In today’s fitness culture we miss a very important aspect of training and that is the ability to recover efficiently between efforts. Everyone is in a big hurry to rush from one exercise to the next or finding ways to fill in the “free time” between exercises and this is a huge mistake. Your ability to recover between hard efforts is a vital skill that can be just as important as training your ability to work hard.

Once you’ve improved your ability to recover you will improve your overall speed and enjoyment as you find yourself able to charge harder late into rides.

On the trail this is a very under appreciated skill in the rush to work harder and longer. A lot of times it is not the ability to go faster that separates the best from the rest, it is the ability to sustain those their speed later into a ride. This comes from not going faster than everyone else when it is time to go hard but instead the ability to quickly and efficiently recover whenever the opportunity presents itself.

For example, if you are climbing up a trail that has steep, technical sections followed by short, flatter sections then it is usually the ability to recover on the flatter parts so they can keep charging on the hard parts that separates the riders that dominate the climb from those that survive it. Same thing on technical, rough downhills – the ability to recover between efforts is important to staying strong later into rides. Add this up over the course of a 1.5-2 hour ride and often times a rider feels that they aren’t fit enough when it is really a matter of not recovering well when between hard efforts.

This ability to recover is not something most people know how to train and consists of two parts:

  1. Lowering the Heart Rate.If you can quickly lower your heart rate when the opportunity presents itself you will be able to work harder on the next effort. Your hear rate is also an indicator of how well you have repaid the oxygen debt from the last hard effort and being able to lower it faster indicates in improvement in the metabolic pathways responsible for it.In order to do this you have to drive your breathing from your diaphragm and not your chest. This is accomplished by breathing deeply in through the nose by expanding the belly and out through the nose by contracting the belly. If you are not familiar with good diaphragmatic breathing then check out the this article to learn more about it plus a cool kettlebell swing drill you can do to train it.
  1. Lowering Muscle Tension.If you can get rid of excessive muscle tension quickly then you can move with more strength and efficiency during your next hard effort. Residual muscle tension adds up slowly, making you feel stiff and less powerful. Lowered muscle tension also makes it easier for the heart rate to drop back down, helping you in that area as well.The best way to train this is to “shake off” the tension between exercises. Shaking your arms and/ or legs like you would if you were trying to shake water off of them will help get rid of the excessive tension. Since you can’t shake your arms and legs like that unless you have relaxed them it teaches you the feeling of relaxing your limbs on command, which comes in handy then you have a chance to sit down and relax on the trail.

It sounds pretty simple and it really is – train you ability to quickly and efficiently recover between hard efforts in training and you will find it improving on the trail as well. Recognize that the time between sets and exercises is a vital component of your training program and not something to be minimized or filled in with something to keep your occupied. Once you’ve improved your ability to recover you will improve your overall speed and enjoyment as you find yourself able to charge harder late into rides.

-James Wilson-

Additional Resource

If you are not sure exactly how this “train your recovery” concept would look in action then check out the new Time Crunched Trail Rider Solution. In the follow-along workout videos I take you through recovery breathing and “shaking off tension” between efforts, showing you exactly how to employ this powerful concept.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *