Optimal Muscle Recovery

Optimal Muscle Recovery
Edmund Burke, Avery Publishing, 1999

There are many ways to judge the quality of your training. Unfortunately, there are many fewer to record the quality of your recovery. It’s during recovery, not during the run itself, that the training effect occurs. Yet a common mistake is to underrecover when training hard.

Burke is concerned specifically with muscle recovery, and most of his book addresses the nutritional aspect of recovery. Burke presents the R4 system: Restore, replenish, reduce, rebuild. The first R represents restoring fluids and electrolytes to one’s system. The second R represents replenishing muscle glycogen rapidly. Third, reduce oxidative stress on the muscles. Finally, rebuild muscle protein. Burke provides a lot of very specific information, e.g., the amount of arginine studies have shown to be effective in stimulating insulin. He backs his assertions with evidence, including references to the original sources. Burke follows scientific substance with practical instructions.

The book is arranged in two parts, so readers less interested in the research foundation of Burke’s approach can go directly to the pragmatic application.

At times, the book takes on just a little of the flavor of “magic supplementation,” the idea that if just the right amounts of chromium and Siberian ginseng are ingested wonderful performances will result. Some readers might also find their stress levels rising as Burke catalogs fifty different amino acids, minerals, and herbs that are necessary or aid performance.

But from another view, Burke is simply trying to report the current state of nutritional knowledge without neglecting any results that could be of interest. The bulk of his book, especially the second half, is practical, sensible, and easy to put into practice. Simple, enjoyable actions that have measurable positive benefits — A hard formula to resist. I wish I’d had it ten years ago.

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