Jason Rhymer's picture

By Mike T Nelson, CSCS, PhD

Recovery is not a bad word and everyone needs to take time to rest and recharge.  God took it easy on the Sabbath. You should too!

When you are training, you are creating the stimulus for a positive adaptation (fat loss, more strength, better cardio, etc).  The actual changes however, happen when you are NOT in the gym.

All too often I see people who are trying really really hard, but their progress has stalled or even started to regress.

It is no fun putting in all the work and not seeing results.

This is where I have found recovery work to be a key component for faster progress to achieve your goals.

Your body is amazing and it has the ability to regenerate and literally become better, but that does not happen instantly.

Recovery 101 – What To Do

There are many things you can do for recovery, but this is one of my favorites.  I’ve found over the years that a shorter and lighter day works much better than just sitting around all day not moving.

For recovery, use a circuit style session done with a heart rate around 120-140 bpm (beats per minute) for about 20-50 minutes. 

If you can, I recommend doing this first thing in the morning in a fasted state (no food).  If not, don’t sweat it.  Make it work for you. If your training session needs to be later in the day, try to fast for 4 hours beforehand.

The goal here is to ramp up the use of fat as a fuel to get those mitochondrial (the energy furnaces in the cells) cranking.  This also helps get some more blood flow to connective tissue that tends to be quite avascular (limited blood flow). 

3 Keys To Faster Recovery

1) Teach your body to use fat even more efficiently

2) Increase the number of fat burning furnaces (mitochondria)

3) Get more blood to your connective tissues.

Sample Routine for Fast Recovery

This is just an example and there are many that you can create.  The idea is to stay in the heart rate (HR) range of 120-140 bpm with almost constant movement. 

If you don’t have a HR monitor, only breath through your nose.  This will limit how high your heart rate will go and keep you pretty close to the upper end of 140 bpm.


I) Light sledgehammer strikes on a tire around 20-30 reps per side

Super set with

II) Bodyweight overhead squats around 15-20 reps.

Alternate back and forth, resting as needed, for about 15 minutes.

Another option is to do alternating bodyweight step ups with pushups. If you are advanced, put your feet on the bench/stairs.  If you are a beginner, put your hands on the bench/stairs.  Keep the reps perfect in the 12-15 rep range for both exercises.  

There are tons of options you can do.  Check the archives of the Faith & Fitness Magazine Training Department for other program ideas or adapt one of your favorite workouts.

The key is a moderate HR and don’t make it too hard.


Each week add 5 minutes to the total time, which looks like

Week 1 – 15 minutes

Week 2 – 20 minutes

Week 3 – 25 minutes

Week 4 – 30 minutes

This should be pretty easy. 


For recovery work and to burn more fat, try some fasted, low to moderate heart rate work.

You will leave feeling fresh and be able to hit it hard in the gym the next day for continual progress.


    Dr. Mike T. Nelson has spent 18 years of his life learning how the human body works, specifically focusing on how to properly condition it to burn fat and become stronger, more flexible, and healthier.   He's has a PhD in Exercise Physiology, a BA in Natural Science, and an MS in Biomechanics.  He's an adjunct professor and a member of the American College of Sports Medicine.  He's been called in to share his techniques with top government agencies.   The techniques he's developed, and the results Mike gets for his clients have been featured in international magazines, in scientific publications, and on websites across the globe.   Speaking with Dr Mike for just a few minutes can shave years off of your efforts, and help you get results that most people just dream about...



About the Author

  • Jason Rhymer's picture
    Jason Rhymer is the Training Department Editor of Faith & Fitness Magazine. He is the High School Youth "Guy" at Myers Park United Methodist Church in Charlotte, NC and the Clergy Health Fitness Coordinator for the Clergy Health Institute through Pfeiffer University. Jason leads bootcamps and personal training sessions in Charlotte, NC, and has trained ages 5 to 90 over his 15 year career.

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