WOD Fundamentals:  Active Recovery

by Jason Jaksetic

There is a fact that seems to always escape the mind of an athlete, even though it is simple and commonsensical:

Recovery is a huge part of your training. 

Sometimes we go on huge benders of maniac training sessions where we pile on intense workouts day after day.  These are great, but after 7-10 days of this you need to schedule yourself some time to let all those recent breakthroughs in fitness (that you created by breaking down your body) to be manufactured into reality by the healing process (that which will build up your body to a higher level of fitness).

You train to get weaker, not stronger.  Immediately after a huge effort you aren’t exactly feeling fresh, right?  But when strain and struggle is produced in the body, the body is forced to respond.  How does it do this?  By building itself back up (and here is the cool part) to a point fitter than before your initial weakening.

Ever hear that a bone heals stronger after a break?  Same idea.  The important point is to understand that the process takes time.

We’ve known so many athletes who’ve lived in that foggy and flat stage called Overtraining.  Face facts:  you are not invincible.

Acknowledging this you can be a smart athlete and rise to bigger, longer term goals because you methodically and systematically work recovery days into your training.  You should look at a bigger picture, too, and schedule in weeks to back off training volume by 50%.  Doing this every 3-4 weeks works well for many athletes.

How does one do a recovery WOD?  There is a wide spectrum of workouts to try out and experiment with.  It offers a great chance to be creative and to try new cross training activities.

YOUR recovery workout needs to meet YOUR needs as an athlete.

Generally speaking, as you develop as an athlete you recover better with some extremely light exercises such as stretching or swimming, or even jogging.

Sometimes, though, if you body is demanding to sleep, take that time in your day normally reserved for training, and schedule ‘sleep’.

A great way to think about scheduling recovery days is to pick a day of your week reserved for healing related activities.

Take the time to organize yourself.  Do the laundry -finally take care of those piles of  workout clothes that have been gathering because you spend every spare second of your day training.

At Spartan HQ we tend to do low impact sports – swimming or cycling, most often.  The key is to keep the pace recreational.  We find Bikram yoga to be a great way to stretch out and help the body along in the healing process.

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5 Responses

  1. avatar

    THIS is exactly what I needed right at this moment! Way overtraining and hurt myself today so I’ll be forced to rest but still able to work core and lower body. Scheduling my week now and SCHEDULING my rest time! Thanks!

  2. avatar

    Great post, Jason. As always.

  3. avatar

    I used to have this problem of being “in the fog” as well. It really does exist. At the time I was doing most of my training after school and when school ended for the summer I stopped working out. For the next several days I could feel my body getting stronger. Gotta say that confused me for quite awhile!

  4. avatar

    I think that a recovery day should not involve any kind of outward physical training. There are so many kinds of “internal” training that can be done….like meditation, internal Qi Gong exercises, being in a quiet room and practicing deep breathing, doing mindful work on building Qi in your power centers. There is a kind of “power” that comes through these activities that cannot be cultivated through hard exercise. Relax, and balance out what you are as a human being.

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