You just completed a hard interval style workout, you look up at the clock and note your time then you collapse on the floor to “recover.” Or, you finish a round on the rower or assault bike and lay on the floor before the next round starts.
Is this the best way to finish a workout? You’re probably thinking, ‘YES! I can hardly breathe and I need to recover.’
But, is this the best thing to do for your body? NO! Think about watching Michael Phelps as he finishes a gold medal swim race, say the 400m IM (an extremely high demand, high heart rate event). What does he do when he finishes and is off camera? He hits the warm0down pool for some laps.
What do olympic runners do at the end of a race? More running to warm down. There are many physiological reason for this with the main one being you need to down-regulate your body from the extreme exertion you were in and get back to normal levels. We won’t bore you with all of the details about the importance of this, but your body really needs a good warm down and benefits greatly from this.
Here’s a major benefit that may be of much more interest to you: by not laying on the floor after a workout, a round, a set, or a race you will increase your fitness level AND teach your body and mind how to stay upright and keep moving even when you are tired. That’s right, you can increase your fitness level faster with this one simple tip. By staying upright and moving around, you will keep your heart rate (HR) elevated for a longer period of time, though it is still dropping, and thus have an higher average HR.
Scenario #1: you finish a hard row, HR rate is at 180 bpm, and you roll off the rower onto the floor and lay there for 3 minutes. I know, it feels awesome. Your HR will come down relatively quickly, maybe to 120 bpm. You then get up, feel really tired and worn out and ask your body to start moving again.
Scenario #2: same as scenario #1, but you walk around for 3 minutes. Your HR will go from 180 bpm to 150 BPM. At the end of the 3 minutes you will not feel as tired, your body has adjusted slowly to back to a normal HR, and you averaged approximately 15-20 more BPM during the same 3 minutes. Higher average HR over time = better fitness.
As long as you are at the gym and working hard, you should maximize each and ever session for more effective results. Try this one simple tip and see if your work capacity improves at a faster rate.
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