Home Body Building Supplements 5 Recovery Workouts That Accelerate Gains – T NATION+ – COMMUNITY

5 Recovery Workouts That Accelerate Gains – T NATION+ – COMMUNITY

5 Recovery Workouts That Accelerate Gains – T NATION+ – COMMUNITY

Better Than Just Sitting Around

Optimize off days for better recovery, mobility, resilience, and even gains. Here are five ways to do it.

Recovery days expedite the growth process, but few lifters optimize them. Here are five ways to better use your recovery days, and they all beat the outdated “just rest” advice.

1. Band Work

Bands aren’t just for physical therapists. Westside Barbell demonstrated this by using bands on dynamic effort days.

For recovery days, you don’t have to attach them to barbells to be effective. Instead, use them as a stand-alone tool for exercises lacking volume in your programming, such as band pull-throughs, pushdowns, extensions, curls, face-pulls, and pull-aparts.

The band switches up the strength curve. It has the most tension at the top of the movement, making it hardest at the end range. The tension decreases as the band loosens through the eccentric or negative phase – the muscle contraction that produces the most muscle damage.

By removing the high-demand eccentric, bands allow you to isolate muscles without adding more muscle damage to yesterday’s workout. And tomorrow’s session won’t be negatively affected by doing band work the day before. If anything, expect better pumps and less fatigue.

Bands are also useful in introducing rotational work. Most lifters rarely add rotation into their programming, making it a missing area of development.


  • Do 2-3 sets per exercise done as a strength circuit
  • Rest 45 seconds between exercises
  • Do 3-5 exercises hitting various muscle groups

2. Mobility Work

Most lifters suffer from acute muscle strains and tight joints and, in some cases, a major lack of mobility in overused muscles. This is especially true for those who’ve lifted for years with very little emphasis on priming the body before workouts. Mobility sessions make the body more resilient and ward off the injuries that’ll take you away from lifting.

Focus on 2-3 noticeably tight or weak areas of the body and pick 1-2 exercises for that muscle group. Full-body flows are also great options. A combo of movements like a high plank to downward dog into the world’s greatest stretch is one example.


Do 1-3 total exercises for 2 sets and 8-12 reps per exercise. Think thoracic, shoulder, and ankle mobility. Pick one exercise per area.

3. GPP Work

Athletes and lifters should sustain GPP (general physical preparedness) regardless of their goals. Function and performance are two skills worth maintaining.

Sled work and carries should be go-to exercises within a training program. These blend performance with muscle gain. Sleds and carries are isometric and concentric in nature, which means they won’t produce a ton of localized fatigue on any particular area of the body due to the non-existent eccentric phase.

These tools speed up recovery, and you can use them for conditioning and improving on weak areas like posterior chain development, stability, and core/trunk strengthening.

And yes, you can do them as low-intensity muscle-builders on recovery days. A few sets of heavier sled pushes won’t do much damage but will certainly send an adaptive response to the lower body to get bigger and stronger. I recommend pushing a lighter sled for longer durations on recovery days.

Exercises such as high-volume low-back work like reverse hypers and back extensions are also good options on GPP days.


  • Sled exercises: backward drags, sled drives, lateral step-overs, etc.
  • Carry exercises: Classic farmer’s carry, suitcase carry, front rack march, overhead carry, etc.
  • Do 2-5 sets of one exercise for each category (sled drag and carry) for 30-100 yards.
  • Back extensions: 2-3 sets of 15-20 reps. Rest 60-75 seconds.

4. Low-Intensity Conditioning

Cardio doesn’t cause muscle loss if programmed intelligently. Low-intensity cardio means a stronger aerobic base, equating to increased blood flow to working muscles and organs and increased mitochondria density. This improves work output and speeds up recovery during workouts.

These sessions can be as simple as 20-30 minutes of zone 2 training on cardio equipment. To make things more interesting, combine a couple different cardio machines in one session. Stay on each one for 10-15 minutes. I like the Stair Master, high-incline treadmill work, and the rower.

Here’s the formula to calculate your zone 2 heart rate:

220 – (your age) x .7 or .8 = Zone 2 heart rate

The goal is to stay as close as possible to this number throughout your workout.


Do one session a week for 20-40 minutes. Examples include:

  • Rower x 10 minutes
  • Stair Climber x 10 minutes
  • High-Incline Treadmill Jog x 10 minutes

5. Hike or Walk Outdoors

The sun and nature are cheap, organic recovery tools. The sun provides a natural source of vitamin D, a proven anabolic hormone enhancer. This creates a stronger growth environment to increase muscle tissue and speed up repair and regeneration.

Vitamin D deficiency reduces testosterone production, a main hormone signaler for muscle growth and enhanced quality of life. A good mood means more motivation to crush a challenging workout and less stress, increasing gym performance.

In regards to nature, a recent study found that simply viewing nature improved the activation of the parasympathetic nervous system. A stress-reducing environment means less inflammation and faster recovery.

You also get the benefit of fresh air and movement. Movement (or non-exercise physical activity) speeds recovery more than sitting around. It increases circulation to sore muscles while sending the signal to the brain that we’re in need of a strong, healthy body that’s primed to move.

I gravitate to trail walks or hiking since it recruits more musculature than walking on a flat surface. It also combines all three pillars: nature, sunlight, and uphill walking.

It’s better to move the day after a heavy lifting session, which craps on the idea of just lying on the couch waiting for Grandma to bring you a protein shake.


Walk and hike whenever you have the opportunity.

Make any workout work better. Fuel it.



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