I’ve been referring to Joel Jamieson a lot lately. And for good reason… he’s arguably the smartest guy on the planet when it comes to conditioning protocols for both performance and recovery. And just recently he covered the importance of a proper cooldown on recovery.
For efficiency’s sake, I’m just going to quote him directly regarding his thoughts on a proper cooldown and how to execute it:
Don’t neglect the cooldown if you want to maximize your recovery (and results).
The reason it’s so important is that you have to shut your sympathetic (fight or flight) system down before your body can start repairing and rebuilding (parasympathetic).
Everyone loves to spend a ton of time doing a warmup, but then they just finish their last set and walk out of the gym.
This is a big mistake that can dramatically slow down recovery.
Every cooldown should have at least three stages:
- Active cooldown (3 min) – nose-only, low intensity bike, row, or walk
- Recovery breathing (2 min) – focus on bringing heart rate down, prolonged exhale
- Soft tissue work (5 min) – foam rolling or body tempering
The goal of every cooldown is to walk out of the gym with your heart rate the same (or lower) than when you walked in.
Nothing will sabotage your recovery faster than staying sympathetic for hours after the training session.
So given that information, here’s what I recommend:
The SHOP Recovery Protocol
- Nose-Only Assault Bike x 3 min
- Legs-Up-The-Wall Breathing x 2 min
- Foam Rolling x 5 min
Total time taken is 10 minutes. And your ROI will be 10x the amount of time you invest. Now, a couple of comments…
- Your pace on the Assault Bike should be slow. This is NOT another workout.
- During your recovery breathing, try using a 4-count on the inhale and an 8-count on the exhale.
- With this foam rolling, you should target the tissues that just got worked the most. For example, after a lot of double unders, you will probably need to target your calves. After a lot of KB Swings or Nordic Curls, you will probably need to target your hamstrings.
- MINIMUM: 1x per week, after an intense conditioning workout
- RECOMMENDED: 3x per week, after each conditioning workout
- OPTIMUM: after every workout
TESTING & PROOF
I fully understand that one data point doesn’t prove anything. But the trend below from my HRV data is certainly interesting enough to warrant my attention. You can see that my HRV was declining over the course of the week, likely due to the accumulation of training sessions over the week. On Saturday, we did “Death by Calories” and I was crushed in the last round. I immediately implemented the SHOP Recovery Protocol (walking instead of Assault Bike since the bike had just destroyed me), and I felt noticeably better walking out of the gym than if I hadn’t done anything. Then, like I do every morning, I checked my sleep stats and my HRV and there was a HUGE uptick in my HRV! Like I said, this doesn’t prove anything. But it certainly has my attention now.