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What are some effective ways to decrease recovery time? I find my recovery times are in excess of 30 minutes after hard exercise, such as sprinting (on a road bike), despite exercising fairly regularly.

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Recovery in terms of what - heart rate, lactic acid, overall feel? You give an example of "sprinting (on a road bike)". How long is this sprint? Is this an all out sprint? What's your HR during and after this effort? –  Ryan Miller Jun 6 '11 at 13:54
    
Agree w/Ryan. What is your expectation or definition of "recovery"? –  Tony R Jun 6 '11 at 17:47
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2 Answers 2

30 minutes is a long time for someone in good physical condition.

The better the pcysical condition, the lower the recovery time and the faster you will be able to work on again.
But everything depends...

If you make a short 100 metres sprint or a max-pulse cycling uphill over a long period of time, there is quite a difference. You must take in account the oxygen dept, and if you over a long period don't give your body the oxygen it strives for, you will of course feel it for just as long afterwards.
The oxygen dept will be lowered as you gain in physical condition and train your lung capacity and heart size and strengh.

To improve your recovery effect in your body, I will suggest running and a lot of interval training - short intervals with high intensity and almost max-pulse and many repetitions with very small pauses in between, so you never catch your breath fully and never has time to get your pulse down.
It is proven that this kind of running that is anaerobic exercise, where you use the muscles explosive power with high intensity for short sprinting periodes, effectively increase your aerobic activity performance, because the pulse is held almost at max all the time and then tried to be pushed over the limit. And it might increase it much more effectively than similar ordinary aerobic training.
You will train heart, lungs and muscles - a good way of training to get better, though it might not always be pleasent (especially not to begin with).

I suspect you are talking about getting your recovery time after aerobic exercises decreased, and then this would be my suggestion.

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I think you've conditioned your body by following the same routine for a long time '...despite exercising fairly regularly...' - as Einstein said: Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

If you want to recover faster after a 1/2 intense workout - then you need to workout longer to condition your body to that and then the shorter workout will not tax your body as much reducing the recovery period. I'm not sure if that's what your intent is - is your goal to reduce recovery so you can work out more? or is it to maintain your current level but be able to get on with the rest of your day quicker? Either way, it will require varying your routine, including more intense workouts (Tabata/HIIT), and ensuring your have proper nutrition and hydration to provide your body with the fuel to recover.

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+1 Wise words. Heed them Jessicah –  Joze Oct 11 '11 at 14:46
    
@Meade, I am just wondering if I increasing the intensity of my workouts, won't this then cause my recovery time to be longer? Or does the body condition itself to recover at a faster rate? –  Bee Jul 12 '12 at 11:41
    
@Bee - the body changes based on stresses placed on it, if you place the same constant stress...it adopts. So, by increasing the intensity, the recovery from a less intense workout 'should' be less. This only works to a certain degree. Since my original response I've read some approaches that could help with the direct question of reduced recovery:sportsmedicine.about.com/od/sampleworkouts/a/After-Exercise.htm –  Meade Rubenstein Jul 12 '12 at 12:01
    
@MeadeRubenstein, thanks for that - how about in regards to overtraining. Can increasing the intensity too much lead to overtraining if adequate rest/nutrition is not included? –  Bee Jul 12 '12 at 12:06
    
@Bee - of course, but from what I've seen/read, unless you're a high end athlete, pushing the intensity beyond all reasonable levels...you won't have overtraining issues. Health is a long term/marathon event, plan it, pace it and you'll be fine. Make sure you know where you're going –  Meade Rubenstein Jul 12 '12 at 12:34
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