WHICH IS BEST FOR AN ATHLETE’S RECOVERY: ACTIVE RECOVERY OR NETFLIX?
After a grueling workout, most people would assume to kick up their feet and watch some Netflix (i.e., passive recuperation) to enhance recovery between workouts. Back in 2017, it was found that active upper body active recovery workout enhanced recovery of the lower body compared to passive recovery.(1)
Active recovery is thought to enhance muscle healing by increasing blood flow and nutrients to muscles and reducing inflammation. New research suggests that doing some light exercise after a heavy workout (i.e., active recovery workout) can speed up muscle recuperation. Also, there is a positive relationship between training volume and muscle growth, so doing some light exercise can boost the overall training volume.
ACTIVE RECOVERY VS COMPLETE REST STUDY
Researchers compared passive recovery with no exercise to active recovery workout after a high-volume bench press protocol. Subjects performed 8 sets of bench presses with 70% of a 1RM with 75 seconds of rest between sets. The researchers used bench press throws at 50% of a 1RM to assess muscle power after the workout, 24 and 48 hours after exercise. They also tested peak force by having subjects perform an isometric bench press test.
The active recovery group performed 5 sets of 10 reps using 10% of their 1RM, with 75 seconds of rest between 6 and 30 hours after the high-volume bench press protocol. The passive recovery did no exercise after the high-volume bench press protocol. The researchers also measured muscle soreness, swelling, and performance after both protocols.
AN ATHLETE’S RECOVERY WORKOUT WITH LIGHT EXERCISE
To everyone’s surprise, the light exercise group had faster muscle recuperation than the passive recovery group in the bench press throw and peak force isometric bench press test. The active recovery group also had reduced muscle swelling in the chest compared to the passive recovery group.(2) Performing some light exercises after your workout may enhance recovery compared to just lying around.
Active recovery exercises are light-intensity exercises that help your body recover from a workout. They help to improve circulation, reduce muscle soreness, and increase flexibility. Active recovery exercises can be done on the same day as your workout or the day after. These exercises include walking, sauna, yoga, swimming, cycling, ect.
1. Abaïdia A-E, Delecroix B, Leduc C, Lamblin J, McCall A, Baquet G, et al. Effects of a Strength Training Session After an Exercise Inducing Muscle Damage on Recovery Kinetics. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research. 2017;31(1):115-25.
2. Bartolomei S, Totti V, Griggio F, Malerba C, Ciacci S, Semprini G, et al. Upper-Body Resistance Exercise Reduces Time to Recover After a High-Volume Bench Press Protocol in Resistance-Trained Men. J Strength Cond Res. 2021;35(Suppl 1):S180-s7.