Whenever I think of recovering faster, I hear my dad in the back of my head telling me to sleep faster when I only had 4 hours until the morning. I by no means want you to start short changing your recovery time nor trying to psychologically speed up the process.  I do want you to consider how fast your heart rate recovers and some valuable information we can provide to educate our riders.

I”™ve mentioned numerous times that I use recovery between efforts as a litmus test to determine whether a person is working at the appropriate intensity. The length of time given for recovery is often directly linked to the level of intensity we expected. For intensities that fall in the 80-95% range, I often provide a minimum of 3 minutes of recovery before the next effort. To put more context around this, if I was asking my riders to maintain a hard effort of 80% or greater for 3 to 5 minutes, I would provide 3 minutes for them to recovery.  In a similar fashion, I may throw 4 to 8 short 1-minute intervals at them with only 30-60 seconds of intermediate recovery (between intervals), but would then give them 3-5 minutes to recovery after the set.

With both of the above scenarios in mind, I would expect riders to “need” at least 2 minutes to allow their heart rates to drop (near 60-70%) with the third minute providing some transition time before we launch into the next challenge. The bigger issue is always, did they work hard enough? And frankly, without a heart rate monitor it is very subjective. They may say, “I felt like it was hard, but then I recovered within a minute and now I”™m ready to go”.  It is far more objective for a rider to say, “I ended that last interval with my heart rate at 165 BPM and 2 minutes later it went down to 130 BPM”.

So what”™s happening when someone pushes very hard and does not recovery very much within the 3-minute period? This is a question a few riders asked me this week. Here are 3 possible answers:

(1)  The rider may be deconditioned and has possibly pushed himself or herself too hard. This is common with indoor classes that cater to all levels of fitness. Some riders do not have the body awareness and find themselves beyond their limit. They usually don”™t have to stop riding, but you may want to suggest they take more time to recover before jumping back in. This suggestion is a sign of a mature and professional instructor who is not just interested in beating the riders to a pulp.

(2)  The rider is just tired from a long day or is maybe lacking sleep or has not eaten well. This is where you can ask if this is a common occurrence or something they are just experiencing today. Similar to the rider above, they may need to sit out a few efforts or drills and then jump in once they feel recovered.

(3)  The rider is borderline over-reaching or over-training. This is sadly a “silent-killer” in the fitness world. People workout on a regular schedule, regardless of whether the intensity and volume is correct, and eventual find themselves plateauing because they have not taken time to recover. I would ask this rider, “when the last time you took a light week or a total week off?” If they didn”™t know or it was more than 5-6 weeks ago, I would strongly recommend they take the next 5-7 days off. Now, they don”™t have to do completely nothing during those 5-7 days, but the intensities should be very light (50-60% perceived effort). If a person didn”™t feel they had the disciple to go easy, then I would recommend they refrain totally.

As fitness professionals, we have to be prepared to help people deal with the challenges they experience as they strive for a healthy body. This includes saying the hard things (because they don”™t want to hear it -  which is why they are where they are at). So how can our riders recover faster after hard efforts (a sign of good fitness), it just may be that they need to pay more attention to their body”™s signals for overall rest. It is our job, to provide the valuable input that helps them make an educated decision. Eventually then need to believe that rest and recovery IS training.

Originally posted 2012-02-16 18:52:36.

Tom Scotto
Latest posts by Tom Scotto (see all)

Add Your Thoughts...