Rest Better And Improve Performance
What is Active Rest?
The Idea that you should train on your “off” days may bring a chill up your spine but it may be the missing piece in your training that could push your performance to the next level. Active rest (or active recovery) is the idea that even though you aren’t pushing your physical limitations you are taking some time to get off your rear end and activating you metabolism. A 20 minute moderate to slow swim can be a great active rest exercise that is just what you body needs to help you recover.
What Will Active Rest Do For Me?
Even one day of total inactivity can materially affect how your body responds to insulin and metabolizes sugar. By including a light exercise you are telling your body not to get lazy and just store calories, getting a light training in can kick your metabolism into high gear for hours after training is done. One the best ways to improve your military fitness is just drop useless bodyweight and active rest can help you do that..
One of the big problems with intense training is the development of huge amounts of lactic acid in the muscles that causes painful soreness, lowers muscle ph, and inhibits protein synthesis (muscle growth). A buffer like beta alanine can do only so much to counter act intense training, but active rest will help mobilize and metabolize lactic acid and speed recovery.
The movement of joints and tendons increases the elasticity and blood flow to these weak points in the body. One of the reasons joints are so slow to heal from injury is because of the low vascularity in these parts of the body. A half an hour of light exercise will help lubricate, oxygenate and repair minor tender spots.
Part of military fitness is mobility and mobility is closely related to flexibility. Recently we were training in some basics parkour exercises to develop the ability to efficiently manuever through urban environments doing cat jumps and spider hangs and the like; one of the biggest obstacles to getting around over and through the environment for my team mates was a lack of flexibility and mobility. A well though out active recovery regimen will incorporate flexibility, enhancing training. You are required as a tactical athlete to be highly mobile if for no other reason than to overcome the cumbersome body armor. Below I have included a military fitness characteristic chart developed by the Department of Defense that probably explains it better than I can.
Rules of Active Rest
- Keep it moderate to low intensity (I try to keep my heart rate below 143) a rule of thumb is 60-65% your max heart rate
- Don’t over do it, you don’t need to train for 2 hours to get benefit but ,do at least 20 minutes
- Incorporate movements that develop flexibility and mobility
- Hydrate Hydrate Hydrate
- Form over power, take this chance to refine movement skills and techniques
- Have fun
I am going to include my favorite active rest exercises in order this in not an exhaustive list but it will give you insight to where my head is at.
- Jui Jitsu/MMA (light, training form and technique)
Active rest days don’t have to be a trip to the gym, it can be playing sports or just a nice hike. Use your active rest days to remember how much you like being in good shape and enjoy what got you into training in the first place. Active recovery when combined with good nutrition and training can push you through plateaus. I hope you got something out of this post and if you did be sure to share it on your social network of choice and check out some advertisers in the “Klicks for Karma” section to see if anything captures your attention to the right because half the proceeds from you clicking goes to great foundations like the Special Operations Foundation and other great charities.