How to be smart in your rest: the use of active recovery
Every time we work out, our body is activated and undergoes a series of internal imbalances in muscles and beyond. These changes are necessary to create the physical adaptations that will guarantee you the expected physical results, but sometimes such changes take longer to occur, if not supported by some actions in the moment when you are not training.
The easiest way to ensure that your body rests is passive recovery: you just do not do any physical activity and wait patiently for the fatigue after the training session to disappear independently.
However, it is well known that passive recovery is in most cases pretty ineffective; preferring a type of active recovery leads to greater benefits on the physical point of view and performance, thus maximizing the yield of your training.
Before analysing what are the strategies to optimize active recovery, let’s start to analyse what recovery means, and in what instances you can do active recovery.
Active recovery between intervals
Whether you’re doing Boost, where time dictates the rhythm of your workout, or Mighty, where weightlifting repetitions are the main indicators of the workout, you can try to optimize your workout by taking advantage of active recovery between work intervals and series. Always keep in mind that the recovery times shown on the Skillathletic class monitor are closely related to the type of training.
Depending on the intensity and effort of the workout, there are different active recovery intervals needed to supply the muscle with the energy needed to carry it out.
In Skillathletic classes, sometimes recovery is the same for everyone, ranging from 30 seconds to 3 minutes; other times it is subjective and refers to the heart rate frequency reached during training.
In both cases, to make the most of your active recovery, try to stay laser focused on your workout, showing what is prescribed in the next block of work, preparing the necessary Skilltools or asking for any clarification to the coach.
Try to stand up and not to sit on the ground: the temptation might be hard, but getting up and start again will be even harder! All you have to do is take deep breaths and keep moving: for example, walking slowly on Skillmill can give your body a break and prepare it for the countdown before you start the next exercises.
If you feel your muscles start to stiffen too much because of the high intensity of your training, you can do some dynamic stretching exercises during active recovery to relax them. In this phase, avoid static stretching: your body must be aware that it is preparing for new stimuli and not the final cool down phase.
Post-workout active recovery
You have just finished your training session and you clearly feel that your body needs time to return to a state of rest. After the stress you have been under during the workout, especially in the last few minutes or seconds of maximum intensity, you will have to stomach accelerated heartbeats, fast breathing and muscle pain, all of this with an abundant side of sweat. Taking advantage of active recovery will allow you to get rid of these sensations more easily than by falling to the ground or standing still.
Your heart, thanks to continuous movement, will gradually return to a state of rest faster than with passive recovery. Muscle pain will be reduced thanks to a rapid reduction of waste metabolites found in muscles and blood.
Aerobic activity is the first step to meet your body’s needs. To facilitate this, if during your Skillathletic class you have trained for example with a Skillrow, do active recovery with the same, so to stimulate the movement you have done during training.
Keeping Skillrow as our point of reference, adapt active recovery to your physical structure, rowing to an adequate intensity so to match your body weight, maintaining a frequency of about 20 strokes per minute. A quarter of an hour of activity will help you easily return to a restful condition.
Similarly, if your Brave session included squat repetitions with loads close to the maximum, you can end the work block with the addition of one or two sets at half the weight prescribed during training, to facilitate the flow of metabolites that have accumulated at the level of the lower limbs, recalling the same technical gesture.
Active recovery during rest days
The desire to achieve one’s goals can sometimes lead to the desire to train as much as possible, daily, relentlessly. It is important to remember that our body needs the right balance between training and recovery; within the week, always choose at least one or two days of recovery in which to take a break from intense workouts.
These days of rest, however, do not forbid you to go to the gym for an active recovery session: take advantage of it to find the best strategy to avoid turning the day of recovery into a day of total absence.
The objective of an active recovery day is to enhance blood flow in the body, so as to keep metabolites and hormones produced as a result of training in circulation; the body with a light physical activity will not experience particular stress and will rebalance more quickly.
On the day of recovery, in fact, you can still train following a program at a much lower intensity and volume than your usual workouts. You can dedicate yourself to outdoor aerobic activities, such as a bike ride or a walk in the park, or use the Skill Line for your session on the day of active recovery.
Training volume: 15 – 30 minutes
On a Skillbike, for example, pedal at 60 rpm, checking, thanks to the heart rate monitor, to stay around 50-60% of your maximum heart rate (equivalent to the blue colour in heart rate tracking) for 15 minutes; choose a smooth gear so as not to create localised fatigue in your legs.
If you are a fan of Fast and running training, you can use Skillmill for your active recovery, by running (jogging) for 12-14 minutes at 35% of the maximum speed peak during sprint training.
Following the aerobic part, use the recovery day to devote 8-10 minutes to muscle relaxation and stretching. Choose a relaxing music and relax your muscles with stretching exercises that will promote the health of your joints, thus improving the quality of your musculoskeletal system.
Do not overdo it
Active recovery is therefore the best way to make the most of the rest periods. However, remember that we are always talking about recovery. Learn to listen to your body and the signals it gives you every day, always make sure you do not exaggerate: the main objective of active recovery is to rest and support the body after intense efforts.
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