An Active Recovery Day

Another Blast From the Past

Looking back in my archives, I found this post from 2008; roughly 2 home relocations ago. About 8 years have passed, the ‘kids’ are teenagers now, the beach is in the backyard now instead of across the street, I still have those Powerblocks, and still love sprinting.

Rest dayToday however it’s about 30°F out, 3 days before Christmas, and it’s snowing. Sprints will be much more difficult, biking is nearly impossible, and the unheated garage is freeeeeezing! I’ve been working diligently as a personal garage gym builder though, and now I also have a doorway pull up bar, push up equipment, an ab roller, springs, and big ole rubber tubes that work great for dynamic resistance training.

If you’ve no idea what I’m talking about, read the follow piece that details my thoughts on active recovery in 2008 and what I accomplished on a warm sunny day in June. I still feel the same way about active recovery, and if you’re not using it on the occasional rest day you’re missing out on fun activities that can help engage your friends and family, burn extra calories, and improve the recovery process from your strenuous gym workouts.

Even medical journals documenting active recovery research have found that, “active recovery can be prescribed and still retain performance benefits over passive recoveries”. Don’t you miss out!

June 21, 2008 – A Day of Active Recovery

Today 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, and frankly It was a near-perfect example of Active Recovery, if not a little overly ambitious. I could maybe dial down on the sprinting a bit, since that will tear up the legs as much as squats and deads.

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. With any luck my future will also consist of kickboxing workouts, yoga, and TRX workouts. I am looking forward to it.

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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