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How to do Active Recovery

While I was still playing soccer at NC State, I noticed that during every Monday morning practice I would feel lethargic and really stiff, for no reason. Up until senior year, we had every Sunday off, so you would think that a day of lounging around the house and regrouping for the next week would make me feel better come Monday morning. However, the exact opposite seemed to happen week in and week out.

What I have found is that if I spend any day just hanging around on my couch, my workout suffers significantly the next day. In particular, my hips are extremely tight, making squatting uncomfortable and painful. It is hard to do any sort of athletic movement if squatting causes pain, so you can imagine how badly I would perform on Monday’s. Because of this, I have started doing active recovery on one of my off days, and just staying generally active on the other. More or less every week looks like this: hard, full intensity workouts Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, active recovery on Thursday, full workout Friday and Saturday, and general movement on Sunday. Mentally I need a day out of the gym, so Sundays tend to be something as simple as taking a walk, mowing the lawn, or otherwise spending some time outdoors. I always feel refreshed and ready to take on the week after that.

By now you’re probably thinking, that sounds great, but what exactly entails “active recovery”? To be honest, most anything can be active recovery, but I have found that my body best responds by doing some constant movement for around 30 minutes, followed by some stretching and foam rolling. An example day may look like the following:

30 Minutes for Quality:

  • 10 Calorie Row
  • Single leg hip thrust x 10 each leg
  • Farmers Carry (or suitecase, or waiter, etc)
  • Plank variation

Basically, at Summit Strength I try to combine a light cardio movement with loaded carries and bodyweight work. After the 30 minutes is over, move into some stretching and yoga poses for 10-15 minutes. The entire thing takes a maximum of an hour, and you’ll leave feeling refreshed and ready to work hard again the next day.

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