Recovery is important for getting the most out of your fitness programming to avoid burnout and injury due to over-training.
Have you ever asked, "What should I do on my off-days? How much activity is too much? Should I do something active on all of my off-days?"
What Not To Do
We all know how our bodies feel the day after a challenging workout. It’s common to experience muscle soreness, inflammation, and fatigue after a tough workout session.
When you are feeling this way, it is very tempting to plop on the couch and binge television to avoid feeling that soreness. However, as research suggests, doing nothing might not be the best recovery technique.
The goal of any recovery technique is to help the body return to homeostasis. In other words, after you’ve fully recovered from exercise, you should feel refreshed, no longer sore, and physically ready for your next workout.
Active recovery does this by using low-intensity movement to increase blood flow and simultaneously bring oxygen-rich blood to tissues and remove the cellular waste produced during exercise.
Think of active recovery as a way to promote delivering nutrients to your muscles so that they can recover and heal at a faster rate than if you were sitting on the couch.
Typical active recovery activities between exercise days include walking, swimming, cycling, jogging, yoga, or active stretching.
When deciding what to do between-sessions, you'll want to consider your current training program's intensity level.
The goal is to balance out your week with a healthy mix of medium to high-intensity training with some low-intensity training for recovery. The key is to find an activity that’s low-intensity and keeps your heart rate at 30-60% of your maximum heart rate.
If you don’t track your heart rate or don’t know what your maximum is, you can use the talk-test. If you can hold a steady conversation while doing the activity, it's probably the right intensity to be considered active recovery.
For those who consider running to be an actual workout (Coach Holly over here raising her hand), a jog might be too intense to be active recovery and might over-tax your system in the long run.
Can you keep a steady flow of conversation while jogging? If not, it would be wise to find another activity for active recovery.
How Long and How Often
There's not necessarily a recommended length of time for these active recovery sessions, so we suggest you follow general exercise guidelines which recommend at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day.
When done right, active recovery should feel like an off-day compared with your regular training, so fill every rest day with your preferred active recovery activity.
Choose the Right Activity for You
Choose an activity that you enjoy.
Monitor your performance to make sure your not going too hard - do you feel rested and ready for your next workout when the time comes?
Consider including stretching or getting a massage as part of your recovery routine *your welcome*.
Let's get that blood flowing and those muscles rejuvenated for our next workout!