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Reduced Recovery for Increased Intensity

Reducing recovery time is a physically and mentally demanding approach to fitness, but the results are well worth it.

Now that we are well acquainted after months of (or maybe after months of me writing and you reading about exercise), it is my pleasure to share my all-time favorite workout with you.

Of course, by "pleasure," I mean because you are doing it and I’m not, and by "favorite," I mean most physically and mentally grueling.  So get ready for some serious sweating! 

Reduced Recovery Workout

What I'm talking about is known as a reduced recovery workout.  What that means is although the exercise type and length is not changing, the recovery is diminishing after each and every set … yikes!  Here is an example of the simplest form:

  • Run 400 meters (quarter mile), rest 1 minute
  • Run 400 meters, rest 45 seconds
  • Run 400 meters, rest 30 seconds
  • Run 400 meters, rest 15 seconds
  • Run 400 meters

Make sure you go all out, and time your runs (or, of course, you can modify it and walk, swim, bike, row, crawl … whatever), and try to beat your time with each consecutive set.  Obviously, this is very difficult with reduced recovery, but that is the fun part (and by fun, I mean tremendously exhausting).  The last set, which follows just 15 seconds of recovery time, is what I call the survival round.  You should already be toast from the first four runs, so this one is where you survive and get stronger.  Just think: Most people would have given up long ago (and those people will be swimming in T-shirts this summer, so you will get the last laugh).

Second Option

Another way to do a reduced recovery workout (this method is really truly my favorite, so you know what that means), is to turn the recovery into what I call active recovery.  This means you are still doing work, just at a lower intensity and different from what you have been doing.  Active recovery still allows your heart rate to drop, but it is a good opportunity to make the most of your time and get in some extra conditioning (perfect for all you super busy Laguna Niguel moms, dads and extremely driven career-oriented-types).  This type of workout is designed for people who have already been working out and have some sort of a base built up, so proceed with caution. 

Listen to your body, and if it is really too much (not just because you are lazy and dreaming of grilled cheese sandwiches and chocolate cake), just take the full recovery and build up to the active recovery.  Here is an example of a reduced recovery workout with active recovery:

  • One minute squat jumps, plank (holding your body still and flat in a prone position utilizing just your elbows and toes) 1 minute.
  • One minute squat jumps, plank 45 seconds
  • One minute squat jumps, plank 30 seconds
  • One minute squat jumps, plank 15 seconds
  • One minute squat jumps

This workout is so incredibly effective, because you are getting your cardio and strength in with the squat jumps, and you are also getting bonus core work in-between.  Do a few different variations of this workout, and you will be one hot cookie (minus eating an actual cookie) on the beach this summer.  Just remember—the best place to work out is in the beautiful  where fresh air and sunshine are plentiful, which means you are also getting your daily dose of vitamin D.


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