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10 Apr 2008


Sometimes when we get into a consistent rhythm of working out, we look forward to it. Exercise can become a hobby, a passion, maybe even a healthy obsession. Seeing results from our hard work is the ultimate payoff as we gain more energy for everyday activities, improve strength, and lose a few pounds in the process. These results may keep us exercising full-tilt until we hit a wall, sometimes sooner than later. What happened?

When we hit this wall—sometimes it comes in the form of burnout, sometimes in the guise of a plateau—it’s because we’ve been working hard for one too many consecutive workouts. Our bodies aren’t designed for a vigorous routine every time we exercise. We need to take it easy sometimes. Recovery plays just as much as in important role in reaching your goals as pushing your limits.

Recovery will vary among exercisers. Rest should be as specific to your goal as every other component of your fitness program. In general, it’s a good idea to scale back after every two or three tough workouts. You can do this by either taking a full day off or have an active recovery workout.

Active recovery? Relax, it’s not a trick to cheat you out of resting your tired body. Active recovery characterizes an exercise session where you rest your worked muscles through flexibility exercises and light cardiovascular activity. Don’t just stick to the typical static stretches. Dynamic flexibility exercises will also help loosen tight muscles and help reduce some soreness. These exercises also have a couple advantages over your typical static stretches—dynamic flexibility allows you to move a joint through its full range of motion and unload worked muscles from strenuous work you may have done the previous workout. Dynamic flexibility can include eight to ten reps worth of bodyweight exercises such as leg swings, multi-planar lunges and variations, and bridges. You can try dynamic flexibility work right after a general cardiovascular warm-up or a light cardio session. Then wrap-up with some of your favorite static stretches.

So remember, keep pushing yourself, but be sure to rest from all that hard work! Take a day off and try active recovery.

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  1. Pingback: Keeping Fitness Fun in the Summer: Lunchtime Walks « Balance and Reach

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