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Options for converting high intenstiy exercises into a recovery workout

By Lawrence Biscontini, June Kahn

You can try almost any of the cardiovascular activities and workouts in this book at a lower intensity on a recovery workout day. Keep in mind that the fact that these activities are not in the mind–body recovery category specifically doesn’t mean that you should relinquish the responsibility to maintain an awareness of the brain–body–breath connection. Following are some additional options for making any typical workout a recovery workout:

  • Decreasing the amount of time you spend in your workout
  • Decreasing the range of motion of your moving joints
  • Taking away the use of your arms
  • Slowing down your overall speed
  • Decreasing the intensity setting of any given cardiovascular machine
  • Taking a recovery ride (indoor cycling class)
  • Taking a step class without the step (i.e., in a step class in which everyone else is using a platform, do the movement on the floor without the platform)
  • Shortening your running distance, duration, or both
  • Taking a group class catered to first-timers with a lower intensity
  • Trying a new workout on a recovery day (when you are unfamiliar with a piece of equipment or type of class, your initial intensity usually is lower than it will be when you are familiar with the motor skills required of your muscles)


Keep in mind that you may have a more enjoyable experience if your recovery workout varies from your regular morning cardio workouts. The purpose of recovery is to do something different that is less than the scope of your normal workload. Recovery days are also great times to review your goals, return to the ideas in this book, and make sure you are changing the way you are taxing your heart!

Recovery and rest days also give you an ideal time to address balance. Balance means many things in fitness: mental balance, muscular balance, balance in activity choices for morning cardio workouts, balance in nutrition, and balance in strength and flexibility training. The term also signifies proprioception, which means being able to use your muscles collectively to maintain any position in space at any given moment. Proprioceptors are sensory mechanisms found in all nerve endings located in the muscles and tendons. They are responsible for relaying all information about your musculoskeletal system to your central nervous system, giving you a perception of your body’s position in space. Together with muscles and tendons, they help you find balance in various positions, including standing, kneeling, and sitting. When you train balance, you are also training the way your muscles work together so that your proprioceptors become more reactive and stronger. This is important for maintaining a stable body position in every activity, reacting appropriately to unexpected changes such as when you are avoiding trips and slips, and trying new workouts safely because you are likely to remain stable. Ultimately, because your goal is to address your brain–body–breath connection in every morning cardio workout, being aware of your proprioceptors when you add balance to your workout helps you work on this trilogy. To be successful in the following exercises, you will need an alert mental state involving concentration for balance (brain), a willing bundle of muscles (body), and an awareness of even breathing (breath). On your rest day, take some time to enhance proprioception, or balance, by practicing the following:


  • Single-leg stance. Stand on one leg while maintaining a slight bend in the supporting leg for 10 seconds. Try to increase the time you stand on one leg. To increase difficulty, bend the supporting leg more. Close your eyes to challenge your other proprioceptors more actively. Use your arms as needed: In the beginning extend your arms out to the sides (holding onto a chair or wall if necessary), and as you become familiar and proficient, practice the single-leg stance with your arms crossed in front of your chest, with your hands in your pockets, and ultimately, with your eyes closed. You will notice that your ankle muscles and other muscles “turn on” more when you close your eyes!
  • Yoga chair pose. With your feet and knees together, squat down as if to sit in a chair to a comfortable knee angle. Keep your arms at your sides without touching your body. Concentrate on moving your buttocks (gluteals) behind you instead of letting your knees move forward. Hold the position for 10 seconds. Try to increase the time you squat here. To increase difficulty, raise one foot off the ground for 10 seconds while simultaneously raising your arms overhead without bending your elbows. Repeat to the other side. Try to repeat for longer periods of time.


Rest and recovery are incredibly important to any fitness routine. With recovery workouts, either mind–body walking or a modified form of cardiovascular activities, the load, time, and intensity all decrease, giving you more time to train balance and address the brain–body–breath connection.

This is an excerpt from Morning Cardio Workouts.


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Morning Cardio Workouts

Morning Cardio Workouts

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