4 Benefits of Using ActivMotion Bars for Active Recovery
Using heavy barbells for strength exercises or kettlebells for explosive movements are a couple of my favorite ways to train. As much as I love a hard strength or power workout, as a fitness educator I know they place a lot of stress on the body and that an appropriate amount of recovery time is necessary to allow the tissues and nervous system to adapt to the imposed demands of the exercise. Allowing the body time to recover doesn’t mean taking a rest day but that the next day’s workout should be at a lower intensity or use the body differently than how it was challenged during the high intensity training day.
Traditional barbell exercises like the deadlift, bent over row, power clean, front squat and even the push press are great for developing strength but only engage the muscle in one, dominant plane of motion. Likewise, many kettlebell exercises are great for improving power and range of motion but, again, those exercises have a path of motion often limited to a single plane. A dynamic balance workout featuring full body movements is one of my favorite ways to recover from a high intensity strength or power day because you’re able to move through multiple planes of motion to engage the entire fascial network and not just a few muscle groups. It’s important to realize that many strength and power exercises focus on specific muscle groups or movement patterns and don’t engage all of the fascia and elastic tissue responsible for connecting all muscles to one another. Challenging dynamic balance and control of the body’s center of gravity is an effective strategy for training the fascia and connective tissue while the skeletal muscles are still recovering from the previous day’s high intensity workout.
One of my favorite tools to use during a dynamic balance workout for active recovery is the ActivMotion Bar. When I first saw the AMB at the health club industry trade show in 2015 I knew I had to pick some up. What I really like about the ActivMotion Bar is that the shifting mass in each bar is an effective way to engage all of the connective tissues responsible for transmitting force between various skeletal muscles and body segments.
Dynamic balance workouts will challenge all of the muscles responsible for stabilizing and moving your center of gravity. (Note: many people often call these the ‘core muscles’ which isn’t necessarily wrong but it’s such an over-used term that I try to focus on other benefits of using these muscles and dynamic balance is one such benefit). You can still keep your high intensity training day the same but the next time you are looking for a lower-intensity training challenging for an active recovery day consider the following benefits of using an ActivMotion Bar for a dynamic balance workout to promote recovery:
- The shifting mass of the ball bearings can help transmit dynamic forces through the fascia and connective tissue helping them to become more resilient against injuries like strains or pulls.
- Using the lighter ActivMotion Bars for higher rep ranges can be an effective way to increase cardiorespiratory demand and circulation which can help flush metabolic waste and deliver oxygen to promote tissue repair.
- Moving through multiple planes of motion will engage numerous muscles to work synergistically to produce and control movement helping improve overall coordination and neuromuscular control.
- Balancing on a single leg while moving the ActivMotion Bar will use the smaller hip muscles responsible for controlling stability in the frontal and transverse planes. Heavy strength training the day before can fatigue the gluteus maximus or hamstring muscles, as those muscles recover dynamic balance exercises can engage the gluteus medius and the adductors to create dynamic stability while on a single leg.
These are some of my favorite ActivMotion Bar exercises that can help promote recovery from a heavy day of lifting:
Single Leg Balance with Reaches
Balance on each leg for 30-45 seconds and reach in multiple directions to challenge stability; rest for 30-45 seconds after using both legs and repeat for 2-4 sets.
Single leg Romanian Deadlift (RDL)
Balance on a single leg, hinge from the hip and reach forward with the ActivMotion Bar, to increase the challenge reach in different directions with each repetition. 8-12 reps on each leg, rest for 1 min. after using both legs, repeat for 2-4 sets.
Reverse Lunge to Balance with Reaches
Transitioning from a lunge to holding a balanced position is one of my favorite ways to engage the hips, adding a reach with a dynamic, variable resistance like the ActivMotion Bar only makes it that much more difficult.
8-10 reps on each leg – reaching for a different spot with the bar each time; rest for 1 min. after using both legs, repeats for 2-4 sets.
Lateral lunge w trunk rotation
When my hip extensors are sore from a heavy workout I like challenging other leg muscles with integrated movement patterns like a frontal plane lunge with reach. 8-10 reps on each leg – reach across the body with each rep; rest for 1 min after using both legs, repeat for 2-4 sets.
Give these exercises with your AMB a try on your next recovery or balance-specific training day!
ActivMotion Training utilizes the innovative, dynamic nature of the ActivMotion Bar’s internal rolling steel weights to provide an unparalleled fitness experience that ignites the body and mind in completely new ways. See How