Celeb Trainer Gunnar Peterson Says Recovery Matters More Than You Think

To most fitness freaks, spending more time doing less sounds counter-intuitive, but the science behind recovery doesn’t lie. We asked celeb trainer, Gunnar Peterson to give us a master class on recovery — a pillar of fitness that is too often neglected.

Known for training the LA Lakers and half the bodies in Hollywood, Gunnar Peterson knows what’s up in the gym. Peterson recently prepped Amber Heard for her role in Aquaman (do you need to know more?) and has trained Kim Kardashian since she was a teen!

Recently, during an afternoon sweat session with a couple of  TCM team members Gunnar dropped some knowledge on recovery that took us by surprise: “I don’t believe that anyone can over-exercise — just under-recover.”

Not seeing results from your workouts like you expect? It could be that you’re not spending enough time recovering, or not recovering the right way. Here’s Gunnar…

The Chalkboard Mag: What are some common warning signs that your body needs a break?  
Gunnar Peterson: Sometimes your body sends up flares, and sometimes there’s just smoke. Regardless, you have to be aware and take the necessary steps to put the fire out. If you have trouble finding words when speaking, you’re tired. If you are always a little bit sore, you probably need a day off. If you can’t increase the weight you are lifting, or get an extra mile in, or increase the pace of your cardio you are probably due for a down day. Massages and body work are great ideas, but if they are not available to you at least try to catch a nap!

TCM: Why is recovery so important for helping achieve overall fitness goals?
GP: Recovery and sleep are so necessary — and the pillars that people forget. We think about training, diet, even hydration, but once we are on a fitness journey the more is more mentality tends to kick in and we neglect the recovery needed in favor of doing more of everything else. We need to recover in order to perform. Even the fastest race car goes into the garage at night for a tune-up.

What are common misconceptions about recovery and fitness?
GP: I see some people do too much too soon, and I see other people do too much for too long without taking proper rest. There is a reason sports have an off-season. I’m not suggesting three months off, but I am saying there are times to turn it up and times to shut it down. Performance in fitness, as well as performance from nutrition choices, are tied to recovery. You can’t get the most out of either without taking the downtime you need and, frankly, have earned.

How much time should be left between workouts? 
GP: This is a case-by-case answer. How is your body responding to training? Are you plateauing? Is your food intake on point? Are you managing your stress levels? Are you doing everything “right” and still no change? Then you need more time between workouts.

What are the best techniques to recover after a workout? 
GP: You hear everything from sensory deprivation tanks (float tanks), to hyperbaric chambers, to massage, to hot/cold tubs, to magnetic therapy and all things in between. I say you should try them all and see what makes you feel/perform best and what fits into your lifestyle. It has to work within your week or it’s a waste. Take a friend or a partner and try them all out — this alone is fun and refreshing.

What role does nutrition play in recovery? 
GP: Nutrition plays a huge role in recovery. The harder and more frequently you train the more important nutrition is. You can’t build a great house without bringing quality materials to the job site. Quality food, in adequate quantity, and plenty of water will help you make the most out of your rest and recovery. I also believe supplementation plays a key role — I recommend taking a multivitamin and MitoQ, a new CoQ10 supplement that works a cellular level to support your body’s “powerhouse,” the mitochondria. Although there’s no “magic pill,” MitoQ is a great way to help support the body where it needs it the most.

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