By Jake Nelson, CSCS, Olympic Lifting Coach, CrossFit East Bay

Optimizing all aspects of sport conditioning is necessary for obtaining peak athletic performance.  A successful season is not only limited to your physical training and development on the court, field or weight room but how you treat your body during the process.  The extreme and recurring physical demands and stress that you put your body through on a daily basis as an athlete REQUIRE you to properly rest, restore and recover.  If you don’t take care of your body you will break down physically and/or mentally.  FACT.  The following information can be used to give you a guideline through specific recovery techniques and concepts to help optimize your athletic potential and send you down the road of GAINZ which leads to domination of the opposition.


Sound training in conjunction with various Methods (rest, ice, nutrition, stretching, massage, etc) that aid in repair and result in better function.

  • Hydrotherapy – Everyone is going to get bumps and bruises, some get them more consistently, but all athletes will need to do hydrotherapy to control inflammation, increase circulation and recovery quicker from injuries and fatigue.
    • Ice – Direct applications of ice following trauma or activity can reduce swelling and decrease total recovery time.
    • Contrast Bath/Shower – VERY IMPORTANT recovery from overtraining and Central Nervous System (CNS) fatigue.
      • Cold tub, temperatures listed above, with 100-110F shower water.
      • Protocol – (1) Go cold, 1 min. (2) Go immediately 2 min hot. (3) Repeat protocol 3 times each and ALWAYS finish on the cold tub.


    • Ice Bath – Great Central Nervous System (CNS) reducer, also helps with swelling and circulation.
      • 15-20 min in water 50-62 degrees F


Bringing the athlete’s body back to its original condition  (Homeostasis)

Restoring your body to it’s natural state, at least athletically, is a bit of a rabbit hole.  Most of us float along a spectrum of “not having enough time” to “I foam roll for hours”.  Ideally, it’s somewhere in between.  It’s important to create large ranges of motion, both actively and passively during a proper warm up BUT no one has time for 1 hour mobility before their workout everyday.  You need to expedite your training warm up to SPECIFIC TO YOU drills, stretches and and a few min on the roller.  If you go home after training and want to make love to the roller, that will help your restoration but do it after training and after the day is done.  Both options, PRE and POST activity, are important to athletic capabilities, but POST activity specifically removes lactic acid and lactate, restores soft tissues (muscles, tendons, ligaments) to normal resting lengths, decreases heart rate, and is perfect before bedtime.


Methods of assisting repair and restoration designed to help the athlete rest and recover so they can train and play again, harder and longer. You need to consider what kind of fatigue state you are  in in order to recover optimally.

Specific Post Training Strategies

METABOLIC FATIGUE – is volume related such as training for over an hour in length, multiple training sessions as well as the overall cumulative effect of fatigue and can be recovered by the use of re-hydration and refueling immediately after training and competition.  Metabolic fatigue can be recognized by early onset of fatigue, normal training seems more difficult or the athlete struggles to complete session.  

Neural Fatigue of the Peripheral Nervous System – is also volume related and caused by high intensity session or long low or moderate sessions of training and can be recovered by hydrotherapy, light active and static stretching as well as massage.  Neural fatigue is expressed by low power output, heavy/slow feet and poor technique.

Neural Fatigue of the Central Nervous System – is caused by low blood glucose levels brought on by high pressure training sessions involving rapid decisions and reactions or just training monotony.  This type of neural fatigue is expressed by lack of motivation/passion and can be recovered by steady intake of carbohydrate during and after training, rest and alternative activities such as music, movies or other activities you need to concentrate less on.

Psychological Fatigue – is caused by conflict (work/relationship/team) competitive pressure or other outside stressors such as school/work/personal or social conflicts.  This type of fatigue is expressed by loss of confidence and lowered self esteem; poor interactions; sleep patterns and communication in your interpersonal relationships.  This fatigue can be recovered by activities similar to Neural fatigue of CNS recovery.

Environmental and Travel Fatigue – is caused by disruption of normal routines such as sleep patterns, meal timing, increased sitting or standing requirements, cultural changes, climatic differences and time change.  This fatigue is usually expressed with longer warm up needs and slower starts to the workout, increased unforced errors in early competition and earlier onset of fatigue.  Recovery strategies for this type of fatigue include proper preparation and planning for training and travel: adequate hydration and refueling patterns; limiting climate stressors such as extreme heat or cold; minimize visual fatigue with sunglasses and limited computer time and minimizing hearing fatigue by wearing ear plugs on long flights.  Limiting loud music, long video or screen times will also help.