Rest Faster

Written by: Adam Ticknor

A few months ago I had the pleasure of meeting Robb and hearing him speak. Of course it was awesome. I sent him an email about a rest recovery method I use for clients and he asked me to write up a blogpost on the subject. So, I cleaned up the email and here you go.

I will start with 2 examples of different types of people that now use this method of rest recovery. Obviously these are anecdotal and I have not found any good hard science to back up what I am saying, but like all things, try it and if it works hop on board, if not send me a dirty email.

First let me tell you who I am and what I do. I was a sniper in the Marine Corps and began looking how to perform better as well as fix myself in the field. Running 2 man teams in the middle of nowhere with 120# on you and sneaking around for a long time = injuries. (Especially with no sleep and MREs).

After getting out of the Marines I did some government stuff and went to massage school. Massage school was a joke and I went back to the gun fighting stuff. Later, I ran into, and apprenticed for four years, with the premier bodylanguage reader in the world at the time. Patrick Collard was also a body worker doing a system of bodywork that he learned from his grandfather. Grandpa was a Navajo Shaman, and Patrick combined it with bodylanguage. So, from there, I went and studied and apprenticed or traded information with DC’s, Doe’s and PT’s. Okay enough of that, lets talk about some clients.

We as a community know there are 3 things that keep us physically healthy:

  1. Gut Permeability
  2. Glucose Control
  3. Systemic Inflammation

We also know that we have 2 major ways to control those 3 key items:

  1. Nutrition
  2. Stress/Sleep, Rest, Recovery

Nutrition we have dialed via Paleo. The whole “Lights Out” stuff, completely dark room, no light before bed, and be lazy before bed sets up good sleep patterns. What do we as a community do when someone is so deranged that they cannot sleep or recover?

I have a list of protocols that I have used with good success, however there are still some hard cases. I know that most people do not comply at 100%. However, there are a few that when they do comply 100% it doesn’t work fast enough or it doesn’t tip into health. The following is the standard protocol for a new client that is metabolically deranged:


Morning protocol

  1. Licorice Tea when you wake up
    1. The licorice keeps Cortisol in the blood stream longer, by keeping the liver from clearing it.
  2. Cool shower
    1. It wakes people up, my guess is that it stimulates a Cortisol response but maybe someone should ask Dr. Kruse
  3. Go for a long, lazy loaded walk.
    1. This should last between 40 min to an hour
    2. Wear a weight vest at about 10% of bodyweight
  4. Once home eat a meal high in protein and fat
    1. No absolute proof yet that I know of but the theory is that it resets Leptin and Ghrelin.

Regardless, I see that this protocol begins to reset the tired and wired stuff.


Afternoon Protocol

  1. Eat at least 2 meals a day no more than 3
  2. Keep the snacks down, but if you snack have dense protein with it and avoid snacking on nuts
  3. Do some sort of training
    1. On days are a linear strength, and not max effort, with at least 30 min off and a SHORT metcon again not anywhere near your max. Short is sub 5 min., and it has to have a full hip extension, push, pull, and transit.
    2. Off day is a neuro day and mobility day. Roll out and a Pavel style GTG well within your limits 


Evening Protocol typical lights out stuff

  1. Stop eating at least 2 hours before bed
  2. Low-level excitement stuff. Be “boring”
  3. Completely dark room
  4. Slightly cool room
  5. I also like people to take a tepid to warm, not hot, bath with very low light about 40 min before bed and magnesium before bed.

Now, this tends to work for most people. I have found a few that either can not comply because of life reasons, single moms, jobs, school, etc. but they should have tools that help them recover faster. There needs to be a set of tools that can help those that are not yet able to step out of the pattern that they are in.


Two different clients:

My Woman and Mrs. Hips:

My Woman

The easiest to explain is My Woman; she is in her early 40’s and has been a part time, night shift nurse for 20 years. Her choice in profession was designed to fund a successful modern dance career. She was, and had been, a vegetarian for about 20 years until 2009. When we started training together her goal was to develop some jumping skill. However, with the addition of proper nutrition we saw a slew of long-term health issues get better, and we began to look at her sleep stuff. We needed to figure out how we could assist the body in recovery even after having to stay up all night, 3 times every two weeks. In the beginning the protocol was:

  1. Sleep the afternoon before and the next day if she could.
  2. Eat protein during her night shift.
  3. Wear compression tights or leggings
  4. Do some sort of movement while at work.
    1. Double unders
    2. Pistols
    3. Etc
  5. Do some sort of movement when you get home.
    1. Long, lazy, loaded walk
    2. Swim
    3. Some strength work
      1. Deads
      2. Pull ups
      3. Etc

When she started Paleo, there were major improvements in her moods, and health. Then with the addition of compression tights there was another jump. She was often third spacing, which is what you see in your ankles when you have made a long flight. That low level swelling that gives you Cankles and Vienna sausage toes. This is fluid that is in places that it shouldn’t be.

All of this was an improvement but there was a missing piece. We will get to that piece after the next N=1.


Mrs. Hips

Mrs. Hips is a client in her late 30’s that I have worked with for about 6 years. When I first met her I was living in Jackson Hole WY, working as a rehab specialist and a trainer. She was spending 23 hours a day horizontal, and had been for the last 2 years. Prior to that she had a spinal fusion (L4, L5, S1) and two new hips. Her natural hips had to be replaced because of degeneration, and the shape of the ball began to oval. Her spinal fusion was just bad advice, and halfway through her rehab she was in a car wreck where her progress stopped. Prior to being injured she was an athlete. She was a mountain biker, paraglider, paddler and a snowboarder. Remember, I mentioned Jackson Hole, and know that Jackson is the hardest inbound skiing in the country. If you plan to ski or snowboard there you better bring your big girl panties because it is no joke.

Mrs. Hips was extremely frustrated going from being an athlete to being an invalid, laying down for 23 hours a day. It took 2 years of hard work to get her mobile again. When I mean mobile I mean being able to live a comfortable life in the manner that she saw herself, an athlete. She was mountain biking, paragliding and snowboarding again. Then the 2nd curve ball was thrown her way, her new hips failed. At first I thought it was a bad movement pattern or maybe we moved too quickly but, the hips failed all across the country. The FDA had not approved these hips because they were close enough to existing products that they skipped that procedure. Metal began to shear off the hip, which is bad, one, because the body has to deal with metal shaving inside itself, two the hip is now deforming and creating bad movement patterns and lastly because she had to get both hips done again. One of the hips was horrible so she opted to do one at a time. Curve ball 3 is that the doctor made some bad decisions when replacing the hip and within six weeks it failed. EEESH!

After the third revision and 2 within one year, which means she was not able to get strong again before the surgery, she came to hang out for a month and rehab.

She gets here and I realize it is not just rehab she needs but an intervention. She is on a lot of narcotics. First, a Fetanyl patch and 4 – 6 vicadin a day as well as 2 Ambian and multiple NSAIDS. The patch is a serious thing, it is usually given to stage 3 cancer patients or patient’s doctors don’t expect to ever be out of pain again. This is one thing her strict Paleo can’t fix by itself. She couldn’t sleep and everything hurt even with all those narcotics. We needed a way to train her body to rest and give her tools that would show her movement doesn’t hurt and narcotics aren’t helping anymore.

At first I was not concerned with her sleeping through the night as much as I was concerned with her sleeping. Sleeping is when your body can recover and it clears cortisol, which will help bring down systemic inflammation and rehab. Towards the end we began setting up sleeping at night and not throughout the day, but first we just had to get her to sleep.

Mrs. Hips needed an intervention more than she needed rehab. She has good movement patterns and she knows how to rehab herself. So what I thought she was coming out for was not what we ended up working towards. She needed tools. She needed tools to help her get back on the healing track. Once you get on the wrong side of pain it is exhausting and it is hard to catch up. Her being here helped because she and her family/support team trust me and know that I have her best interest at heart. So she feels safe. That is a huge part, but even that did not help right away. The protocol we began to establish was the same that you read above. For me the tipping point was…


Float tanks. I have put multiple people into these tanks. They are completely dark, body temp water with enough medical grade salt/magnesium to float. Put in some earplugs and there it is.

Now, what I see it doing is a number of things. First, it helps de-excite the nervous system. With someone like Mrs. Hips, their nervous system is so pissed off and flared up that normal things hurt. This causes everything to be a stress response etc. I don’t want to get all techie and nerd out on this (that’s what the podcast is for, which I want to say thanks for doing by the way Robb). I see it as a tool to teach someone to de-stress and to find a way to relearn how to rest and recover/sleep.

The next thing I see it do is retrain the body in how to rest. My woman nor Mrs. Hips had the ability to rest. They would get all spun up in their heads about all sorts of stuff. I have watched my woman third space less, diurese more efficiently after a full night of being awake, sleep better the next day, and have fewer off night sleep cycles (meaning going to bed too late). I have also witnessed a better mood about life. So has the youngin’. After about 2 floats the youngin’ had done something to piss mama off and mama handled it differently. The youngin’ said, “Mama, I know your angry but you are not as mad, so whatever you are doing keep doing it!”

I have seen the equivalent with Mrs. Hips.

Also premenstrual stuff is so MUCH BETTER! So that alone should get everyone to hop on board.
What I would like to hear is if other people have had the same or similar experiences, or if you try it, what you see.

The last thing I want to say in this incredibly long post is, it is not one of those BANG kinds of things like shooting up with heroin. It is a subtle thing that hits you later in the day. Like, “Holy shit, I feel mellow.”

Give it a whirl and if you like it, great, if you don’t, cuss my name and send me a grumpy email!

Have fun




Adam currently works in Austin Texas, where he works with individuals and small groups that want to achieve their physical goals. If your broken, healthy, fit, and are looking for someone to help you reach those goals you can contact him at or 307 699 1951.

Categories: General, Sleep


Robb Wolf’s 30 Day Paleo Transformation

Have you heard about the Paleo diet and were curious about how to get started? Or maybe you’ve been trying Paleo for a while but have questions or aren’t sure what the right exercise program is for you? Or maybe you just want a 30-day meal plan and shopping list to make things easier? Then Robb Wolf’s 30 Day Paleo Transformation is for you.


  1. Derek says

    You talk about not exceeding 3 meals a day (breakfast, lunch and dinner).
    What about a post-workout meal? or should we trained just before dinner?

  2. says

    great informative write up? have you had success with using a ‘cool’/cold shower vs warm before bed? this just hit yesterday, or ‘recently’ and the study findings make sense in the ol noggin, my main problem with rest is heat, i am super hot trying to fall asleep and after reading this will consider this option vs a warm shower to see if i can cool off faster and go nighty nite sooner.

    pasted text with link below for reference. thanks!
    Can’t Sleep? Maybe Your Brain Needs a Cold Shower

    For all those suffering with insomnia, help may be on the way. Research presented at Sleep 2011, the annual meeting of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society, offers hope for a safe, natural alternative to sleeping pills for those who struggle to fall asleep and stay asleep at night. The study looked at ways to cool certain parts of the brain in order to ease the symptoms of those with primary insomnia.

    Millions of Americans struggle with insomnia each year and for those whose sleeplessness has no treatable underlying cause, sleeping pills are the most used treatment. While prescription sleep aids can be very effective at helping insomniacs get to sleep, but are generally only used for short term treatment only.

    Additionally, past studies have shown that only 25% of those who use sleeping pills to treat insomnia are satisfied with the treatment. The dissatisfaction may be a result of side effects like morning fuzziness or hangover-like feelings, concerns over developing a dependence on the pills, or the ineffectiveness of the treatment over the long term. The need for additional alternatives to sleep aids that offer immediate relief and long-term treatment is clear.

    The study from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine may have found just such a viable, natural alternative for insomniacs. The study looked at the effectiveness of a technique called frontal cerebral thermal transfer in alleviating symptoms of primary insomnia. The technique, which involves cooling down the pre-frontal cortex using a plastic cap covered with water circulating tubes, seeks to slow down the metabolism in the frontal cortex and counterbalance the increased metabolism in this part of the brain associated with insomnia.

    Participants in the study included 12 women with primary insomnia and 12 women without insomnia who were similar in age. The study examined the sleep patterns of each participant while they were wearing the cap and while they slept without the cap. To determine the effectiveness of the treatment, researchers looked at the overall effectiveness of the technique and at the differences in effectiveness experienced at different temperatures and when the treatment was administered at different times in the wake-sleep cycles of the participants.

    The research team found that cooling the brain of those with insomnia reduced the amount of time it took them to fall asleep and increased the amount of sleep they got, bringing their results in line with the participants who did not have insomnia. On average, when given the highest intensity treatment, those with insomnia were able to fall asleep in 13 minutes compared to the 16 minutes it took their non-insomniac peers. Treatment also enabled those with insomnia to get more sleep, matching the percentage of time their peers spent sleeping while in bed at 89%. The overall effectiveness of the treatment is dependent on the frequency and intensity with which it is administered.

    Researchers believe this study provides a sound basis for future investigation that may lead to the use of the brain cooling caps as a viable alternative for treating insomnia.

  3. Adam Ticknor says

    I had not put people into a cool/cold shower/bath because most folks don’t like them and get agitated just thinking about it, which stimulates people. I like the idea though. I also find that if I personally get myself cold I tend to wake up, again anecdotal on my part. I have noticed however that a lazy bath, something that becomes ritual and pampering before bed slows everything down. At least, slows it enough to create that shut down feeling and helps shut down that over stimulation in the mind. Basically shuts up some of those voices in folks heads. However I will look into it and try it out.

  4. Trevor says

    I’ve been working nights the last 3 months. Unfortunately, I have a 24/7 workplace. However, I have found that doing a cool shower before bed does help with getting to sleep. Waking up has been tough. So I like to try some of your protocol and see how it works for me. Also, my diet has been off more than I like to admit which hasn’t help things. I am excited about going and using Chris Kressner’s Personal Paleo Code. I figure that will really help also. That’s considering I’m turning 39 this week and the first 34 years I had insomnia due to process carbs. I don’t touch coffee since I’m allergic to it. And occassionally, I’ll have green tea.

  5. Melanie says

    Interesting post, Adam. I’m wondering-what’s your thinking about the weighted walks? Why weighted, and how’d you arrive at 10% body weight? It sounds great, intuitively…just curious to hear a little more.

  6. Adam Ticknor says


    The purpose of a loaded walk
    1. People walk a little more slowly which I think is important. Most people think they should be “super walking” and if we think people used to walk an average of 6 miles a day for water and food, they didn’t do this while speed walking. It was lazy. Americans tend to have a “higher, faster, meaner, more aggressive, attitiude,” and loaded walking gives them a sense of doing something.
    2. Most people that don’t walk all the time tend to over stride. Most Americans dont do a lot of walking. (Walking is @ minimum low impact and triplanar and an argument could be made it is more than average triplanar movement.) Overstriding will tear up a sacrum, pelvic floor and deep hip rotators. The weight vest and slow walking keep the pelvic floor integrated, as well as teach good movement patterns.
    3. Trunk stability is a forgotten system in the training world. It is taught in a myriad of ways but always do this when you do this.(planks, physio ball, lifting, swing a kb etc, not when you stand and do dishes, change your babies daiper etc.) There is a lack of low-level stability that in everyday movement, sitting, walking, standing, etc. The weight vest reminds people of what walking with stability, and if it is worn throughout the day, should feel like.
    4. It is VERY difficult to have bad posture when you are loaded evenly. Have you ever notice a fat/obese person?
    They have really, really good posture, because if they do not they would hurt more. Their joints would be in much worse shape than they are. Also, if you are a trainer have you noticed that it is easier to train a fat person than a skinny or skinny/fat out of shape person. This is because they have a better understanding of trunk stability and posture. Their movement patterns are usually much better. This is what and how a weight vest works. The magic is in an evenly loaded spine/trunk. Every other training modality, has gravity pulling one direction or the other on the spine. Try a 45# Overhead, back or front squat and then do the same thing with a 45# weight vest on. Or try a kossac with 1 or 2 25# kettlebells and then do one with a weight vest. It is a completely different experience because the load is even around the trunk.
    5. Why 10% bodyweight?

    I choose 10% because it is a number that ensures it is difficult enough to be felt but completely doable for a long period of time.

    To recap:
    • Better posture
    • Better stride
    • Better trunk stability
    • Good low level (steady state cardio) without over doing it
    • Makes people feel like they have accomplished something

  7. HP says

    Hi, great article. Dumb confirmation question on the morning cool shower. I believe your saying to do that before the loaded walk?

    • Adam Ticknor says

      It doesnt matter to me and havent seen enough difference to say one is better than the other. If you do it before your walk, it wakes you way up (especially if it is cold). If you shower after you walk you can wash off all the sweat funk from walking. However, I recommend that you finish sweating and naturally dry off (air dry) before showering. Since sunlight on the exposed skin stimulates the bodies production of Vit D, it needs to be reabsorbed by the body before you wash it off. If you shower before the body reabsorbs the oil it made then you wash off all the good stuff…if you are so inspired here is a detailed look at Vit D.

    • Adam Ticknor says

      It doesnt matter as long as it is good licorice. You can get the root and make your own tea. Just realize that it needs to be real licorice. Depending on where you are, there is almost always a high quality loose tea and herb shop in a major city. Or you can order from theses guys and email them with questions for high quality

  8. LJ says

    I like the idea of this protocol. I’ve done a huge meal in the morning and it made some difference on sleep but also made me get up earlier when I ate as soon as I rose, because my body was expecting food then and I think, like you noted, it’s too easy to walk too fast, too much. I think i’m good on food, but I have trouble incorporating the fitness stuff during the day…suggestions on something other than double unders or pistols? (sorry I don’t even know what a pistol is)
    As a woman, the food part is easier to get than the fitness part. I think for men it might be the other way around…

    • Adam Ticknor says

      As a trainer I see that once women get in the habit about spending 3 min 4 or 5x a day doing something you cant get them to stop doing it. It tends to take about 15 consecutive days. I have a program on youtube that walks people through movement.
      and it supports you in doing movement.
      -I believe the key is to do a push, pull, hip extension, a transit (move through space) and an inversion. Don’t do more than 3 min at a time.
      -If that is too much then start with tissue mobility and some cartwheels, or handstand practice.
      -If you can make it short and a little fun you are more likely to do it.
      -THe last thing is get a friend to do it with you or make a bet/deal with someone.
      -Make it a hefty fee for not completing it.

  9. John says


    Any advice for calming a racing mind? What about frequently waking up and not being able to get back to sleep as you feel “on edge”?


    • Adam Ticknor says

      first have you hopped into a tank yet?
      second are you able to communicate your issues with your partner or friend?
      Third, write down all the stuff that comes into your mind. I had a friend title a composition notebook, nighttime thoughts to go through in the morning. They put it next to the bed with a pen and if they woke up, without turning on a light, they wrote down their thoughts (there nighttime penmanship got better). After a few weeks if they put down the subject of what concerned them they were able to run with it in the morning and go back to sleep.
      A lot of times the racing mind is a cortisol/stress issue, as is being on edge not being able to get sleep. So any stress management program you can use:
      -proper food protocols
      -float tank
      -mobility practice
      -hot bath
      -basically designing some you time

      Any of these tools as well as others, facilitate slowing down the mind stuff. There are some supplement stuff you can do but I think it is much better to do a lifestyle change. So, instead of making the racing mind wrong, support it, saying ” Ok brain , I hear you will write it down and get after it in the morning.”
      Good luck
      Last thing try eating when it is light out, not when it is dark.

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