Recovery Equals Growth: Q&A with Matt Sinosky
We sat down with Army veteran, serial entrepreneur, and fitness coach Matt Sinoksy to discuss what you can be doing inside and outside of the gym for optimal recovery that will allow you to reach your fitness goals.
In our conversation with him, we discussed the key factors that contribute to your body’s ability to recover. We talk about how diet, supplementation, exercise, devices and rest days all work together and Matt gives his input on questions like “How do I know if I’m going too hard in the gym?” and “How should I train for optimal recovery?”
Q: Why are we talking about recovery?
A: Muscle growth happens not in the gym, but during recovery. When you hit the gym, you’re breaking down your muscles and damaging them. A lot of times people will actually overtrain themselves, so if you don’t give your muscles time to recover, you’re not going to see the growth that you want. In addition to that, you can also make yourself super susceptible to injury which can then put you out of the gym, leaving you unable to train and definitely not unable to make any gains.
Q: How does your diet contribute to your recovery?
A: So much is dependent on your diet. When you’re exercising and lifting heavy weights, you’re breaking down muscles, and the number one thing to eat to repair your muscles is protein. Protein is the building block for muscle growth and recovery, so by eating a diet containing adequate amounts of protein, you are going to aid your body’s recovery in ways that the other macronutrients can’t.
You also want to be mindful of your simple carbohydrate and sugar intake as these foods inherently lead to inflammation, which can be the cause of a lot of peoples’ aches and pains.
Q: In addition to eating a balanced diet, do you take any supplements?
A: I take a combination of our ginger and honey CBD + CBD oil and our CBD/CBG capsules along with a daily vitamin containing calcium. I also take glucosamine and krill oil supplements daily. I take calcium because your body needs calcium to build and maintain strong bones. Your heart, muscles and nerves also need calcium to function properly. Glucosamine is used by the body to make other chemicals that build tendons, ligaments, cartilage, and the fluid that surrounds joints. Taking glucosamine can increase the cartilage and fluid around joints and help prevent their breakdown. I take krill oil because it is a rich source of omega-3s, and it offers antioxidants and vitamin A. It can also help to reduce inflammation, which can help to relieve joint pain.
I also take five milligrams of creatine every single day. Not necessarily for muscle growth, but for its recovery benefits. Creatine is the most widely researched supplement out there and it allows you to workout harder and recover faster.
Q: Should I be training a certain way in the gym?
A: For someone totally new, I would recommend full body strength training every other day for three or four days a week. The days they are not training, I’d have them do something very low intensity like walking or yoga.
For people who are more advanced, I would have them do muscle splits. They would do full body one day, upper body the following day, lower body the next day and so on. You can also do a push/pull/legs split where you train your pushing muscles (chest, shoulders and triceps) one day, your pulling muscles (back and biceps) the following day then lower body the next day and cycle through that split 6 days a week. With a push/pull/legs split you’ll never be working the same muscles on back to back days so this gives your muscles time for optimal recovery.
Q: Do you use any devices or machines to help with recovery?
A: I use two things at home – a TENS unit and a massage gun. A TENS unit delivers electrical pulses to your body through pads that are attached to the unit. You put the pads on the affected area and it’s really good for treating muscle soreness. I’ll also use the massage gun to spot treat areas that I have some soreness in.
I did also receive laser therapy when I had a partial tear in my achilles, and I’m finding that to be pretty effective. It’s not as accessible as the TENS unit and massage gun, but still a good option that aids in recovery.
Q: How would someone know if they’re going too hard in the gym?
A: The biggest piece of advice I can give is just use some common sense. When you are exercising, you are going to have dull aches and pains – all of that stuff is normal. Chronic fatigue in your muscles and excessive joint pain are never good. If you are exercising and feel a sudden, sharp pain, that’s never good either. Your body is going to tell you when you need to back off and rest. Take a rest day or lower the amount of weight you are lifting in the gym if you’re experiencing any physical concerns.
Q: How many rest days should I be taking a week?
A: I’d give yourself at least two days off from heavy lifting sessions. A rest day doesn’t mean sitting on the couch and doing nothing, though. A lot of people will mistake recovery days with full-on rest days as if they were post-surgery and can’t move. Instead of doing absolutely nothing for two days, I like to incorporate active recovery days into my routine. Active recovery just means doing something that isn’t quite as intense as your normal gym routine. This can mean doing some low intensity cardio, taking a crossfit class or doing yoga. It’s important to keep your muscles engaged and moving for the best recovery.
In Jocko Willink’s book, Discipline Equals Freedom, he writes, “if you wake up and need to take a break, do the day, and if you still need one tomorrow actually take the break.” So many people use the way they feel to dictate their actions. If you ignore that immediate feeling to take a day off and you still feel you need it, plan it and take it off, but NEVER miss a scheduled workout day!
As Matt discussed, recovery extends far beyond just taking rest days. Achieving your fitness goals involves factors like nourishing your body, following a set exercise routine, and listening to your body’s signals for necessary breaks. Jocko Willink put it best by saying, “Discipline equals freedom.” People may think that having discipline obligates you to do a task and therefore actually restricts freedom, in reality, by having discipline, you are more organized and achieve goals more efficiently giving you more freedom to do other things.