Benefits of Active Recovery for Cyclists
If you spend any amount of time at the gym, you will almost certainly have come across people who seem to be there around the clock. These freaks of nature appear to have a limitless supply of energy, making you wonder why you can’t keep up that pace, even though you are in good shape. The fact of the matter is while it may appear that they are always in the gym, you can bet that they do submit themselves to rest and recovery periods. They may just do it in a way that is different to the approach that you use.
The technique that they are probably using is something that is called active recovery, and it is quickly becoming common among cyclists. Even if you believe that you are in peak physical shape, your body still needs some form of recovery time after a strenuous ride or training session. Failing to give your body the rest it needs means running the risk of picking up injuries or having the energy reserves required to put in your best effort during an event. Neither of those is a particularly good option for cyclists who like to compete.
It’s easy to believe that active recovery is as simple as working out at a lesser level, but there is more to it than that. For example, a person who routinely lifts weights is still putting a lot of stress on their body if they drop to lower weights during a so-called recovery period. To perform active recovery correctly, you need to be doing exercise that keeps your heart rate at about 40-60% of maximum, which does not exceed 30-40 minutes in length, and which leaves you feeling energized as opposed to exhausted. If you can hit those bullet points, you are right where you need to be for active recovery.
While active recovery for cyclists may appear to have the goal of burning calories or improving performance, it is performed to allow the muscles to rest. It’s worth mentioning that you should rest if you are nursing an injury, as you may aggravate things more when trying to perform active recovery. The biggest benefit of active recovery for cyclists is that it helps improve blood circulation, which in turn means that oxygen and nutrients course through the body that much faster. When you get that increase in circulation, you’ll find that muscles repair and recover faster than before.
While this active form of recovery has definite benefits, it’s important that you stay within the parameters mentioned above. It’s easy to get a little carried away during active recovery sessions, at which point you can cross the line from doing good to causing your muscles more harm. It may take a session or two for your body to grow accustomed to this new form of recovery, but once you get into the swing of things, you will quickly start to reap the benefits.
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