How to use the Fat Loss 4 protocol as your Active Recovery/ Deload Week

If you missed my Fat Loss 4 Workout Protocol article, which was recently published on, go here to read it now as today’s post will make more sense to you once you’ve learned the basic concept of my FL4 workout protocol formula.



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Using the FL4 Protocol as Active Recovery and/or as your Deload workout


It’s no secret that quality recovery is just as important as quality training. We’ve found that taking an active recovery/ deload week every 3-6 weeks between hard training blocks can really help you prevent overtraining, limits training related injuries and help you perform at high levels without physical or mental burnout.


Here at Performance U, we use a combination of two recovery methods between training blocks:

– Transition weeks

– Active Recovery weeks


In a soon to come post – I’ll cover the concepts and techniques involved in the “transition week” protion of our active recovery/ delaod workouts. In today’s post I’m covering the active recovery concept we use most often, which is a much lighter and less intense version of the Performance U- FL4 protocol. We call it “The Active Recovery 4 (AR4) Protocol.”


Here’s the general formula for the AR4 we use to keep our clients moving and still maintain their current fitness levels while still allowing them to recover and regenerate back to peak performance levels needed to meet the next phase of training with a full head of steam:


Perform the following exercises as a circuit at a normal/ comfortable pace at a medium/low intensity with deliberate control:


#1 – A Shoulder and/or Thoracic spine mobility drill x45 seconds

15 seconds transition time

#2 – A Lower body (Hip and/or ankle) mobility drill x45 seconds

15 seconds transition time

#3 – A (low intensity) Total-body exercise x45 seconds

15 seconds transition time

#4 – Cardio Drill at around 60% of your MHr. (like you’re cruising through the park) x1min


Rest for 1min (for a total a 5mins) and repeat the same sequence or choose a diifernt sequence of drills.


We like to do about 30-40min of AR4 circuits, which is 6-8 total rounds. We mix up the drills every 2-3 rounds to keep our AR4 workouts more varied and more comprehensive.



The Drills to use in a AR4 Protocol Circuit


When using the Active Recovery 4 (AR4) protocol circuit, you can really use exercise/drills you want as long as it fits within the general formula I’ve described above. That’s the beauty of the AR4 protocol concept – It’s simple, it allows for variety and it’s 100% plug and play!



Here’s a sample AR4 circuit that’s one of my favorites to use with almost all of my client and athletes:


Station #1 – For Thoracic/ shoulder mobility, we like to use this drill:


Or this drill:




Station #2 – For Hip and Ankle Mobility, we like to use the Performance U Yoga-Plex



Station #3 – We like to work with medicine balls. We’ll perform any one of the throwing drills shown below at a much slower, more play-like pace then whats shown in the video.



We like to use these Medicine ball throwing drills because they’re fun, they’re very natural feeling, they use your entire body and we’ve never found these exercises to create soreness or much fatigue when doing them at a low intensity/ pace.

In situations where we’re unable to throw medicine balls, we’ll use these medicine ball chops variations, which I’ve yet to do a video of my own for. So, I’m using this video from some one else for now:




Station #4 – For the cardio drill, we like to use the Airdyne bike because it’s zero impact, which is easy on the joints.




If we don’t have access to an Airdyne Bike, we’ll use Shadow Boxing if training in a smaller space or we’ll use a light jog for larger spaces, or for outdoor training situations.




Note: If we are using Jogging, we’ll encourage our clients to open their strides to avoid plodding. This is not only easier on the knees, it keeps them using the hips mobility they’ve got in a functional locomotive pattern.



Additional AR4 Coaching tips:

– It’s okay if you’d like to change the order of the first 3 stations. But, we found it best to still keep the cardio drill for last as station #4.


– All of your AR4 circuits should feel like a long warm up. If you’re getting winded and/or feeling fatigued in a specific part of your body from a given exercise within an AR4 circuit, you’re working to hard for the goal. Remember: this ACTIVE RECOVERY, not a workout!


– When throwing the medicine balls, stay loose and go for economy of effort on each throw. Also, don’t catch the ball until it’s bounced at least once to minimize eccentric impact/load on your body. We like to use a Medicine ball that’s no heavier then 8lbs for our biggest/ strongest athletes when doing AR4 circuits. Most people use a 4-6lbs Med ball.



Final thoughts

Don’t forget that aside from toning down your workouts to optimally recover, you also need good sleep, good nutrition, mental and physical relaxation – And, getting a massage or foam rolling can’t hurt either!







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