Joel Jamieson: Rebound Workouts, HRV and The Importance of Recovery

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I visit the beautiful waterfront of Kirkland, Washington to get some breakthrough insights on athletic training and recovery from Joel Jamieson of 8WeeksOut.com. Months prior to our meeting in summer 2018, my mind was blown by an article Joel wrote on his website called “All Pain, No Gain: Why The High Intensity Training Obsession Has Failed Us All.” In it, Joel reframes our basic notion of recovery from a static activity to something that actually requires energy to achieve. If you envision your weekly energy expenditure in a pie chart, you devote slices to workouts, your career, coaching soccer, whatever, but we must also acknowledge that refreshing brain neurons and restocking muscle glycogen require energy to perform!

The harder your train, the more energy you need to devote to recovery. Unfortunately, athletes usually think in the narrow dimension of training hard and then crashing on the couch to “recover,” or worse, training hard and heading to their high-stress desk job to “recover.” What happens when you disrespect the energy requirement of recovery is you get into what Joel refers to as “recovery debt.” Listen to Joel’s show on the Primal Endurance podcast where he details these concepts.

Joel brings some more mind-blowing insights to this show when he discusses his interesting concept of Rebound Training. Here again, fitness enthusiasts are compelled to reframe our notion of recovery from inactivity to something perhaps more effective—distinct physical exercise that is designed to activate the parasympathetic nervous system and tone down the usually predominant sympathetic nervous system activity. Some more interesting food for thought: Unlike primal humans, exercise and food are no longer inextricably linked. This royally screws up our genetically hardwired dopamine reward system. In short, when we are inactive and eat in modern life, we short circuit our motivation to work out.

Joel is a longtime enthusiast of Heart Rate Variability and his new app Morpheus App (find in App store and start using it!) allows you to aggregate assorted training and lifestyle factors, including HRV, to auto-generate a Recovery score. Knowing your state of recovery, you can make more informed training decisions and stay away from the dreaded recovery debt.

Here are some examples of Rebound Training: Extensive breathing, stretching, and mobility exercises to get blood flowing without stressing the body; Doing only the concentric portion of a deadlift, then dropping the weight to prevent muscle soreness. Here you get the nervous system activation without the muscle damage; Doing very short intervals (say 10-12 seconds) and then allowing long recovery period (like 60 seconds) where you make a devoted effort to lower your heart rate quickly (Yes, amazingly, you can get better and better a this skill! Work on it in the gym and then you can use the same tips to control your stress response in the traffic jam or workplace). Joel coaches world champion MMA fighters, but every fitness enthusiast can learn to make recovery an absolute top priority and do it the right way. Since recording this show with Joel, I have altered my approach to recovery workouts to integrate some of the rebound training techniques instead of just sit around and wait for my muscles and body to feel better and then hit it hard again. It freakin’ works man! Get outside and move and you will recover faster.

Joel is a big-time helicopter pilot so you may get a fun outtake where he is talking about the importance of relaxing and going with the flow in whatever you do, including landing a freaking helicopter on a random mountaintop in the Pacific Northwest, which is one of Joel’s hobbies. After the show, Joel was headed out into the beautiful Pacific Northwest sunset for a quick helicopter trip to Vashon Island. Four hours by car, 30 minutes by helicopter. More time to recover!

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