As a reader of my blog, I can assume your goal is to look, perform, or feel better in some way, shape, or form. You’re probably looking to get lean, get big, or get strong and feel better all around…
No matter which of those goals you’re chasing, you need more muscle and less fat.
To achieve any or all of those goals, we need to think about many things. Some of those things are better hormonal balance, better movement and joint health, more muscle protein synthesis or creating an anabolic signal in the body more frequently so you can build more muscle, and nutrient partitioning (the body’s ability to utilize nutrients better).
Well today’s article is about achieving all of the above, with one easy training system and by doing this easy session throughout your week you can achieve the following:
– Better Joint health (leads to better performance).
– Faster recovery (leading to ability to train more frequently).
– Creating an anabolic signal through the body more often (produces more testosterone, growth hormone, and keeps you out of a catabolic state).
– Creates MPS (muscle protein synthesis) signaling more often.
– More blood flow into lagging muscles and body parts (leading to fast recovery, better pumps, and ultimately more stimulation to grow your weak or lagging muscle groups).
– Increase metabolic rate (obviously, leads to more fat loss long term).
At the end of the day, this is really just a list of things to get your leaner, more muscular and performing better.
But the best part about it is that it comes from one simple 10-minute session you can do at home, in the office, at the gym, in your backyard…. Shit, you can do this just about anywhere!
So what is this awesome, too good to be true, system I’m talking about? Glad you asked.
It’s what I’ve been using with myself personally and with many of my online clients, who also want to build muscle or be more defined as they lean out, for quite a while now.
Active Recovery Sessions
If you’ve ever heard of active recovery sessions, you’re probably familiar with them being walks in the park, hiking, playing tennis or hooping with your boys, or maybe if you’re a gym rat like me – pushing prowler or sprints on the AirDyne bike.
The point is that you’re still active on your rest day, not just sitting on your ass like a couch potato.
The purpose? Simple. It brings blood into the muscles, burns extra calories, speeds up recovery, gets your muscles active and moving, makes sure you’re not getting stiff on your day off, and ultimately leads to more muscle being built and more calories or fat being burnt, because of all that I just listed.
Most of the time people leave it at that… But what if your goal is bigger arms? Or a stronger chest? Or more defined shoulders and arms?
(This shit cracks me up every time I see it, but it does suit this article!)
Now, before you go hit the gym on your rest day cranking out heavy rack pulls and military presses as your “Active Recovery Day” because “Boom-Boom said too”, let me give you some guidelines.
Realize, the main purpose of choosing Sleds, Prowlers, walking, and/or AirDyne bikes on active recovery days for legs is because not only do they burn calories and build muscle, but they don’t have much, if any, of an eccentric loading phase in the movements. (*Eccentric = Negative)
This simply means they do not damage the tissue as much, but they still bring in a ton of blood flow because of the concentric work leading to the lactic acid build up when performing them – which can lead to improved recovery, growth, metabolic effect, calorie burn, and strength.
So when we apply these concepts to any other muscle group, we need to ensure that we’re not breaking down the muscle too much, pushing the intensity too hard, going overboard on volume, and always remember to keep your CNS (central nervous system) in mind.
If we smash the body part, as if it is a regular training session, it will have a drastic effect on our CNS. This can be a negative because we’re already working the CNS on our regular days and eventually can lead to overtraining, if you apply these Active Recovery Days into your training in the wrong way.
Now, lets go over the equipment needed, recommended movements, and reps/sets that will work best.
- Resistance Bands
- TRX Suspension Trainers
- Sleds or Prowlers
- AirDyne Bike
Looking at the things above, some of them have the eccentric load in the exercises that can be done. That is ok, just don’t over do it – follow the guidelines I’m going to give you and you wont.
- TRX Rows and/or Face Pulls
- TRX Push Ups and/or Fly’s
- Band Rows
- Band Lateral Raises
- Band Flys
- Band Curls
- Band Tricep Extensions
- Band Chest Fly’s
- Push Ups
- Partial Range of Motion Bodyweight Squats (no lockout)
- Partial Range of Motion Split Squats (no lockout)
- Prowler Push
- Sled Pulls
- AirDyne Bike Sprints
- Brisk Walking
- Mobility Work (Active Stretching, Crawling, etc.)
All the movements above focus on one common aspect, blood flow and constant tension – two things that help recovery and more muscle tissue being built. They also promote movement, which can help with your mobility and movement patterns when lifting in the gym as well.
Putting it into play – Reps/Set Scheme and Application
- 3-5 Sets Per Exercise
- 10-15 Reps Per Exercise
- Always have at least “2 in the tank”
- This is to ensure you’re not over doing it or affecting the central nervous system. These sessions should not be very difficult, they’re purpose it to activate the muscle, create blood flow, and build up an anabolic and metabolic response.
- Sets and exercise selection go hand in hand.
- If you choose 5 exercises then you would go with 3 sets and perform them as a circuit, super-setting each exercise together. If you choose 3 exercises, go with 5 sets. You get the idea, just be smart and don’t think “More is better” – because it’s not.
- Exercise selection determined by goals and your other workouts during the week.
- I suggest choosing muscle groups you either really want to focus on building and/or the ones you utilized most lifting the previous day and not the following. For instance – if I had a squat workout Monday, then Tuesday will have some partial bodyweight squats during my Active Recovery Session.
- Active Recovery Sessions can be performed 1-3 times per day.
- If you do only one, I suggest going with more rounds of the exercise and doing it first thing in the A.M. to get the anabolic signal and metabolic response in the body right away. If you perform it twice, drop a set. Same goes with if done three times per day – all being spread out evenly throughout your day.
Ok, now that I’ve broken down the what, how, and why with these sessions, lets put it into your gym routine so that you can start applying these and growing muscles like weeds.
3-Day Full Body Routine
Sunday – Active Recovery (AirDyne Bike Sprints 5 Rounds of 10-15 Second Sprints with 90-120 Second Rest Periods)
Monday – Full Body Strength
Tuesday – Active Recovery (5 Rounds of Band Curls, Band Chest Fly’s, and Bodyweight Partial Range Squats – all at 10-12 reps)
Wednesday – Full Body Strength
Thursday – Active Recovery (5 Rounds of 40 Yard Prowler Pushes, Band or TRX Rows, and Band Tricep Extensions – all at 10-12 reps)
Friday – Full Body Strength
Saturday – Active Recovery (5 Rounds of Band Lateral Raises, Band Face Pulls, and Push Ups – all at 10-12 reps)
4-Day Upper/Lower Routine
Sunday – Active Recovery Session
Monday – Lower Body Strength
Tuesday A.M. – Active Recovery Session
Tuesday P.M. – Upper Body Strength
Wednesday – Active Recovery Session
Thursday – Lower Body Hypertrophy
Friday – Active Recovery Session
Saturday A.M. – Upper Body Recovery
Saturday P.M. – Active Recovery Session
So as you can see from the template schedule above, you can use these as two-a-days, simply as your rest day by itself, multiple times throughout your rest days, or if you are running a 5-6 day split you could utilize these every morning when you wake!
The key is to not over do it, you do not want to fatigue your body or CNS on a day you’re lifting, nor should you do that on the days in between your lifts either. You also need to focus on the simple concept of listening to your body as you implement this.
Don’t treat this as a more is better theory and start your first week implementing 3 Active Recovery sessions per day, plus lifting 5 days per week. You will crash and burn; I don’t care how much you bench or how strong you are, “bro”.
Instead, treat this with logic and science. Leave a few in the tank, get a little pump, move the joints, stop way before failure, and add them into your routine slowly.
And before you create your own specific routine with this system, plan on journaling the process. That is how you get better, learn how much works for you, and how you’ll be able to truly witness your results and growth happen.
For more info on how you can apply this to your training and/or create a specific plan for you and your goals, click the link below to apply for a Coaching Discovery Call.