Today's blog is Part 1 on our Recovery Series by Coach Hannes and he will be discussing: What is active recovery? And how do I apply it to my own training?
I deal with many different questions from many different clients on a weekly basis regarding recovery or resting. ‘Can I train every day?’ 'I know I should only be training 3x per week' or 'Which days should I train or rest?'
These questions come from people in all levels of fitness and all walks of life; long-distance runners, CrossFit athletes, rehabilitation clients, individuals who want to lose unwanted weight and even triathletes. Very different training approaches, yet they all have on thing in common - and that is that they want to reach their goal as quickly as possible.
My job is to get them to their goal as fast as possible and as safe as possible. I must juggle maximum specific conditioning towards their goals while keeping them recovered and ready to train to the max the next day. There is a fine balance between pushing yourself hard to reach your goal and doing so not to burn out or regress in your training.
But that’s easy, right? Just train one day, rest the next and continue this until you reach your goal (i.e. train every other day). This is not always optimal and in fact, may even be counterproductive to your goal!
The truth is that when you are doing nothing or resting, you are losing out on reaching your goal as quickly as possible. Resting is recovery, right? Yes, but it’s not always the best way to recover. And this is where ‘Active Recovery ‘is so important.
‘Active Recovery’ is simple: think of it as any low impact activity that gets your heart rate up a bit and the blood flowing to flood the muscles. That blood flow is key because our blood is jam-packed with the exact nutrients to recover, refuel and clear out metabolic waste.
"Active Recovery" can take the form of many different things. It could even be the same exercise or activity that you performed rigorously the day before, just with much less intensity.
For example: Do you remember the first time you did 10 pushups + 10 ring rows + 10 squats + 10 hollow rocks x 3 rounds for a warmup....and then you needed about 15 minutes just to recover?! Now a few weeks down the line this routine is easy, much less intense than the first time you did it. In terms of your physiological make-up, this went from a strenuous routine and became a low-to- medium-intensity routine. Yet it involves movement, stretching and gets your heart rate up which doesn’t just have to be used to get you ready for the exercise routine ahead but also assist you in recovering from the training you did the day before.
Active recovery can also be a light jog/walk, playing with your dogs and/or kids, a short stretching routine or a variety of other options. It just needs to stay low intensity to promote blood flow to help that recovery process.
I’m a firm believer in ‘movement heals’. Your body is made to move. When it doesn’t move things simply go wrong. Old niggles re-appear, you turn soft, weak and demotivated. To keep the momentum going you need to keep moving. The trick is to change the way you move and move differently every so often as to recover sufficiently so that you can keep moving.
So, can you train every day? Yes, you can, but you must mix it up all towards your common goal. Next post I’ll show you how.
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