Active Recovery

Recently, after a hard workout, I feel tired -and the next day I just feel beat up.  Tired. Sore. Hungry. Unmotivated.Classic signs that I might be overtraining.  An idea that seem so unlikely because I’ve worked out a lot harder before and been just fine.  I’m tracking my food and taking notes on that so see if maybe it’s my diet, but in the meantime I’m spending a lot more time in Active Recovery.

  • Active Recovery is using blood flow to remove lactic acid and other waste materials from muscles so that we can continue to exercise and heal.
  • Active Recovery is continuing an action or activity at a much lower rate after a hard exercise session or a long event (say running a half marathon).  It is the cool-down.
  • Active Recovery is repeating a workout a day or two later at a lower intensity and lower volume to assist in healing.

So there’s a lot to active recovery.  And, I’ll admit it, I haven’t been good about using this tool as well as I could .  But what does this all mean?

When I weight train, I often go fairly hard- working to get close to muscle exhaustion failure in the 3rd set or so.  If I were a good lifter, I would then take time between sets to actively recover- some dynamic stretches (easily swinging my arms or legs), some static stretches, walking around or easy jogging in place- something to encourage the blood pumping, reoxygenating the muscles, and clearing lactic acid from the muscles.

Yeah, I usually stand there breathless and sweaty, take a sip of water, and get ready for the next set.

Near the end of a training session, the ideal actions would be to do what are often called “finishing” exercises in the weight lifting schools: after working complex, large muscle groups – you move down to exercising the smaller muscles groups and supporting muscle systems.  The ideal reason to do this: keep the blood flowing at a lower rate so that it help in healing.  Move slower, and less intensely letting the body cool down slowly.  At the least, I could jump on a treadmill or elliptical and have a 10 minute or so go at some steady cardio.

Me?  I tend to go all out until I’m so tired that I drop my water bottle and cannot hold on to equipment.  Then I take a warm to cool shower to cool down.  (heads head in shame at admitting this.)

Two or three days later, I should return to a recovery workout.  This is a session using light weights and high reps to increase blood flow to the muscles while limiting micro-trauma to the muscles.  (If you are a baseball fan- this the “easy throwing day” that starting pitchers use between their starts).  A recovery workout could be a full-body workout or simply a few exercises added on to a complimentary workout.

Yeah.  This just doesn’t happen at all.

Because I’ve felt so beat up lately, I’m taking some time to work out this plan and seriously implement a plan of active recovery.


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