Make protecting your gains in 2020 a top priority by ensuring your holiday season includes getting these five recovery tools in your gym.

1. Prowler®/Sled

Recovery doesn’t have to be complicated. If we are breaking tissue down while training, then we need to build that tissue back up in order to get stronger and progress. Building your soft tissues back up after a training session or during an injury requires plenty of blood circulation to get oxygen and nutrients in and get debris and waste out. Simple as that.

So what can we do to speed this process up? By increasing blood flow of course! To do this, we need some low-intensity stress on the cardiovascular system. If you’re not so out of shape that simply walking increases your heart rate enough to spur extra blood flow, a tried and true technique is harness up on a sled or Prowler®. Slap a plate on and drag it around for 20 minutes to increase blood flow and recover quicker. If you are actually that out of shape - you need the sled even more badly in 2020.

 2. elitefts Bands

By far the most versatile and cost-effective recovery tool on the market, resistance bands can be used to pump blood into a region of the body, distract joints, and stretch soft tissues – at an affordable price.

To round out your recovery assets make sure to get a micro, mini, light, and average band. Smaller resistance profiles like the micro and mini bands can be used to contract, activate, and recover smaller stabilizers.

3. Knee Wraps/Floss Bands

Wraps can be useful for more than just protecting your knees and wrists – it can also be used as a great recovery tool. Blood flow restriction has shown a lot of success since its start in the military with amputees and other veterans who had to build their strength up without being able to use heavier loads.

If you are dealing with tendinitis, low-grade strains, and other mild injuries that could benefit from increased blood flow in the joint or muscle, simply utilize these wraps as a tourniquet proximally to your area of complaint and complete multiple sets to pump a large amount of blood in the region without needing heavier weights. Pick an exercise (or exercises) that targets the joint or muscle group you wish to work on. These movements are usually regressed and lower weights. They are often single-joint movements but can be compound movements based on the need of the individual. Wrap the tourniquet tight enough to create a restriction of blood flow - about 50-80 percent is recommended, but I usually end up in the lower half of that range. Basically, you want to feel an insane pump/burn but no so much that you feel like you’re going through SERE school. Once you find that gray area between decent pump and your limb feeling like a boiling pot of water, complete the following set and rep scheme.

  • Set 1 – 30 reps, 30-second rest
  • Set 2 – 15 reps, 30-second rest
  • Set 3 – 15 reps, 30-second rest
  • Set 4 – 15 reps, 30-second rest

After the fourth set, either move directly into the next movement or remove the wrap. If you continue to the next movement, your first set will be 15 reps. If you take the wrap off and reapply, you must do 30 reps on the first set again to re-establish a build-up of blood.

P.S. If you really want to have a blast, use the floss bands instead of wraps.

4. Freeze Sleeves

Elbows and knees are definitely joints that take a beating on a regular basis. Thankfully, elitefts just released a fantastic product called Freeze Sleeves to help keep your elbow and knee recovery on point. Whether you feel like someone took a maul to your forearms after bench day, or your patellar tendons feel as tense as steel cable when you squat, these sleeves will provide a massive benefit.

One of the biggest perks of this product is simply the design. Rather than having to hold a stupid ice bag or wrap yourself like a mummy in saran wrap, these sleeves will stay put – because, well, they are sleeves. This means you will likely use them more often, because you don’t have to stop what you’re doing to get some extra recovery in. Keep them in the freezer at work, home or even the gym.

The second benefit is the compression aspect. These sleeves will help compress the area around the joint, ensuring that fluid and inflammation doesn’t excessively accumulate and that new fluids can be moved into the area. Considering traditional icing recommendations follow a pneumonic called RICE - Rest. Ice. Compression. Elevate. A sleeve that compresses, gets ice cold, and can be used anywhere? Why didn’t I think of that?!

5. Reverse Hyper™

I along with a ton of other people have written extensively on the importance of the Reverse Hyper™ in building up the back whether it be preventative, after an injury, or simply for recovery. The ability to move the spine through a full range of motion while being stabilized and in a tractioned position is what makes this machine so awesome.

Simply throw this movement in for moderate weight as a warm-up and preventative measure or after heavy loading days to create some distraction and recovery. A couple of sets of 10-15 at 50% will do wonders.

Want to prevent injury by building a bulletproof back? You better throw the Reverse Hyper™ in your programming! Alternate light and loose days for more traction and recovery or heavy and tight days to focus on throwing a huge pump into the posterior chain. You can’t go wrong with the Reverse Hyper™.

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