The Active Recovery Workout

Incorporate movement between sets to get more out of your next strength session.

Active recovery is an essential part of training. Incorporating low-impact moves into your routine can help your body build strength and bounce back from intense exercise. You can implement the practice on a micro level by taking advantage of the time in between sets. More so than standing still, performing an easier secondary move can maximize muscle recovery and ultimately, results.

The workout below, created by LA-based Equinox group fitness instructor Kupah James, shows you how to weave low-intensity exercises into your session. Simply perform 8 slow and steady reps of the primary move, actively recover for 45 seconds with the secondary move, and repeat. Complete 6 rounds of each combo (A and B) before moving on to the next. 


1A) Primary Move: Pull-Up

Place hands on pull-up bar, palms facing toward you, legs together and extended. Keep abs engaged, shoulders down, and gaze forward as you slowly pull yourself up until your elbows are pointing to the ground and your chin is just above the bar. Lower back to start with control, moving straight up and down (do not swing body back and forth). Do 8 reps. (*Note: If you need assistance, attach a resistance band to the bar and your foot until you feel comfortable completing a stable pull-up on your own.)


1B) Secondary Move: Forearm Plank Hold

Start in modified plank position, with elbows under shoulders, back flat, and legs extended behind you. Hold for 45 seconds.


2A) Primary Move: Dumbbell Deadlift 

Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing body, arms extended in front of you. Keeping back flat and gaze forward, slowly hinge from your hips as you push your butt behind you, sliding dumbbells down in front of thighs to the tops of your feet. Squeeze your glutes as you slowly reverse movement back to start. Do 8 reps.

 

2B) Secondary Move: Dynamic Beast

Start on all fours, with palms under shoulders, knees under hips. Come up onto the balls of your feet, so knees are hovering above the floor. Keeping core engaged and back flat, press through palms as you drive hips back toward (but not past) your heels, and then shift back to start. Repeat. Continue for 45 seconds.

 

3A) Primary Move: Goblet Squat 

Stand with feet more than shoulder-width apart, toes pointed slightly out to the sides, gripping a kettlebell in front of chest, palms facing you, elbows bent by sides. Squat straight down, keeping back tall, weight in front of chest, and knees behind toes, until elbows are in between thighs, and then squeeze glutes as you return to start. Do 8 reps.

 

3B) Secondary Move: Superman

Lie face-down on a mat with arms extended in front of you, legs extended behind you. Keeping shoulders down and gaze forward, squeeze glutes and inhale as you lift upper and lower body toward ceiling. Exhale as you release and lower back down; repeat. Continue for 45 seconds.