Fitness & Active Recovery
By Tiv Nightingale
Personal Trainer – Group Trainer, Step into Life Woonona
Whether you’re training outdoors or indoors, when it comes to making the best gains, proper rest and recovery is just as important as what physical exercise you’re doing. Now we don’t want to just sit and do nothing. And we shouldn’t. An “off day” doesn’t mean you can’t keep moving, even if you’re still feeling the burn from your last workout. We have ‘Weekend Warrior Pursuits’ but if you’re knocking over 4 to 5 workouts a week, active recovery may well be the critical balance in maintaining that train to recover balance.
Active recovery is defined as an easier workout compared to your normal routine other than its very opposite ‘Passive Recovery’, which is complete rest from exercise.
Typically ‘Active Recovery’ workouts should be done on an off day from training. Generally an active recovery workout is less intense and has less volume. Doing gentle exercise can greatly assist in helping your muscles recover and to prepare your body for your next session.
What’s so good about Active Recovery?
There are many merits to active recovery and this article is not about the pros and cons of it use, or what cycle of your fitness program you’re at. Whether you’ve just begun and exercise program or a season fitness aficionado, we’re here to discuss how it can be a part of all fitness goals.
There are numerous theories in regards to its benefits:
- Less intense exercise doesn’t add to training stress
- Actually maximizes the body’s metabolic pathways to recover
- Psychologically many people feel better when they exercise daily
- Importantly daily movements can only burn more calories, possibly increasing one’s potential for greater weight loss
Active Recovery the smart way
One of the biggest problems related to active recovery is that people assume that more exercise will allow them to lose more fat. So many variables can be weighed for and against in such a theory. As long as you are on a sensible training program, your eating habits have a far greater impact in how you look then a couple of extra exercise sessions.
A common concern amongst Personal Trainers is when our clients over train. Adding an active recovery program or even resting is vitally important, not doing so can quickly dissipate your fitness gains thus leading to burn out and ultimately losing steam towards your goals.
Low risk ways to Active Recovery
Walking – Yep walk it off. Now that doesn’t mean going on a huge hike through the woods, be aware of your current fitness level. Just get those joints moving, as it will increase one’s sense of well being.
Light weight lifting – performing exercises that may have made you sore but at a much lighter weight may be great for restorative applications without overloading your muscles. That is being gentle.
Yoga – My personal favorite. Now in common use across our football codes especially at the elite level. Whether you’re using it as a stand-alone fitness program, or as an addition to your physical pursuits, it can be used effectively in your program.
Cycling – As long as you don’t go beyond your current fitness levels, it’s a great way to build one’s aerobic capacity while recovering.
Foam-rolling – also known as SMR or Self Myofascial Release. Foam rolling has allowed many athletes to train at high levels, great for relieving stiffness that comes with a heavy training workload. Another specialty SMR item is the lacrosse ball. Both implements can be used to massage your muscles. Focus on large muscle groups and pressure points, though try to avoid bony areas and joints.
Swimming/free diving – take into consideration your fitness level. You can have a great swimming workout without the added pressure on your joints as its lows stress
Let us know how it goes if you try out one or more of these recovery workout ideas!