CrossFit Nutrition

Maximizing Recovery

One of the biggest mistakes I see among our athletes is they forget this core truth: we get fitter not from training, but from recovering from training. Some of the most experienced, hardcore athletes I know fail to heed the importance of recovery.

Genetics is a factor we can’t control.

Researchers have found genetic variants of genes that increase or decrease the rate at which we recover from exercise-induced muscle damage.

Age is another factor out of our direct control.

Living, eating, and training right can stave off many of the worst effects of aging. However, after intense exercises that damage the muscles, like sprints, heavy lifting, intervals, or longer race-pace runs, older athletes recover more slowly than younger athletes.

If you’re sick, you won’t recover as quickly.

Fighting off an illness takes some of the resources that would otherwise be used to recover from training.

If your hormones are out of whack, you’ll likely recover more slowly.

Hormones are the messengers and managers that tell our cells what to do. That includes muscle repair, muscle growth, fuel replenishment, and every other cellular function related to recovery.

Manage your stress.  

As far as your body is concerned, stress is stress. Traffic is a stressor. A job you hate is a stressor. Procrastinating until you absolutely must get working is a stressor. And yes, exercise is a stressor. Too much stress impairs our ability to recover from exercise-induced stress. Some stress is unavoidable. But most of us create additional stress in our lives and fail to do enough to counter or manage it.

Poor Sleep. 

Sleep debt impairs exercise recovery in many ways: it increases cortisol, decreases testosterone and growth hormone, and slows muscle building/repair. Sleep loss also increases the risk of injuries by decreasing balance coordination, and postural control. If you trip and fall, or throw out your back due to poor form, you won’t even have a workout to recover from.

A bad night of sleep happens to the best of us from time to time, but that isn’t going to significantly effect recovery. The real recovery killer is chronically bad sleep, and that’s the kind most people can avoid.  Start a good sleep hygiene routine and stick with it.

Nutrient Deficiencies

Zinc:  Zinc is key for the production of testosterone; research indicates that exercise increases the need for zinc.

Magnesium and Other Electrolytes: Magnesium is necessary for a plethora of bodily processes related to workout recovery. Unfortunately, a significant amount of magnesium is lost in sweat during exercise, making magnesium deficiency a common problem that contributes to slower workout recovery.

Iron: Intense exercise diminishes iron stores. Iron is necessary for the formation of red blood cells, which deliver oxygen to your tissues during training and recovery.

Low Fuel Availability

Working out expends energy. That energy needs to be replaced before you’re fully recovered and prepared to do another workout. If you’re coming off a long WOD that left you gasping on the ground in a puddle of sweat, you have some glycogen stores to refill.

Insufficient calories, coupled with intense exercise puts too much stress on the body, which decreases muscle building hormones. Instead of growing muscle and burning fat, it promotes muscle wasting and body fat retention. This is a common issue for people trying to lose weight through diet and exercise.


Drinking directly reduces muscle building/repair, reduces sleep quality, and puts increased stress on the body. It also decreases the ability of your muscle cells to use testosterone.


Things You Can Try

Get good sleep, minimize (or eliminate) alcohol, get a handle on your stress, eat enough food, eat enough protein, and get your micronutrients. What else?


Massage feels great, and it’s great for recovery from exercise. It alleviates muscle soreness and speeds up the recovery of muscle strength.


Whey protein is generally digested and absorbed extremely well by the body. It speeds up muscle rebuilding and adaptation to exercise.


Although we get creatine from red meat and fish, additional creatine can boost our performance and recovery from exercise. It increases our phosphocreatine stores, which is what our muscles use for quick bursts of maximal effort. It also helps increase muscle glycogen content without increasing insulin resistance.

Fish Oil (or Fatty Fish)

Fish oil can be taken at any time, but has been shown to decrease muscle soreness when taken post workout. It can also enhance muscle recovery from and adaptation to strength training.

More Carbs

I always say eat the amount of carbs that your body needs to fuel your high intensity activity. While that definitely means eating fewer carbs than the USDA’s recommended 45 to 65 percent of the calories in your diet, you still need to eat enough carbs so that your body is ready for your next workout; especially if that workout will be in less than 24 hours.



Focus on the Basics first! Before taking ice baths, dropping $500 on massages every week, taking a long list of expensive supplements, and walking around in a full body compression suit, make sure you’re sleeping, eating enough food, and giving yourself enough time between workouts.  For most, handling the basics will be enough, and you’ll certainly get the most bang for your buck from them.

What have you found to be the best way to recover from your workouts? What are the biggest roadblocks? Share your experiences on the Sycamore CrossFit Facebook page or in the HSN group message board!

In health

Coach Chris


Athlete of the Week

Athlete of the Week – Kim Perri

We are proud to announce Kim P. as this week’s Sycamore CrossFit Athlete of the Week! Kim has been with us for a year and a half and is one committed mama! She is a 5:30 a.m. regular and loves her morning crew. If you want a fun class to jump into, 5:30 a.m. is one of the best. When Kim first started, she was afraid that she would not be able to keep up with the “CrossFit junkies”, but from day one she has never missed a beat. Like every athlete that comes through our doors, she is coached at her level and has made great strides in her fitness journey. Her consistency and passion for getting fit and strong have helped her reach PRs with a 153 lb. deadlift, 103 lb. back squat, and a very impressive PR of staying ahead of her 16 year old daughter in a workout! Keep it up Kim! You are a great role model for your girls and a special part of our SYCF community!

How would you explain your occupation to a 5 year old?

I ask people for money and give it to the hospital where I work so they can spend it on making sick people better.

How did you get started with CrossFit?

I made a commitment to myself to get fit and strong. I tried a couple of gyms in the area and heard about Sycamore CrossFit. I checked it out, completed Foundations, and I was hooked!

How long have you been doing CrossFit?

This month marks a year and a half.

What are your hobbies and interests outside CrossFit?

I love to travel and almost anything outdoors. Hiking, biking, kayaking, and when it’s time to relax I love going out to the movies.

What is your fitness background?

I have worked out on and off pretty much my entire adult life. I’ve done everything – circuit training, running, weight machines, step classes…even jazzercise!

Short-term training goal?

Double-unders for sure. I can do one and that’s about as far as I get.

Long-term training goal?

I would love to lift more weight and master pull-ups.

What is your favorite movement?

Almost any kind of squat, except over-head.

What is your least favorite movement?


Proudest moment in CrossFit so far?

Anytime I’ve worked my butt off to complete a WOD before the time-cap (red-faced, sweating, breathing hard and just about to die) And that one time I brought my 16 yr old daughter to a Thrive class and she could almost keep up with me. (hehe)

What was your biggest obstacle to starting CrossFit and how did you overcome that?

I wouldn’t say I had any obstacles to starting CrossFit, but I was concerned about being able to keep up with all the CrossFit junkies.

What kept you coming back?

Realizing I could progress at my own pace and that I wasn’t alone in having to scale certain movements. Also, love my 5:30am crew!

Your advice for someone considering starting CrossFit?

Don’t worry about being judged by other athletes in the gym…you won’t be!

How has Sycamore CrossFit changed your life?

Knowing that I’ll be turning 50 next year I feel more confident and stronger than ever, and I’m looking forward to getting better with age. I also feel good about being a role model for my two daughters who can see their mom living an active, healthy lifestyle and encouraging them to do the same.