluid ounces every 15 minutes during intense physical activity
  • Exercise over 60 minutes should be supplemented with a 8% carbohydrate drink
  • Ingest 16 to 24 ounces of water for every pound lost during intense exercise

Vitamins and Minerals: Help our body to function and perform optimally

  • B vitamins: assist in the breakdown of glucose and glycogen for energy
  • C vitamins: helps form tendons, ligaments, cartilage, bones, and teeth
  • E vitamins: acts as an anti-oxidant to prevent damage to tissues from free radicals
  • Calcium: helps muscles to contract and nerves to function while helping with blood clotting
  • Magnesium: blood clotting and bone health
  • Iron: helps form compounds that carry oxygen in the body
  • Zinc: immune system function and helps to maintain tissues
  • Chromium: enhances the action of insulin



  • Mobility

Mobility training is a form of training used to improve flexibility by actively stretching the muscle to help it return to its original resting length. This will not only help you feel better on a daily basis, but it will help your muscles to grow and improve your overall strength. Besides the strength benefits, you will also see improvements in your functional movement making you a better athlete on the field. The following specific benefits will be seen with mobility training:

  • Larger Range of Motion
  • Increased Blood Flow
  • Better Posture and Pain Reduction
  • Relaxed Muscle Tone
  • Stress Relief


In closing, I hope that some of these tips will help you remember to listen to your body. Sometimes less is more even though that is going against what society is telling us. Proper recovery should be an essential component of your daily routine because it will make you the best athlete you can be in the long run. If you really want to get that competitive edge I hope that you use some of tips I have given you in this blog and execute them in your daily life.