To learn how to recovery efficiently, we must first understand the term active recovery. What exactly IS active recovery? Fortunately, it really is as easy as it sounds. Active Recovery is simply exercise used as a tool for recovery. It might sound a little counter-productive, but just trust me here. Active recovery has been proven in multiple studies to increase recovery through relaxation, as well as facilitate the removal of lactic acid from your muscles. Keep reading and I will attempt to walk you through a few of the most basic steps to active recovery.
We’re going to start with the day following your lower body workout. If you have two lower body days, that’s fine too. You can implement this exercise the day after each session. We’re going to pick from a pool of GPP exercises. GPP is short for General Physical Preparedness, which is just a complicated term for work capacity. Generally, these exercises are done at high intensity levels either in a circuit format or coupled with other GPP exercises. The goal of GPP is usually to build your work capacity, or the amount of work your body is capable of performing, but here we are going to alter it just a bit and gear it toward recovery.
We are only looking for (1) exercise here. Two of the most common are sled drags and sledgehammers. Sled drags are performed by harnessing up to a weighted sled and pulling it over a distance. Sledgehammers involved swinging a sledgehammer from the right, from the left, and from overhead down onto a tire or similar implement. Both of these exercises, when performed at a low-intensity, are an ideal form of active recovery.
Perform the sledgehammers in a circuit as shown:
20s right arm swings
20s left arm swings
20s overhead swings
Repeat 3x. Rest no longer than 2 minutes between sets.
Perform the sled drags in sets of 2-4 with a low load and high distance (200ft).
And if you’re hard pressed to find these materials – a simple fun run will do the trick. The key to proper active recovery is to keep the load and intensity low.
As with GPP, plyometrics may also be used as a form of active recovery, provided the intensity is kept down. Plyometrics are generally done at high intensity levels with the goal of building power and explosiveness. Seen as how our goal here is recovery, we are not looking to use high-impact jumps. We want low-medium impact jumps such as ankle jumps and low box jumps. If you do a little research you will find that there are many more that may be used. Choose two or three of these low-medium impact plyometrics exercises and perform them in 2 sets of 10 reps each. As with the GPP recovery, perform these movements the day immediately following your lower body work.
Don’t go overboard with these methods. More work is actually much less beneficial when it comes to recovery. Keep all of the loads very light. But most importantly, make sure your form is spot on with all of the exercises listed above. If you don’t know what you’re doing, please do not attempt to use these methods.