Active Recovery: No More Rest on Rest Days

Embrace Active Recovery to Repair and Rebuild Muscles


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Kicking your feet up and cracking a cold one certainly doesn’t qualify as a “rest day” if you’re trying to train and build muscle. There’s a reason cyclists hop on a stationary bike after a tough stage, swimmers squeeze in a few cool down laps after a race and runners get a slow jog in on the treadmill on down days. After a tough workout, muscles need a recovery period to cool down properly and to repair more efficiently. The best way to help repair and better build muscle is to engage your muscles in active recovery.

During a recovery period (which can last a week or merely for the hour after your workout, depending on your training) muscles should be exercised, but under much lighter loads than hard training.

PLYOGA Fitness founder Stephanie Lauren swears by active recovery to build muscle more efficiently. “One can get so much more out of their workouts if they recover actively in a static yoga pose or lower-impact exercise rather than standing around, chatting or getting a drink of water,” she says. “Strength, cardiovascular, agility, endurance, balance, core and flexibility are all aspects of a good workout; PLYOGA embodies all of these.” Lauren’s creation, PLYOGA, is a fitness regimen that combines the anaerobic qualities of plyometric training with the balance and relaxation of a yoga workout. The workout system begins with plyometric exercises that stress muscles just enough to engage them, then finishes with yoga poses and stretching as a cool-down. To get the most out of your workouts, recover and build muscle tissue in the most efficient way possible, Lauren recommends pairing certain plyometric workouts and yoga poses with specific muscle groups.

For the exercises below, repeat each cycle 2 to 4 times (depending on fitness level).

Upper Body

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Curls for the girls.

Biceps

Chaturanga Push-Ups: Similar to your standard push-ups, just with your elbows tucked in at your sides. Hold for 25 seconds. Followed by…
Cobra Position: Lay facedown with your hands under your shoulders. Slowly raise your head, arching your back and rolling your shoulders. Hold for 15 seconds.

Abs

Scissor Kicks: Standing up, keeping you legs straight, quickly alternate kicking your feet out. Repeat for 25 seconds. Followed by…
Warrior I: In a lunge position, with your rear foot turned perpendicular to your front foot, raise both arms straight above your head. Hold for 15 seconds.

Back and Shoulders

Alternating Tabletop Kicks: On your hands and feet, with your stomach facing the ceiling, alternate raising your opposite arm and leg, trying to touch your toes. Repeat for for 25 seconds. Followed by…
Reverse Plank Hold: Sitting on the ground with your legs straight in front of you, tuck your elbows near your torso and lift your hips, so your body is straight. Hold for 15 seconds.

Superman Lift: Lay facedown holding your arms straight out in front of you, while holding your legs up, straight behind you. Hold for 25 seconds. Followed by…
Boat Post Position: In a seated position, raise your legs so that you body makes a “V” shape. Hold for 15 seconds.

Chest

Clockwork Walking Plank: In a push-up position, walk with your hands and rotate 90-degrees, do a push-up, return back to your starting position, do another push-up. Then repeat this process in the other direction. Repeat 4 to 6 times. Followed by…
Side Plank: Laying on your side with your feet anchored, rise up on the hand (or elbow, for modification) closest to the ground. Hold your body in a straight line. Hold for 15 seconds.

Lower Body

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A strong foundation.

Quads

Jumping Jacks: Just like you did in school. Repeat 16 times. Followed by…
Chair Pose: While standing with your knees touching, squat as if you were sitting in an invisible chair. Hold for 15 seconds.

Burpees: From standing position, move to the floor, letting your chest touch the ground, then immediately explode upward to standing, followed a small jump. Repeat 6 to 8 times. Followed by…
Plank Hold: Starting from your hands and knees, push your palms into the ground and your legs out behind you. Tighten your abs and raise your butt and hold your body in a straight line. Hold for 15 seconds.

Hammies and Glutes

Single Leg Box Jumps: Standing on one leg, jump forward, to the right, backwards and then to the left, returning to your original position. Reverse the direction on the same leg, then switch legs and repeat. Repeat 4 to 6 times. Followed by…
Warrior III: Balancing on one leg, keeping it locked, position your torso and opposite leg so they are in line and parallel to the ground. Hold your arms level with your head, straight and parallel to the ground as well. Hold for 15 seconds.

Lunge-Squat-Lunge: Lunge forward, then rise again. Follow immediately with a squat. Repeat 4 to 6 times. Followed by…
Crescent Pose: In a lunge position, raise your hands up over your head, look to your fingers, and drop your hips. Hold for 15 seconds.