In the article on who needs to do joint mobility, there were several instances when you can perform such active recovery. The best time is before a workout (followed-by static stretching) and upon awakening in the morning. If you only have the time to do one drill upon awakening then do the mid-back Spinal Cat Cow (as seen towards the middle of the Recuper8 video) especially if you’ve been sleeping on your side all night. You’ll get the stiffness out and blood-flow back in.
Did you also know you can dedicate your rest day to mobility drills to speed up your recovery? Yes, on those days you need off from exercise, it is actually beneficial to do no-impact exercise, which is much better than doing nothing at all. You’ll speed up recovery times, reduce soreness, tension and prime your energy.
You see our bodily systems (hormonal, neuro-muscular, circadian rhythms, etc.) ebb and flow, which impacts our overall energy. That’s why on some days you’ll feel sluggish while on some other days, you feel like you have more energy in your workout. This ‘wave’ of energy is natural and there is a way to take advantage of it. If you, for example, have a performance or an event that you want to ‘peak’ your energy levels on the day of, you can sync your exercise days for such purposes. I learned of this from Scott Sonnon who got this idea from a book called Consistent Winning: A Remarkable New Training System That Lets You Peak On Demand. Applied to Sonnon’s Tactical Fitness systems and to your own workout programming, the following format for peaking on-demand goes as below:
The 4-Day Cycle for Peaking On-Demand
Day 1 / No-Intensity Exercise | Do your joint mobility, walking, light stretching on this day. Stay under 40% of your maximum heart rate if you have a heart-rate monitor.
Day 2 / Low-Intensity Exercise | Do your stretching, Yoga, light jogs on this day, shadow boxing on this day. Stay between 40% – 60% of your maximum heart rate.
Day 3 / Moderate Intensity Exercise | Do your weight lifting, running, strength practice, combative drills on this day. Stay between 60% – 80% of your maximum heart rate.
Day 4 / High Intensity Exercise | Do your high-intensity circuits, wind sprints, metabolic conditioning, HIIT weight lifting, hard sparring here. Stay 85% and above of your maximum heart rate.
Repeat this cycle 7-times for a total of 28 training days, hence it’s called the 4×7 cycle. Upon finishing the 28 days, do 4 consecutive days of only joint mobility to gear you up for the next cycle. Think of ratcheting back to gear up for the next cycle and to prevent burnout or overuse injuries. It’s better to eschew the “go-hard-go-home” mentality; a lot of us lose the mentality when we get older or when we get injured and thus, find out the hard way. Attempting to performing high intensity exercise everyday will lead to eventual burnout of your nervous system, compromise your immune system (getting sick) and lead to injury.
Exercise is good stress (eustress) to the body, nonetheless, it is still stress and your body treats it as such. If you have studied psychology or stress physiology, our body goes through 3 stages: alarm reaction; stress resistance; exhaustion thanks to the Selye model. Give your body the hormonal environment to recover, hence, our mobility exercises remain under 40% maximum heart rate to prevent ‘startling’ the endocrine system by releasing a cascade of stress hormones.
The above ebb and flow follows a universal tendency/mathematical formula called the Fibonacci Sequence or The Golden Mean. I say tendency and not absolute law. When visually expressed, the Fibonacci Sequence takes the shape of spirals as seen in nature, such as, seashells. It takes a few weeks for your body to adapt to the cycle. Everyone adapts differently (varies by sleep or lack thereof, stress levels and overall sensitivity to your energy levels).
Once adapted, you simply tailor your performance event or match to fall on the high intensity day. You can also use this day to deliver your keynote presentation or if you’re writing an exam as a student. What happens if you miss a day? Well, just continue on with the cycle. If you miss more than 4 days in a row, simply start back on Day 1 and continue on.
“What if I want to exercise on a 5-day cycle, e.g. Monday – Friday?” The rule is to add more recovery and not more work.
The 5-Day Cycle for Peak Energy
Day 1 – No Intensity
Day 2 – No Intensity
Day 3 – Low Intensity
Day 4 – Moderate Intensity
Day 5 – High Intensity
“What if I want to exercise on a 7-day cycle?”. Again more recovery and not more work, peaking only once a week.
The 7-Day Cycle for Peak Energy
Day 1 – No Intensity
Day 2 – Low Intensity
Day 3 – Moderate Intensity
Day 4 – No Intensity
Day 5 – Low Intensity
Day 6 – Moderate Intensity
Day 7 – High Intensity
I realize not everyone has the luxury or time for such programming. In any case, just stick to a traditional 3-day split for exercise and alternate it with your active recovery on your days off, e.g. Monday-Wednesdays-Fridays are your workout days and Tuesday-Thursday-Saturdays are your active recovery days. Anything is better than nothing is this sedentary society we live in.
Nothing is absolute and that’s why the above energy wave is a tendency and not a universal law. Nevertheless, it works. I have much more sophisticated programming, which can be a topic for future posts. Some of these include twice-a-day training. In this case, training programming becomes more complex. Visually expressed, you wouldn’t see spirals anymore, but toroidal polyhedrons — donut shapes found in math and in sacred geometry such as, magnetic fields.
What many people forget to mention with mobility work is that beyond the exercises themselves, please do consume an extra gallon of water on the day of your recovery. This will assist in the flushing out of toxins and bring much needed hydration to your body as well. I didn’t make this stuff up. I stand on the shoulders of coaches and luminaries as mentioned above. Now you know when, how to peak and when to recover.
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