If you’re looking for ways to speed up your muscle recovery, look no further. Active recovery has been shown to be an effective way to improve workout recovery time so that you can get back into the gym sooner and start building muscle.
What is Active Recovery?
Active recovery is a light recovery workout that’s done to speed up your workout recovery time. There are two ways to recover after exercise – passive recovery, and active recovery. Passive recovery is plain and simple – rest. It’s like you take a day off from any fitness related activities.
There’s nothing wrong with passive recovery, and I recommend everyone take a day or even a week off from exercise every so often. However, if you have a goal of recovering as quickly as possible so that you can get back in the gym again, look to further than active recovery.
There are a few things that keep us from making progress in the gym – under-recovery being one of them. Working out the same muscle before it has had a chance to fully recover is a sure way to see your progress move backwards. Workout recovery time will vary depending on factors such as workout intensity, volume, and diet, among other things. It could take 24 hours, or it could take days. Muscle soreness could even last up to a week if you haven’t worked out in a while.
Whatever the case, you can speed up this muscle repair process by incorporating active recovery. Active recovery forces nutrient-filled blood into your muscles. This extra blood flow on your days off helps you get the essential nutrients to your muscles that are necessary for regeneration.
The fact of the matter is that no one can go at 100% intensity day in and day out. You need time between workouts to recover. Throughout history, athletes have been incorporating hard workout days with light workout days. They might not have considered those light workout days as active recovery, but in essence, they are. They use the light workout days to enable them to get in additional workouts without the detrimental effects of over-training.
For active recovery to be effective, it must complement – not interfere with your fitness goals.
Active Recovery Guidelines
- Low Volume – You don’t want to tear down your muscle again. The point of active recovery is to recover. Keep your work volume low.
- Low Intensity – Straining your central nervous system (CNS) is not going to help you recover. Keep your exercise intensity on the low side so that you are mentally and physically ready for your next “real” workout.
- Get Heart Rate Up – For active recovery to be effective, you need to get your heart rate up so that you can get some extra blood flow to your muscles. Nothing crazy though. 60% of your max heart rate should be as high as you need to go. Any higher, and you’re venturing into the workout zone.
Active Recovery Workout Ideas
- Walking – Go for a walk around the neighborhood. Go to the park, or take your dog for a walk.
- Biking – Take your bike out for a scenic ride. Enjoy the fresh air while you recover.
- Yoga – Work on your mental health as you pump nutrient-filled blood to your muscles.
- Sports – Have some fun playing a sport you enjoy. Don’t go crazy. Shoot some baskets or do some light rock climbing.
- Technique – Use active recovery days to work on your technique. Sport specific technique drills are a great way to solve two problems at once.
- Massage – Not really active, but it serves the same purpose. It helps get blood flow and essential nutrients to the muscles, and it feels great too.
If you aren’t making progress, under-recovery might be your problem. Place more emphasis on your rest and recovery. Mix up your passive rest days with some active recovery days. Just be active. After all, having an active lifestyle is active recovery in its truest form.