While alot of people take the words ‘rest days’ way too serious and lay around all day thinking they do their body a favor, there’s a much better way to recover from a hard workout.
Decades ago when you had a hip or shoulder surgery, you would be bedridden for weeks to find out later that this is actually detrimental for the recovery process. Nowadays when you have a hip replacement surgery, they have you back up on your feet the next morning and make you move the joint and surrounding muscles. Movement causes blood flow that provide the muscles with the necessary nutrients, oxygen and water to recover quicker.
The same thing applies to recovering from a hard workout. Do you tend to get sore from a workout? Then you probably do too much volume or switch up the exercises too much, but you can still drastically speed up this recovery process. However, not by sitting on your couch all day.
Instead of sitting or laying around you’re going to be active to get the most out of your ‘rest’ days. But there are a few do’s and don’ts…
I’m not a fan of endurance cardio as a form of active recovery. You want all the things you do in and outside your weighttraining to have a carry-over effect that will all help you towards the same goal and not counteract eachother. For the most people I work with is building muscle mass the main goal and minimize fat gain or even lose fat in some cases.
Your body is going to adapt to the stimulus that you provide it.
Minimize the kinds of activities that might cause you to lose muscle tissue, such as endurance cardio. When you’re doing endurance cardio, your body is going to adapt to the stimulus that you provide it. That stimulus says ”Hey, I need to be able to perform this kind of activity for an extended period of time” and muscle tissue is heavy, it has a high nutrient demand, a high oxygen demand, and a high water demand. So your body will try to get rid of muscle tissue that is so valueable to you.
So, instead of doing endless hours of cardio we will do a quick HIIT cardio session that will send our body the wrong message but still include all the benefits we are looking for such as: extreme blood flow throughout the body, increasing cardiovascular condition, speed up your metabolism and pumping nutrients, oxygen and water throughout your body to recover quicker.
HERE IS WHAT WE ARE GOING TO DO:
- Pick an activity that you enjoy and is convenient for you to do (stationary bike, threadmill, stairmaster, or the outdoor variations of these).
- Start with a 1 minute warmup
- Sprint for 30 seconds and go all out, followed by one-minute of slowly cycling/walking.
- Repeat this cycle 10 times but without the warmup.
This kind of ‘cardio’ will force alot of blood towards your legs and all around your body as a result of the intense concentric tension without breaking down muscle mass and inhibit recovery because of the lack of eccentric tension.
Try to write down your resistance level and RPM/speed when you are a machine. The next time you do this HIIT session you can try to beat yourself by increasing the resistance or speed when you sprint. Doing so will train your body to adapt to this stimulus and improve cardiovascular conditioning as well as recovery.
Include this on your rest days to speed up your recovery. It will only take 15 minutes and the benefits are tremendous.
Try it and let me know what you think!
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