What is “Active Recovery”

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Everyone that has any experience with CrossFit’s high intensity knows the feeling of walking away from a workout completely exhausted. Go hard or go home right? This workout was briefed a little different than most. I had a great opportunity to give a little bit of the “WHY” behind this day’s program design.

Active Recovery WOD:

500m Row

50 Situps

400m Row

40 Walking Lunges

300m Row

30 Goblet Squats (53/35#)

200m Row

20 Box Jumps (24/20″)

100m Row

10 Toes to Bar

I was asked before the workout; what is active recovery? That is a great question that needs to be addressed. Below is the best illustration that I could manage, so bare with me. We look at each workout with specific intention on what we want you to feel, how your body should react, and what you will be able to put into it.

In your world, as an athlete approaching the workout, you have the ability to control your level of intensity, or in this case, your Rate of Percieved Exertion (RPE). The workouts will have a bit of influence on that, but it is important that you have an idea on how to approach it.

In the professional illustration below, you will see a perfect model of what your face should look like at the lowest level  (Level one). This can easily be compared to the contrasting, throw up and die feeling of the last level (Level 10)

For Example:

  • Level 1 feels like walking in the park, stress-free with an ice cream cone on a sunny day (good right 🙂
  • Level 10 should feel like running the fastest sprint of your life, 1000 degrees outside, and you threw up the ice cream 5 yards ago.

With long term health and fitness in mind, you should have a good mix of all levels of RPE when approaching workouts. This is for a few reasons, in my opinion. Stress and muscle recovery are the two that I will address now.

  1. Stress: We accumulate stress every day of our lives. Stress is added from things like work, unhealthy foods, lack of sleep, kids, spouses, and even super intense exercise. Stress is not a bad thing at all, it actually helps to prevent us from being lazy logs. Intense exercise  (zone 10) helps burn fat while strengthening your heart and lungs. However, much like everything else, anything in excess can be poisonous. We want you to be able to come to classes as many times a week as you can and feel good. Feeling good is defined as living as stress-free as you can, not getting sick, and avoiding injury. For this reason, you may see workouts like the one above programmed it the week to balance out the intensity levels for you. The movements above were purposely chosen to slow you down a bit and allow you to exercise at a submaximal pace (level 5-7ish)
  1. Recovery: The speed of muscle recovery depends on many factors. Some of the big things that help speed up recovery are adequate sleep, whole foods, stretching, and proper hydration. These things are all in your control. The things that you are not as in control of, and can have adverse effects are age and genetics. Active recovery workouts like the one you see above can be very beneficial to your recovery. These workouts, like many others, promote blood flow to those sore muscles (see Monday’s back squats), help burn unwanted fat, strengthen your heart and lungs, and can actually help clear your mind of the everyday hustle and flow. For those 5-6 day a-weekers, attending these classes may not be as fast and flashy and we understand that. Just know that we have your health and wellness #1 in the preparation and design of the programs at Faction.

I hope that you will take away a little more understanding on how to approach your training program as a whole. Know that you will have fast days and slow days as well as heavy days and light days. Listen to your coach and understand the intended outcome of the WOD. Focus on pushing hard in the gym as well as outside of the gym. This includes getting enough sleep, eating healthy foods and drinking plenty of water.