Something I implement in my own bench training as well as my clients training is a "recovery" day. Since I usually have clients on a high frequency bench program, the workout during the middle of the week is used to help promote recovery between more stress inducing bench sessions.
What constitutes a recovery day you might ask? Well the idea behind recovery day is to be able to get more time under the bar to enhance technique but most of all get blood flowing to the areas that are fatigued in order to promote quicker recovery than not training at all. Usually on recovery day is when I'll implement a tool such as the bamboo bar where the loading is very low. This will help the bench press by improving shoulder stability and technique while keeping stress down in the body from only using low loads
The other principle behind recovery day is using higher reps to get a "pump". The pump is that feeling of engorgement you feel from getting direct blood flow into the area being trained. I tell clients to never train close to failure on this day. We will usually bench feet up and focus on the upper body and chest working with very light weights trying to get that pump feel. Using dumbbells also works well here. Bodybuilding style training but without the use of failure pretty much sums up this style of training. We are trying to feel the muscles working rather than utilizing every available variable to push the most weight
Now that you understand a little more about the goal of the day and how the workout runs, I'll share with you a sample bench press recovery day, I ,or a client might use during the training cycle.
Recovery Day Sample Workout
Bamboo Bar - 3x12
Feet Up Flat Bench - 3x15 (35-45%)
Close Grip Cable Pulldown - 2x20
Tricep Pushdown - 2x25
Defranco Band Pull Aparts - 2x30
Band Pushdown - 100x (break up as needed)
As you can see, very high reps are used on this day. The feeling you get after this workout is very different from the average training session. You aren't left fatigued and jittery from stressing the body and nervous system, but rather you feel more alert and pumped up throughout the upper body benching musculature. It is a very refreshing feeling that will carry over to helping those muscles recover from a hard training session a couple days prior
Blood is how nutrients travel around the body and when we create a scenario where most the blood is traveling to the muscles we are trying to recover, we have a potent formula for healing and recovery. The postworkout meal to this workout is key to helping feed those muscles protein and carbohydrates
Another good exercise to keep up with while you aren't in the gym training is push ups. Push ups can be done on a daily basis at different points throughout the day. Not only is it great to strengthen the joints and build some upper body strength, but when not taken to failure all the time it can be a viable option for recovery purposes. Take advantage of your rest time and make it count. You can always work to set yourself up for a great following session whether its through nutrition, sleep, or recovery style work
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