An Active Recovery Day

Mountain BikingToday is a good day to talk about Active Recovery. The average temperature was 80-85°F, there’s a beach across the street, the kids needed entertaining, and I have a bike and a set of Powerblocks in the garage. I pretty much couldn’t escape from exercise on a day like today even if I wanted to.

So What is Active Recovery?

Active Recovery is the process of exercising only for the purpose of stimulating the muscles enough to:

  • increase blood flow throughout the body…
  • thereby increasing nutrient partitioning throughout the body
  • extra calories burned without traumatizing muscle fibers
  • quicker muscle recovery from the week’s vicious workouts

Here is what I happen to have done today:

  • Low intensity upper body weightlifting
    11am – bicep curls into arnold shoulder presses into a slow eccentric hammer curls – 45 lbs on the Powerblocks for 3 sets of 15 reps
  • On and off-road biking
    All day long – I pumped up the old bike tires and road all over the park and beach across the street from my house. I would say I got in a good total of 1.5-2 hours of bike riding throughout the day, including some significant mountain biking, hopping over trees and rocks, up and down hills, and through nasty grainy sand.

    I am not really a mountain biker so I take pride in only having crashed once; at one point I jumped a log and landed in 6 inches of loose white beach sand… I bailed out when the front tire sunk in and the back tire started coming up over my head, nearly avoiding a violent confrontation with the bike itself, instead opting to incur a massive sand rash on my already-sunburned shin. All-in-all I was pleased with the outcome.

  • Swimming
    2pm and 5pm – I took the kids to the beach, which is pretty much a guarantee that I would end up in the water at some point in time. The best part of swimming in a river or the ocean: once you swim out past a certain point the kids won’t follow, thus providing some freedom to swim without physical interruption. I hit a solid combined 45 minutes of breast stroke and overhand stroke over the course of the day.
  • Sprinting
    At some point in the day I ran a couple sprints on the beach to see exactly how fast and coordinated I still am. It was a sad affair, but I probably did far better than the average 30 year old American male.

So this was my example day of Active Recovery. At least it would be Active Recovery if I were actually getting to the gym on a regular basis. Fortunately I just landed a full-time 9 month contract with Fidelity in Merrimack, NH, so with even the slightest bit of luck my future will consist of 3 kickboxing workouts and 2 weightlifting workouts per week. I am looking forward to it.

In any case, this is a perfect example of Active Recovery. This type of workout can be performed on a weekend off-day for extra-workout benefits, or for a full week if you are recovering from several solid months of hardcore lifting and you need a week off from severe trauma.

Active Recovery really is key to increasing work capacity, burning extra calories, and stimulating recovery. Give it a try on your day off, or for a week if you think you are slipping into either overtraining or burn-out.

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One Response to “An Active Recovery Day”

  1. I get told I over train all the time, however that active rest day sounds good to me as your still putting in a few hours work. If I have a complete day off, often I feel worse going back to the gym – would you recommend that having an active rest day such as an hour on a x trainer and lifting a few light weights, maybe some abs could be more effective. I am coming to the final week of the werewolf programme 3.0 (21 days) so I am interested to hear your thoughts on what to do between the end and starting the next cycle? Cheers

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