As with all exercise, recovery workouts vary from person to person and are influenced by your overall program goals as well as the type of recovery you need. Therefore, you can have many different types of recovery workouts, depending on the situation.
Recovery workouts can be routinely scheduled into your workout plan or added to your routine as needed. Both methods are effective, but explaining how to schedule them into a workout involves discussing many program design variables and is beyond the scope of this article. Therefore, this article focuses on how to add recovery workouts to your existing exercise program.
There are essentially two ways to incorporate recovery workouts into an existing program and you can use either or both ways, depending on your particular needs. The first way is to replace an existing workout with a recovery one. The second way is to keep all your existing workouts the same and add recovery workouts on top of them. Each approach is useful, but one approach will work better than the other in many situations.
When replacing an existing workout with a recovery one, you are essentially causing a small decrease in the overall difficulty of your exercise routine. This can be a good thing if you do many challenging workouts in a week, especially if you find yourself getting run down or experiencing higher than normal amounts of muscle soreness and stiffness.
On the other hand, if your routine is not very demanding, decreasing the overall difficulty could be a bad thing, particularly if your body is not being challenged enough by your regular workouts.
If you keep all your current workouts the same and add new recovery workouts to the mix, you will be adding to the total volume (amount of work performed). Even though recovery workouts are designed to make your body feel better, increasing the total work of a training program that already has a high volume may not have the desired positive effect.
There are a number of things to think about before using recovery workouts in your routine, but with a few tips and a little planning, you will see that it is really not too complicated. It all starts with paying attention to your body and being aware of how you feel, both in general and after different types of workouts.
Everyone recovers from workouts at a different rate and when you understand how your body responds to exercise, you learn how hard you can push yourself. Then you can use that information to figure out when you need to incorporate recovery workouts.
It is important to note that your workouts are not the only thing that determines how much recovery you need. Nutrition, stress, sleep, overall fitness level, and other factors have a significant impact on your ability to recover from exercise. As a result, your ability to recover may change over time, depending on what is going on in your life.
The good news is that even though things change, the signs that you need to add recovery workouts should be fairly consistent. Some of the most common signs that you need to add recovery workouts are increases in muscle soreness or joint stiffness.
Increasingly stiff joints and sore muscles can be caused by performing too many challenging workouts, especially when the use of heavy weights is combined with a lack of stretching. In these situations, a good recovery workout strategy is to take a day of heavy weight training and replace it with a workout using light weights.
Or better yet, stay away from weights altogether and perform a workout primarily using cable exercises. Cables or other types of resistance tubing/bands are great for recovery workouts, because they cause minimal joint stress and still provide a decent stimulus to your muscles.
This type of workout does not have the same effect as lifting heavy weights, but your goal is to recover and not to increase maximal fitness attributes. Performing easier cable exercises should help your joints recover faster, decrease muscle soreness, and make your body feel much better than if you constantly push yourself with heavy weights.
Another great alternative for a recovery workout, if available, is swimming or other types of water workout. A pool is a great environment for recovery workouts, because water significantly decreases the impact on your body. This is particularly useful when trying to minimize the stress on your joints.
Sore muscles and stiff joints are not the only reasons to use recovery workouts. Many people, especially those who have exercised for a long time, start to feel the effects of burnout or mental fatigue. These problems are often due to a lack of variety in a training program, so a good recovery workout should involve performing workouts or activities that are significantly different from your normal routine.
For instance, if you typically lift weights, then just doing some new exercises or using lighter weights may not be your best bet. A better idea is to do a completely different type of activity, such as biking, jogging, or swimming. If you prefer, you could also play a sport or perform other physical activity instead of doing a traditional workout. When training to prevent burnout or mental fatigue, you should ideally try to perform a workout that is enjoyable or at least interesting.
Regardless of the type of exercise or activity you use for a recovery workout, the important thing is to make sure it suits the type of recovery you need. For example, if you feel run down from doing too many hard workouts, then replacing your normal workout with a completely different type of exercise will not help much if the new workout is as challenging as your original one.
Another thing to keep in mind is that recovery workouts can serve a purpose in addition to enhancing recovery. They can be used for working on weaknesses or improving things that may not be addressed by your regular exercise program.
For instance, you could create a recovery workout made up of injury prevention or rehab exercises. You can also use a recovery workout to work on attributes such as balance and stabilization, which are often ignored in traditional training programs.
It is really up to you when it comes to determining what type of recovery workout works best in a given situation. Just try to pay attention to how you feel on a daily basis, factor in what is going on the rest of your life, and think about what would make you feel better. Pretty soon you will be effectively using recovery workouts to improve the way your body feels. This ultimately improves the rest of your workouts, as well as your overall results.
14 years of experience and education in health and fitness