Circuit Training: Active Recovery

Circuit training is a perfect tool to use in just about any situation. It may not be the ideal mass builder, but with most any other goal it is applicable. The past few weeks I have been using my outdoor circuit training as a form of active recovery. I’ve been feeling run down of late, and any serious trainer will go through this several times a year. What separates progress from regress, is knowing what to do when this happens.

I still have kept up with my training in my typical fashion four days of the week. My gym training is a couple of weight lifting intensive circuits, with a heavy helping of core and sprints thrown in. Oftentimes, I’ll do this seven days a week. For the past several weeks, the other three days have been focused on active recovery circuit training, in my favorite outdoor environment. This allows me to progress, as well as recuperate at the same time. I’ll show you how.

The exercises I choose are either body weight, resistance bands, or medicine balls. I perform them all in one location, and only for three sets. I do a circuit that will work everything regarding my muscles, but nothing very intensely. It will be a circuit followed by a 30 second skip. That’s it.

Today, the first exercise I performed was walking lunges with a medicine ball held over head. I keep my arms straight up with a medium heavy medicine ball held as high as I can hold it, and I lunge walk for 20 steps. The straighter I hold my arms, and the more I focus on each step being as stable as possible, the more I notice my entire body engages.

Then I did a set of jump back rows with resistance bands. I wrapped the bands around the pole, squat down, and then jump back and stand upright slightly while pulling the handles into my ribs for the row portion. I then jump forward to the starting squat position, and repeat. I complete these reps quickly, and it serves as a great full body exercise as there is squatting and jumping involved.

I quickly turned around, and faced away from the pole with the handles held in front of me. I stand up on my toes to add some instability so as to engage my core, and I commence pressing the bands from a wide shoulder grip, to finishing with my arms extended and in front of my eyes. I find this movement really engages my upper chest well as I’m holding the handles high.

Next I use a longer set of bands for some overhead push presses. I stand with both feet shoulder width apart, and stand on the bands. I hold the bands at my shoulders, dip down a little with my legs, and thrust the bands straight over head. I do this exercise for 20 reps, as I have with every exercise in this circuit.

I then finish off with a 30 second skip. Is this an easy circuit, and therefore basically a day off? Absolutely not, and I’m not done yet either. For this segment I am however, as that ends the circuit training portion of my active recovery. Four exercises, plus a short skip/sprint, for three sets. It still gives me the work I need to feel like I’ve trained hard, but it allows my muscles a chance to get some rest. None of these exercises are done to failure, and the higher reps aren’t particularly taxing on my recovery reserves. It’s a win win for me, my body, and my mind.

Happy Lifting!

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