Your Feel-Good, Recovery Day Workout

Anthony J. Yeung
by Anthony J. Yeung
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Your Feel-Good, Recovery Day Workout

Instead of skipping exercise altogether on your day off from training, try doing a light, easy and low-impact workout because it can actually speed your recovery. A recovery-focused workout promotes blood flow to your muscles, reduces soreness and should help you feel better than you did before you started.

BENEFITS OF A RECOVERY “WORKOUT”

It might seem counterintuitive to use exercise as a way to recover from exercise, but there are several important reasons why the right kind of training can actually help you bounce back faster.

  • The right kind of active recovery session can help you clear lactic acid faster than if you didn’t do anything.
  • A light, aerobic recovery session may actually help you recover from HIIT training.
  • Incorporating dynamic stretches keeps your heart rate in the right aerobic range so you can lengthen your muscles and move in a super low-impact and relaxing way.
  • Doing concentric exercises accumulates less fatigue or muscle damage than eccentric exercises.
  • Breathing exercises help your muscles (and mind) relax
  • Foam rolling your muscles can reduce soreness and increase performance.

YOUR RECOVERY “WORKOUT”

You shouldn’t really feel like you’re “working out” or that this routine is difficult or strenuous. (If anything, it should feel like the easiest workout of your life.) The goal is to finish your session feeling better than you did before your workout. The only way you can do that is by taking it easy and breathing fluidly and fully, not gritting your teeth.

If you can, wear a heart rate monitor throughout the workout and avoid letting your heart rate get above 150bpm. (If it does, take a longer break between exercises.)

WARMUP

DEEP SQUAT BREATHING – 5 BREATHS

Start with your feet shoulder-width apart and toes straight ahead. Drop into a deep squat and hold onto something in front of you. Round your spine and breathe deep into your belly and back.

BEAR CRAWLS – 10 YARDS

Get on all fours with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips; keep your knees an inch above the ground. Crawl forward by taking a small step with your right arm and left leg at the same time and alternate. Keep your hips low and your head up.

TURKISH GET UPS – 3 REPS PER SIDE

Lie on the ground with your right knee bent, right foot flat on the floor, right arm holding a weight above you, and left arm and left leg at your side. Drive through your right foot and roll onto your left elbow. Then, straighten your left arm. Squeeze your right glute and drive your hips straight up. Pull your left leg underneath and behind your body, resting on the knee and ball of the foot. Move your torso straight up, then lunge to a stand. Reverse the sequence to descend. Do all your reps on one side and repeat on the other side. Keep your chest up and watch the weight the entire time.

CIRCUIT 1

Perform this circuit five times and rest at least 1 minute between rounds:

SPIDERMAN LUNGE WITH REACH – 8 REPS

With your left leg, lunge forward and left about 30-degrees. Place both hands on the ground while keeping your elbows locked and press your trailing knee to the ground. Squeeze the glute of the rear leg and extend your right arm to the sky while watching your hand with your eyes. Maintain a neutral arch in your lower back throughout. Stand up and switch sides.

MEDICINE BALL OVERHEAD SLAMS – 5 REPS

Grab a large medicine ball and, while standing in an athletic position, bring the ball above your head and slam it as hard as you can into the ground. Keep your abs braced throughout. Repeat.

SQUAT TO STAND – 8 REPS

Start with your feet shoulder-width apart, bend at your hips, grab your toes, then, pull yourself down into a squat while keep your arms straight and your hands grabbing your toes. Raise your hips and repeat.

CIRCUIT 2

Do this circuit three times and rest for 1 minute between rounds:

PEC STRETCH – 30 SECONDS

Place your forearm and elbow along a wall or doorway so they make a 90-degree angle. Keep your elbow around shoulder height. Then, lean forward until you feel a gentle stretch in your chest. Hold that stretch. Repeat on the other side.

HIP FLEXOR STRETCH – 30 SECONDS EACH SIDE

Kneel down on one knee with your hip over your knee and your opposite leg bent at 90-degrees. Tuck your hip by lifting your “belt buckle” area up. Then, push your hip forward until you feel a light stretch. Hold for 30 seconds and breathe.

BIRD DOGS – 8 REPS EACH SIDE

Get on your hands and knees with your hands below your shoulders and knees below your hips. Keep your lower back flat. Reach with opposite arms and legs. Think about kicking out your heel until you feel your glute turn on. Repeat.

WALL SLIDES – 10 REPS

Stand with your head, shoulders and glutes against a wall. Press your forearms flush against the wall. (There should be no space between your skin and the wall). Squeeze your glutes and press your lower back against the wall while sliding your forearms up and down the wall.

COOLDOWN

FOAM ROLL – 3 MINUTES

Foam rolling helps relax your muscles, stimulates blood flow and improves muscle recovery. Target common trouble areas like your calves, quads, hamstrings, glutes, IT band, lower back, and lats.

CHILD’S POSE BREATHING – 8 BREATHS

Get into a child’s pose and round the entire length of your spine. When you inhale, breathe through your nose, expand your diaphragm and focus on pushing your belly into your thighs. Exhale every last ounce of air from your lungs, hold for one second and then inhale.

About the Author

Anthony J. Yeung
Anthony J. Yeung

Anthony, a certified strength and conditioning specialist, is a fitness expert at Esquire, GQ and Men’s Health and gets guys in shape for their wedding at GroomBuilder.

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2 responses to “Your Feel-Good, Recovery Day Workout”

  1. Avatar Phil says:

    I really dislike tattoos and I wish My Fitness Pal used models with no tattoos. I usually skip articles that have models with tattoos.

  2. Avatar Matt Franklin says:

    I love tattoos and I hope My Fitness Pal continues to use models with full-body tattoos. I always read articles that include models with tattoos.

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