Admittedly, this quote is a reference to recovery from addiction and isn't intended to reference recovery from training, but there is irony in the quote other than it being an addiction recovery quote from an anonymous source. The irony is that this statement actually does work well when applied to performance and training. Recovery is not for those who need to perform at their best; it’s for those who WANT to perform at their best.
The foundations of recovery are set in the general principle that all processes in the body are driven by a universal goal of maintaining homeostasis and resisting change. When the body gets too hot, it responds by sweating to resist the change in body temperature and return to normal. If you go out and drink too much booze on the weekend, your body responds to the increased alcohol concentration in the blood by metabolizing the alcohol and increasing its excretion of bodily fluids (sometimes from multiple locations). Furthermore, if the body is exposed to a certain stimulus or change in demand consistently enough, it builds a tolerance or adapts to make itself better suited to handle future stress. For example, if you live in Arizona long enough, your body will adapt its respiratory and cardiovascular system to better handle an environment with dryer air and warmer temperatures.
In athletics and training, regardless of sport or goal, the body works from the same premise. If the body is subjected to enough stress and physical work, multiple responses occur, such as increased heart rate and output, increased respiratory rate, and mobilization of energy stores. These are all responses that your body naturally takes to handle the physical stress and strain being placed on it. If there is enough stress in training, the body’s response is to increase its ability to resist these stresses, which leads to an increase in performance. So, great, we’ve now defined why the body responds after training and gains size, strength, and overall performance, but where does recovery come into any of this? The answer is that we actually just explained it. Recovery is the response to training that allows you to increase overall performance.
The body is like a building. If you’re a beginner lifter or athlete, chances are your building is a little wooden shack with one window and your goal is to turn that dainty little shack into a brick shithouse. Your building has a lot going for it, in that you have access to some of the most capable labor forces available that are willing to work around the clock to get you where you need to go. The issue, however, is that they are just the workers. You are the architect and your decisions in utilizing training and recovery are what ultimately control the construction or implosion of your building.
1. Training -- The Sledgehammer
2. Recovery -- Raw Materials and Blueprints
3. Why Recover is so Important
4. Building a Recovery Plan