Physical fitness and performance like most disciplines has a hierarchy. The phrase “you are only as good as your recovery” holds true when a person is trying to facilitate an adaptation. Physical fitness is considered an adaptation based on an intent to improve our health and longevity.

The Fitness and Recovery Hierarchy:

1. Sleep

2. Nutrition

3. Physical training

Sleep is considered the most important element when discussing recovery and functional ability. It is an opportunity for your body to implement the maintenance and repair it requires from daily activity without interruption.

Nutrition is next on our list. Without diving into nutrition heavily, your body requires enough fuel to perform daily tasks and live. Basal metabolic rate is the amount of calories (fuel) that your body requires for “living” (organ function, cellular activity, etc.). Physical activity requires further fuel consumption to maintain proper performance of the tasks at hand. Thus, an individual has to fuel themselves accordingly to recover from both of those aspects.

Finally, physical training is where an individual attempts to work at facilitating change (adaptations). Examples of change could be an increase in conditioning, strength, or mobility. The goal is to challenge the body by applying stress. Your body will not enjoy the stress being applied, thus it will look to adapt in order to deal with its change in environment. Once you have reached a point where activity feels manageable, you can improve your capacity by gradually increasing the stress (progressive overload).

In closing, physical fitness requires checking boxes regularly and the hierarchy of most important to least is: sleep, nutrition, and physical fitness. Neglecting the order of operations presented will indefinitely hinder physical fitness and the body’s ability to recover from exercise session to session.