28th Jul2011

How the Tactical Athlete Recovers

by A.J.

This past week I got sent to me a email from a 1SG in theater somewhere in the FARAH PROVINCE.  His issue was the ability for him and his men to repair and recover enough.  This guy doesn’t want to just get by.  He is a warrior and a Tactical athlete that wants himself and his men to have the ability to TRAIN to become better and more effective in what they do.  His primary issue is REPAIR!!!   The ability to recover/repair from exercise is one of the determining factors in the long term success of any training program.  What follows is Part of the letter:

“… going out on 3-12 hour patrols, sucking down gallons of water, getting into contact, really takes
everything out of me and my men. I mean our asses are whooped when we come back…

 There are a few things that this guy and everyone else in theater can do to aid in overall repair and recovery.  There is a lot of good ideas out there on the whole repair idea, but when you are in country you are limited to what is available to you and you have to be smart and adapt to gain the edge on the “grind”  that is going on in your body and mind.

The following is my list with the tactical athlete in mind.

1)     Drink plenty of water!  I know, you have been told this a billion times!  We’ll here is a billion and one… just do it!  I tell most of my guys to get a gallon in a day (it’s easy and no math is involved).  Water intake is based on many things.  Environment (heat/dry), activity level, stress, intake of medications or supplements that can act as diuretics (i.e. caffeine).  The more of these factors that are a part of your life the more water you should drink.  Also Rock star, Monster, Red Bull, Ripp-it, Gatorade, coffee, ice tea, juice, and all the rest, are NOT water!  THEY DON”T COUNT only high quality H2O.  Be smart and use the water that is available to you.  If you are out on long patrols make provisions for extra water.  I understand that water is more weight to pack but if you run out of water you will have more problems than a heavy ruck.

2)     Get squared away with your nutrition.  What does this mean?  It means getting your nutrition dialed in to where the nutrients you take are focused on making your body an anabolic machine.  You want Muscle repair, Muscle growth, lactic acid buffered and shuttled out of the body, etc.  Things that you can do to achieve this are:

  1. Take a post workout shake.  You body is a sponge right after any heavy activity and want to repair it needs fuel and will absorb protein and nutrient at a high level post training.  20 to 40 grams of protein is IDEAL.  Under intense stress and training a 1 to 1 or a 2to one ration of carbs to protein can be used to boost the recovery process.  It will also cut down on the stress hormone cortisol. (I recommend V-core for effective protein blend and taste)
  2. Take in more BCAAs.  These are Branch Chain Amino Acids.  They are the “super” amino acids found in Protein.  They increase the repair the body immensely when added to your post workout shake and taken thorough out the day. (I recommend Complete Nutrition REBUILD or Dymatize BCAA Caps.  They are capsules and can be taken quickly and easily with your post workout shake or a meal. Also, it is worth saying unless flavored, BCAAs taste like ass.)
  3. Glutamine is your buddy!   Glutamine is found in the muscles of the body, is the most abundant free amino acid.  It is one of those supplements that does a whole world of good for people who are receiving trauma on their bodies.  Here is a list of some of the benefits of glutamine, Check them out and see if they apply to you:
  • Glutamine is a source of fuel for cells lining the intestines
  • It’s involved in more metabolic processes than any other amino acid.
  • Glutamine can pass through the protective blood-brain barrier and, appears to be necessary for normal brain function.
  • Aids in protecting the body from ammonia toxicity.
  • Essential for maintaining amino acid balance in the body during times of severe stress.
  • It’s used by white blood cells and contributes to normal immune-system function.

It’s important to note that stress an injury (trauma) cause the muscles to release glutamine into the bloodstream. In fact, some experts state that during the time of stress as much as one third of glutamine present in the muscles may be released. As a result, stress and/or illness can lead to the loss of skeletal muscle if not enough glutamine is available. Therefore, one of the benefits of L glutamine is to ensure enough of it is available in the body to help prevent muscle loss (wasting). (Recommendations include L-glutamine from Optimum Nutrition, Dymatize and INTEK.  INTEK has the only time released glutamine combo I am aware of)

3.) Get some shut eye

Take naps & Get enough sleep!
Naps are a great way to speed up your progress. During sleep, your body releases growth hormone and repairs the damage that has been done to your muscles during intense workouts. If you can, take a twenty to sixty minute nap once a day.  Believe me we realize this may not be available in the environment you find yourself in.  Sleep is still essential.  Without sufficient sleep your results for muscle and mental repair will be less than stellar to say the least…so…get it when you can!

4.)  Stretch
This is a great way to increase blood flow to the muscles which helps shuttle in the nutrients necessary for optimal recovery.  You should always try to stay somewhat flexible.  The amount of time you find yourself in a stagnant position should reflect the amount of time you should try to stretch.  If you find yourself sitting or crouched in a less than comfortable position (i.e. riding in a M1), you should take some time to get yourself loose.  The last thing you want is to move slower than molasses on a cold day when you are being engaged by unfriendly locals.  You could find yourself pulling/tearing a muscle, or shot because your movements can be timed by a sun dial.  Stretching also helps increase blood flow to the muscles to help shuttle out lactic acid.  Stretching helps try it and stay consistent, you will see a difference.

5.) Get into a routine

Making sure you have a routine helps your body adapt and know what to expect.  It also helps lower stress levels because of the familiarity of the week.  Lower stress will give your body a chance to repair at optimal levels.  Make sure you have a group of buddies to train with and will keep you accountable.  Try making daily, weekly and monthly goals for yourself, which your training buddies can hold you accountable for.    Always make a schedule that has days off from training figured in too.  This helps account for an unpredictable schedule and will give your body ample time to recover to come back stronger!


I figured that would get your attention.  I will say this once….  TESTOSTERONE IS KING! Without it you are in a world of hurt.  The body is the most elaborate machine ever made and this machine runs off the high octane fuel, known as TEST.  Testosterone promotes protein synthesis and growth of tissues.  Some of Testosterone’s anabolic effects include growth of muscle mass and strength, increased bone density and strength, and stimulation of linear growth and bone maturation.  Testosterone also aids in mental and physical energy, aggression, and may play a role in the regulation of the fight-or-flight response.  We can go on about all the things that testosterone does, but in a nut shell it will make you repair and build at optimal levels.

There are products that will actually help boost testosterone both naturally and synthetically. The difference is the natural test boosters work with your body’s own production of testosterone and amplifies that. This will help create less fatigue, more energy, and muscle repair will go up. Synthetic test boosters are taken into the body and actually convert to testosterone metabolites in the blood
stream. The result is a dramatic increase in free testosterone in the blood. This causes HUGE increases in strength (in about 10 days) and an elevation so high in muscle repair that increased muscle growth is the result. This stuff works VERY well. One thing to remember is, when you take this stuff, it is always important to take a natural test product.  This is to keep natural test levels high. You body is a balance.  If it senses an increase of testosterone in the blood it will slow your natural production down (NOT GOOD). Most of these products are sold in 6 to 8 week stacks and

5 Responses to “How the Tactical Athlete Recovers”

  • Jaylin

    Cheers pal. I do apprecatie the writing.

  • Tangela

    There are no words to dcesrbie how bodacious this is.

  • Brian B.

    That’s the rub now: As I’ve entered my 30th year in military service to Canada, my emphasis moves more towards finding ways to recover from injury and high-intensity efforts. I can’t prevent age slowing me down but I can fight like hell to try and keep up with the young ones. Diet, exercise and attitude. Thanks for the pointers.

    • Thanks for the comment Brian! I agree 100% the thing that allot of civilians don’t realize is that it isn’t so much the years as it is the miles. Keep fighting the good fight brother.

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