Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Recovery Days Maximize Weight Loss And Fitness Gains

“When is the last time that a fitness expert told you to take it easy in order to improve your health? It doesn't seem logical that intentional laziness would have any benefit in the context of a fitness program. But it does. In fact, many coaches consider a recovery day as important as speed days, endurance days, and technique work. To clarify, a recovery day is not a day off. No fitness gains will be achieved by sitting on the couch and reminiscing about the prior day's feats at the health club. Active recovery is the key to a well rounded workout plan. Active recovery means that you still work out but at an intensity level that is greatly reduced, say 60% of your max heart rate, and a shorter duration than usual. Thirty minutes of a brisk walk on the day after a long run helps the body fully reap the benefits of longer endurance efforts. This light day not only allows your muscles the time they need to repair but also helps to increase blood flow, preventing sore muscles and stiffness. When I taught spinning, it was typical to see a few regulars come in every day and spin to the point of near collapse. Spin classes are a great opportunity to push the envelope of intensity. But by pushing hard every single day they never allowed their bodies to adequately recover and ended up always exercising at a diminished capacity. A recovery day would have allowed their bodies to refuel for a more effective future workout. Fitness gains also diminish after the body adjusts to the same old routine. A smarter plan is to give your body the benefit of a range of intensities. Plan no more than three or four hard days a week and follow these with moderately easy shorter workouts. This balanced approach keeps the mind and body fresh for workouts that will help you to push past plateaus and realize significant fitness and weight loss gains.”


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