Weekly and Long Term Recovery

Recovery workouts are done twice a week to facilitate recovery. A recovery day is a simple, easy workout. Notice I said “recovery day,” not “rest day.” They are not meant to be hard workouts. These workouts are never done for time as the goal of a recovery day is to flush lactate out of the body, stretch muscle groups, and get your body ready to move for the next work day. Recovery workouts depend on the type of work you have been doing and your end goal. Below are my five favorite recovery workouts:

1.    15x Barbell TGU: Lightweight to focus on movement and core engagement without sacrificing shoulder stability.
2.    30 Minute Easy Row: Maintain 60% max heart rate or an easy conversational pace
3.    3x20 Light Barbell Deadlifts: The deadlifts should be light, around 30% or less of a 1RM. Focus on the movement and speed of pull, using perfect form. Rest as needed between sets.
4.    10x 50m Striders: It is a stride, not a sprint. Stride 50 meters, turn around and walk back to the start, the walk is your rest time. As soon as you get to the start line, turn around and stride out 50 meters again.  
5.    75 Perfect Reps – Push Up, Pull Up, Dip: done for quality, not for time. Rest as needed between sets and focus on quality, full range of motion reps. Scale numbers as needed.

Think outside the gym for other weekly recovery workouts. Options include yoga, compression therapy, a long (45 minute or longer) walk with friends or a loved one, golf, and rock climbing. The main goal of these workouts is to get the body moving. I personally aim to complete one gym based recovery day and one outside recovery workout per week.


Monthly recovery are practices that can be done as often as afforded as they generally cost more money.

Deep tissue massages are focused on rearranging the muscle and the structural fascia around it. It is very effective in restoring range of motion, eliminating soreness. Finding the right practitioner takes time; take your time and try different places before finding the best one for you.

Cryotherapy uses liquid nitrogen to induce peripheral vasoconstriction, which improves muscle oxygenation (Hornery et al., 2005), lower submaximal heart rate, and increase stroke volume (Zalewski et al., 2014), stimulate autonomic nervous parasympathetic activity and increase norepinephrine (Hausswirth et al., 2013). These effects favor post-exercise recovery and induce analgesia (Krüger et al., 2015). The citations above are included as there is a debate about the effectiveness and practicality of cryotherapy. Personally, I always feel better after using a cryosauna.

Lastly, every 6 to 12 weeks, take a week off from training. Get out of the gym and enjoy your extra time with loved ones or use this time for a vacation. This week off helps with total body recovery and prevents mental burnout. When I played football, our training cycles went in eight week periods. In the off season, we trained hard for eight weeks, then had a taper week before spring ball. Once spring ball started, it was another eight-week cycle of practice and workouts until finals. After finals, we had a two-week break before another eight-week cycle of workouts in the summer.

Recovery is up to how your body is feeling. Listen to it.

George Cullen