Active recovery is a means of speeding up the recovery process so that you can train with intensity again sooner rather than later!
The intention is to use low-intensity exercise to increase blood flow around the body, which can help you in the following ways:
1. Reduce lactic acid build-up in your muscles.
2. Alleviate overall soreness.
3. Help flush out toxins.
4. Maintain mobility and flexibility.
It may even help reduce the risk of injury. Moreover, if you’re training for fat loss or to improve body composition, the extra activity can burn a few extra calories in a non-stressful way.
Active recovery can be most effective either the day after your hardest training sessions (such as high-intensity interval training or heavy strength training) or intermittently throughout the week in between your regular training sessions. Either way, it will help speed up the recovery process.
As previously mentioned, active recovery should be LOW INTENSITY, your heart rate should not get too high, and you should feel energized NOT exhausted after your session. These active recovery sessions should focus on “Zone 1” basic level exercise, with your heart rate staying around 55-65% of MAX. Alternatively, if you’re using an RPE (rate of perceived exertion) scale, then 2-3 is best, which simply means “light intensity exercise that you can maintain for hours and breathe easily.”
Active recovery sessions should also be LOW IMPACT, avoiding things like jumping or running to give your joints a break from more intense training. The goal is to PROMOTE recovery, not hinder it.
Below are some examples of good forms of exercise suited for active recovery:
– Cross trainer
– Walking (In nature, around trees, or in a park is recommended)
– Tai Chi
The duration of your active recovery session is also important, so make sure it’s not too long. However, it should ideally be around the 30-minute mark to allow the increase of blood flow to help you, with 45 minutes being the upper limit depending on the time you have available.
Now that you know the key components of active recovery sessions, including duration, intensity, and choice of exercise, it’s time to use it to your advantage and keep the gains coming!
Written by Daryl Richards, Principal Coach at COACH London