Despite winning the World’s Strongest Man (WSM) contest two weeks ago, Mitchell Hooper is already back to educating fans who dream of getting stronger. On May 2, 2023, Hooper published a video on his YouTube channel wherein he revealed ways of optimizing recovery through the management of sleep, deload training, and stimulation of muscles versus the nervous system.
The seminar-like session in the gym is part of an ongoing unnamed educational series of videos on Hooper’s channel. In addition to discussing delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), the 2023 WSM champion explains the importance of sleep for athletes versus their more sedentary counterparts and how to manage the stressors to the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. Check it out below
Importance of Sleep
The general suggestion for requisite sleep is six to eight hours, but according to Hooper, that is designated for individuals leading a mostly sedentary lifestyle. For athletes, Hooper moves that general range to eight to 11 hours — 9.5 hours on average.
While that may seem undoable for anyone with a busy work and/or home life, athletes sleeping fewer hours than that are conceding some amount of their total recoverable volume. This is similar to how (DOMS) can impact training. If an athlete trains before DOMS has subsided, they are potentially leaving gains on the table as the body has not yet fully recovered from the previous training session.
There are two systems Hooper dissects when addressing how to limit the negative impacts of stress on training: the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS).
Sympathetic Nervous System
This system is colloquially known as the “fight or flight.” Both positive and negative stressors will filter through this system. This could include anything from intense training at the gym to an argument with a significant other.
When it comes to one-rep max, you’re not testing your muscles, you’re testing your nervous system.
For competitive athletes who have to perform under the time pressures of competition and the watchful eyes of the judge staff, the SNS is likely to endure increased stimulation, taxing it further.
Parasympathetic Nervous System
This system is colloquially known as the “rest and digest.” Allowing the PNS to recover is why deload weeks are typical over longer programs.
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If progressively overloading is something that everyone could do constantly forever, there wouldn’t be a need for planned rest. However, since that is not the case, Hooper suggests that after a maximum of six weeks of consistent training, a week of lighter training to allow the PNS to recover is a ticket to breaking through plateaus.
Featured image: @mitchellhooper on Instagram