Active recovery: A way to be productive between sets

By Tanner Paulson, CSCS

In our modern world where everyone is busy, efficient and productive use of time has never been more important — including our time spent in the gym. No matter your age, no matter your training goals, rest and recovery time must be allotted during your workout. This recovery time is essential to optimize performance, avoid injury and maintain a successful training plan. There are several ways to incorporate active forms of recovery into your workouts, keeping downtime productive.

Former intern, Tanner Paulson, at Sanford POWER in Fargo, NDActive recovery can be integrated into your workouts through core, stability, mobility and reactive exercises during rest periods. When implementing these methods into your regimen, focus on time. Make the time spent completing these exercises equal to the time normally spent on recovering from primary exercises like lifts, sprints and jumps.

This recovery time can also be used to address areas in need of improvement during a workout. Instead of performing a 10-minute ‘Ab Circuit’ to finish your workout, try adding exercises, like a bird dog or dead bug to build a stronger, more stable foundation. On the other hand, mobility and reactive exercises pair well with compound lifts like cleans, squats and deadlifts. These combinations can enhance performance and increase range of motion when performing these types of movements. Examples include pairing a squat jump with a hex-bar deadlift or a barbell squat followed by walking through a set of hurdles.

It’s important to remember that these active recovery movements shouldn’t leave you feeling fatigued when performing your primary exercise. They are designed to help you address areas of improvement. This is an excellent time for you or your trainer to be creative. Take advantage of a new opportunity to find out what exercises work best with your program. You’ll be rewarded with a more productive workout and, ultimately, the improved results you are working toward.