8/10/2009-816/2009: Active Recovery
Before you ask, no I am not running out of ideas. Active recovery is actually a huge factor in athletic performance. This is particularly true as we age! Unfortunately, many of us do not know how to do it.
If you have been exercising hard for a period of time, you need to schedule "back-off weeks" where you reduce your workload and allow your body to catch up. This is not to be confused with quitting altogether, which can actually be harmful and create mental barriers when you go to resume your program. The key is to keep exercising, but do so at a reduced level of intensity (ie. lower weights, slower paces, and sorter workouts). this should also be accompanied by paying careful attention to diet and sleep.
If you have been doing an intense 5-6 day strength and cardio workout every week of several weeks, you may want to attempt a back-off weeks that concentrates on active recovery. It may look like this:
Mon = Dynamic stretching followed by a brief, low intensity bodyweight strength circuit.
Tues = Run, jog or walk 20-30 minutes.
Wed = Low intensity core stabilization routine or total rest.
Thurs = Dynamic stretching followed by a brief, low intensity bodyweight strength circuit.
Fri = Run, jog, or walk 20-30 minutes.
Sat = Total rest
Sun = Total rest
If you jump right back into your full workload the following Monday, you will be amazed at how much stronger and more fit you feel!