Recovery Workouts: Good, Better, Best

Anyone who is focused on training hard to achieve specific goals through weight training, sport play, conditioning or a combination, is going to need to be smart about planning in some recovery sessions.

An appropriately planned recovery session will take a body (and mind) that may feel somewhere between achey to awful and leave it feeling markedly improved.

I like to use a recipe for good, better, best in terms of recommendations for these types of sessions.

***Oh, and it should be noted that for the scope of this post I'm only mentioning actual movement for recovery. Other components that must be considered are: sleep, nutrition, hydration, etc.

GOOD

 Everyday chores can be a part of a "Good" recovery session... mopping is one of my favorites (I'm so serious).

Everyday chores can be a part of a "Good" recovery session... mopping is one of my favorites (I'm so serious).

Get out and move! Go for a walk, ride a bike, mow your lawn, take a yoga class, etc. This type of light activity will get blood moving and thus a little recovery for your body. This is an adequate option for people who are relatively new to exercise or who only train 1-2x/week but find themselves quite sore, lethargic, or achy in the following day or two.

BETTER

To be a little more precise, we want to take the body through some full range of motion activities. This helps stretch out the muscles and move the joints dynamically while also getting some light conditioning work.

Activities in the Better category could include a dynamic warm-up, followed by some light strengthening exercises, and finished off with 20-min or so of light aerobic work. This is appropriate for recreational lifters and athletes.

BEST

For the competitive athlete there is not much time to waste. The more advanced an athlete, the more it becomes necessary to find an experienced coach to help aid in every aspect of their physical preparation (and recovery!).

Daily training sessions mean recovering as quickly as possible is crucial to continued improvement and success. In the instances of professional athletes or those who like to train like them, you will want to get a very specific recovery plan tailored for you through the intense blocks of competition or preparation. This will generally include:

  • soft tissue work via massage or SMR
  • breathing drills
  • dynamic stretching
  • light prehabilitative work
  • 20-30 min of HR zone aerobic work via a combination of traditional biking, jogging, etc and things like light medicine ball tosses, and calisthenic work
  • explosive weight lifting movement (just a few sets and reps here, folks)
 Using heart rate to efficiently manage either performance or recovery is the way to go for serious athletes. Here is a session that I conducted on myself. While this might not fit a usual "recovery" protocol, for me that's what this session was. You can see fairly even peaks and valleys staying within the zones I wanted to train that day.

Using heart rate to efficiently manage either performance or recovery is the way to go for serious athletes. Here is a session that I conducted on myself. While this might not fit a usual "recovery" protocol, for me that's what this session was. You can see fairly even peaks and valleys staying within the zones I wanted to train that day.

 This graph shows my heart rate variability during the same session shown above. You can clearly see the exactly inverse relationship that  HRV  has with HR through a training session by comparing both graphs.

This graph shows my heart rate variability during the same session shown above. You can clearly see the exactly inverse relationship that HRV has with HR through a training session by comparing both graphs.

When possible, Best recovery sessions should take place on a day when no other training is scheduled. However, for elite athletes who may be competing several times a week and practicing in between, a workout like this should be placed the morning after competition and before practice. It will require minimal energy and serve to wake the body up and reenergize it before practicing.

Any of the above options should to be tailored to fit the individual's needs, but these are the ingredients for a successful recovery!