Active Recovery involves prefroming light exercises between your main sets to keep your body moving and your blood pumping.
Recovering between sets of high-intensity intervals doesn't have to include sitting on a bench scrolling through Instagram or taking selfies in the gym mirror. In fact, you can continue moving your body in interesting ways (like pedaling a ProForm Pro 22 studio bike) while you recover.
Because let's face it, we came here to work out, not to make (or entertain) friends.
The workout I demonstrate in this video goes like this:
- Warm-up with some easy cycling
- 30 seconds of High Intensity (running on the spot with high knees)
- Cycle easy again until your heart rate returns to your aerobic zone
- 30 seconds of High Intensity (burpees)
- Cycle easy again until your heart rate recovers
- 30 seconds of High Intensity (jumping jacks)
- Cool down with some easy cycling
You don't have to use a stationary bike or do burpees. You can do an easy jog between sets of bench press, or clean the kitchen between sets of pull-ups. Anything that keeps your body moving while also allowing you to get ready for your next set will do.
Check out Get-Fit Guy's Hate Burpees? Here's How to Love Challenging Exercises to learn more about embracing exercises we all love to hate.
The great thing about active recovery is that it maximizes your workout time and actually makes your recovery time more effective by flushing metabolic byproducts out of your muscles quicker and keeping your momentum up. Like the old saying goes: a meat-sack in motion stays in motion. Or something like that.
Like the old saying goes: a meat-sack in motion stays in motion. Or something like that.
The key here is to make sure you are truly recovering between your hard sets. That means the movement you choose to do needs to be easy enough that your heart rate can come down and your body can flush the lactate from your muscles. In the video, I use an arm monitor and the iFit interface on my bike to keep an eye on my heart rate so I can see when I am back into my MAF heart rate zone.
If you're training longer than an hour, you're making friends, not training.
The heart rate formula I use and mention in the video is "180 - your age." So, for me, it is 180 - 49 = 131 (but I round it off to 130 for ease). This is called your MAF (maximum aerobic function) heart rate and it is correlated with being in a state of optimal aerobic effort.
I use this technique to be more efficient in the gym because like legendary coach Charles Poliquin (AKA Strength Sensei) once wrote, "If you're training longer than an hour, you're making friends, not training."