5 Recovery Exercises: Post-Competition

How Do You Recover From Competition?

After a long day of lifting kettlebells at the USAKL Bolt Half-Ironman Competition, I felt it was appropriate to share some of my favorite recovery exercises. These particular drillsĀ focus on mobilizing the areas of your body that get stiff from high volume kettlebell lifting. I also incorporated some stability and activation drills for the antagonist muscles that get underutilized during traditional lifts. Although I chose these specific exercises to do after a competition, most people will find these movements beneficial for daily maintenance or general recovery. Plus, they feel so good!


Recovery Exercise 1 – Wrist Mobility:

A video posted by Kristen Karhio (@mskor) on

Make your forearms happy! Place your palms on the ground with your fingers facing your knees. The further away your hands are from your knees, the more challenging it will be. Keep your hands flat on the ground as you rock back slowly. Make sure your elbows stay straight. Slowly ease into the stretch and don’t put too much pressure on your wrists. šŸ™Œ Pro tip: You can also try moving in a circular motion. Repeat with your palms facing the ceiling.


Recovery Exercise 2 – Quadruped Thoracic Spine Rotation:

A video posted by Kristen Karhio (@mskor) on

If you have a tight upper back, this one is a must! Start in a quadruped position. Focus on maintaining a neutral lumbar spine (don’t arch your low back). Place one hand lightly behind your ear without pulling on your head. Rotate through your thoracic spine. Move your elbow down towards your opposite elbow and then open towards the ceiling. Make sure to keep your straight arm straight. Exhale at the top position. I typically do 1-2 sets of 10 on each side.


Recovery Exercise 3 – Stick Figure 8’s:

(Warning: Volume is high on this video. Don’t get in trouble at work.)

A video posted by Kristen Karhio (@mskor) on

This side bend patten often gets neglected in our training. Thank you Agatsu for always keeping our frontal plane in mind! Make sure your arms, wrists and knees straight through the entire movement. Create some stability in your shoulders by pulling the stick apart in opposite directions. Slowly push your hip out to one side – pause, rotate down to the front – pause. Try not to push your hips behind you when you drop forward (I need to work on this a bit). Squeeze your butt on the way up. Now reverse it. This should be done at a nice slow pace (My video was sped up). Focus on the areas that need it the most and don’t forget to breath. A couple times in each direction should do the trick.


Recovery Exercise 4 – Single Leg Hip Lift & Whip:

A video posted by Kristen Karhio (@mskor) on

Get some glute activation, core stability and hip mobility all in one! I borrowed this gem from Dean Somerset years ago. Keep one foot firmly connected to the ground. Lift your hips by contracting your glutes and abs. Form a straight line from your stationary knee, through your hip, to your shoulder. Slowly rotate the top leg out to the side with control. Resist rotating your torso and keep the rest of your body in place while your leg moves. Start with 2-3 sets of 5 reps on each leg.


Recovery Exercise 5 – Low Kneeling Plank Reach:

A video posted by Kristen Karhio (@mskor) on

Feel this one deep in the abs. Another Dean Somerset special, because he knows his sh*t. Prop yourself up with your elbows under your shoulders and your hips on the ground. Tighten up your shoulders and keep your knees on the ground. Slowly contract your abs until you have a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Try to reach one hand toward the wall in front of you without moving the rest of your body. Don’t let your hips rotate. To make it easier, keep your knees wider. Do 2-3 sets of 10 alternating sides.


There you have it – 5 recovery exercises that are great for athletes and desk jockeys alike. If you’re feeling sore and tired from competition or life in general, these are some excellent drills to have in your tool box. You can do them as part of a recovery day or incorporate them into a warm up, cool down or lunch break. Either way, try them out and let me know how it goes. Thanks for watching!

If you have any questions, please send me a message at kristen@mykorstrength.com.

Post Author
Kristen Karhio
Kristen is a former heptathlete turned kettlebell sport athlete, Certified Strength Coach (CSCS), entrepreneur and co-founder of KOR Strength in San Diego.

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