How to Build High Performance Recovery Sessions (HPRT): Explosive Exercise Selection

If you missed the first installment on building high performance recovery sessions, you can find it here: Part 1.

Let’s get back into it! 

The main focus of the high performance recovery session is to finish the exercise portion of the session with an explosive movement of some kind. 

A Clean with no catch is an excellent choice for the explosive component of an HPRT session.

A Clean with no catch is an excellent choice for the explosive component of an HPRT session.

These would be exercises like speed deadlifts - but it’s important to note you generally want to drop the bar at the top to minimize the eccentric loading. A box jump would be a good choice, too, as the eccentric loading is minimal. Stay away from any movement with a high eccentric loading like depth drops, broad jumps, vertical jumps, and weightlifting movements that involve the catch. Even medicine ball throws will work, as long as the eccentric damage remains low. 

Usually, I will pair this explosive work with upper back work. Honestly, it’s just a nice opportunity to get in extra pulling volume. There’s no secret key to using a pull paired here. 

In my experience, if the athlete is recovered enough to use something like a speed deadlift, you can realistically go up pretty heavy on these as long as you try to keep the speed high and drop it at the top. 

How do you decide if the athlete is “recovered enough”? This is well beyond this post’s scope, but you can look to HRV, using any variety of apps that generate a recovery score, the 10-second finger tap test, and good ol’ subjective gut feeling based on knowing your athletes really well. 

If I’m working with a big group or a team, I’d probably choose to use MB throws or box jumps, as they take much less 1-on-1 coaching. If you do choose speed deadlift, keep in mind the state that their bodies are in when you are deciding if you are going to stick to lower percentages or go higher. The intensity can really vary, but the main goal is to squeeze out some high effort speed and power production. 

A good guideline that I tend to stick closely to on speed work is Prilepin’s chart, which gives you guidelines on total volume at certain percentages of 1RM. This isn’t something set in stone, you can play around with this and decide what works best for your athletes. Typically staying a little more on the conservative side works best, in my experience. 

After finishing the explosive portion, we do a little more light aerobic activity for three to five minutes, and then back to the breathing drills for at least 3-5 minutes to bring them back into the relaxed state we found at the beginning of the session. Finally, the session is finished with stretching and SMR, as needed.

It’s easy for these sessions to take an eternity! But keep them to under 60-min.

The whole idea for an HPRT session is to get the athlete’s CNS firing again so they start to feel normal and ready, not just loosened up from a warmup and stretching. 

Sample Session:

A well timed and planned HPRT will get the individual feeling like an athlete again. This is typically why I will use this kind of session right before practices if the athlete is feeling run down. 

90/90 Breathing w/Hammies 2x5
90/90 Breathing Pullover 2x5
Breathing Bear Plank Mtn Climber 2x5

Rock Walk x2 ea way
Banded 1/2 Kneeling Ankle Mob x8
Banded 1/2 Kneeling Dorsiflexion x8
Goal Posts x8
Kneeling Bench T-Spine Mob x5
Hip Hurdle Mobility x5/way

5-min Versaclimber
MB Slams x10
5-min HICT on Bike
MB Side Throw x5/side
A1 Sled Push 3x1
A2 Carry 3x1
B1 Trap Bar Drop DL 4x3
B2 Inv Row 4xAMRAP
3-min light bike
3-min Relaxation Breathing Position on Roller
Roll, stretch
— Sample HPRT Session by Sarah Walls

I used a similar system to get my athletes in the college setting ready for strength sessions, they would do an olympic lift variation as the last part of their warm-up to really get their CNS primed and ready. This takes them from not being ready for practice at all, up to maybe 80-85%, where they can still have a productive practice. 

The HPRT approach does not have to only be reserved for elite athletes, it can be used for high school athletes with a competition the next day, or even hard-driving trainees that enjoy training very frequently but who have a tough time recovering from big workouts every time (think powerlifters, CrossFitters, bodybuilders, and weightlifters). 

This is a versatile method that can be used both as a standalone session, or right before practices to make sure the team is primed and ready. So give this a shot before your next hard practice/session and see how it works for you!

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