Most people worry too much about under-recovering and not enough about under-training. Spartans, of course, are often exception to the rule.
Once you have everything you need to train properly and you’re actively working out for over five hours a week, you should be putting some thought into active recovery. That means stretching, foam rolling, maintaining fluid and electrolyte balance, and even having the occasional active recovery day.
Here are our five best workout recovery gear essentials Spartan athletes should add to their arsenal of fitness props to maximize recovery both during and between workouts and races.
Best Workout Recovery Gear for Your Home-Gym Rehab Regimen
1. Spartan RAMroller
I’ve mentioned the Spartan RAMroller before—it’s one of the more innovative items in the Spartan store, and in my opinion, a must-have in every home gym.
In short, the Spartan RAMroller is a foam roller that doubles as a weight. The RAMroller can be used for foam rolling, but also works like a sort of very short, very thick barbell that has to be gripped along the rims on either side.
That means that on one hand, it allows you to perform variants of barbell exercises—such as rows, squats and floor presses—with an altered grip that places a lot more emphasis on grip strength, and your fingers in particular. It also takes up far less space than a barbell, and is easier to place if you don’t have a bench or squat rack.
At the same time, the heavier construction makes it far more durable (albeit less portable) than a typical foam roller.
It’s an ideal foam roller to loosen up tense muscles before a workout, sore muscles after a workout, or both in between workouts. Used between workouts, it offers a convenient and creative way to do both of those things while boosting blood flow to your muscles, aiding in active recovery.
2. Spartan Exercise Mat
This is basically a yoga mat 2.0. Made from a mix of rubber and polyurethane, the Spartan Exercise Mat is many times more durable than the typical yoga mat you’ll see in stores.
The combination of materials and texturing makes it far more slip-resistant—this mat hardly moves beneath you, even when doing fast-paced exercises like bicycle crunches.
It’s also moisture-absorbing so it won’t get slick with sweat over the course of a long workout. This does mean you’ll need to wipe it clean and hang it to dry after a sweaty workout, though. While it does require some care, it's far better, in my opinion, than having a crappy workout on a slippery mat, only to have to replace it after three months.
For recovery purposes, the exercise mat is mostly going to be used for stretching at the end of, or between, workouts. You can also throw in light calisthenics.
3. Spartan Strength Band
This resistance band is a long 41-inch thin loop of high-durability elastic. That’s different from the short, thick loop bands designed to fit snugly around your legs, as well as the “tube” bands that act somewhat like dumbbells.
Spartan Strength Bands can be used in two different ways.
First, they can be used for stretching. You can lay down, hook your foot into the band straighten your leg out, and move it around while pulling on the other end of the band for a good hamstring/glute stretch. You can loop it through an ankle extended behind you, run the band up over your shoulder and pull it forward for a quad stretch. You can even loop it over a pull-up bar, hold it with arms extended behind your head and walk forward for an arm and shoulder stretch.
An advantage to using bands for stretching like this? They add more resistance as they stretch further, and you reach a natural balancing point where you won’t stretch much past your “stretch tolerance”—the point where it starts to hurt and you want to resist.
The other thing they’re good for is assisting other exercises, particularly chin-ups and pull-ups. That makes them useful for doing a few lighter, assisted chin-ups on your off day as a form of active recovery.
4. Mobot Foam Roller Water Bottle
Another clever design, the Spartan Mobot Foam Roller Water Bottle is a hydration system that doubles as a miniature foam roller.
The bottle is eleven inches long and three inches in diameter, holding 27 ounces of liquid. For most people, that’s enough to last them through one or two hours of intense physical activity.
It's made of steel, covered in foam, and that foam has a pronounced ridged texture, so it serves as a more textured “rumble roller” versus a smooth foam roller like the RAMroller. The small size makes it ideal for rolling smaller trigger points in your arms and legs, rather than your entire back.
During races in particular, Spartan athletes like to use this to loosen up any muscles which start to ache, cramp, or tense up. It’s equally useful on hikes or during recreational sporting events for that same purpose.
PRO HINT: Prevent cramps by filling it with an electrolyte-rich drink.
5. Spartan Hydration Tablets
During long workouts and even longer Spartan obstacles races, electrolyte depletion is a real danger. Running low on electrolytes, and potassium in particular, can lead to painful cramps that force you to take a long break to rest and rehydrate—if not sit out altogether.
Avoid this awful fatigue wall by drinking electrolyte-enriched fluids throughout your event.
Spartan Hydration Tablets contain a carefully-formulated mix of potassium, chloride, sodium, phosphorous, and magnesium. They’re designed to be absorbed into the bloodstream over a period of four to six hours, so you should start drinking them shortly before an event begins.
They’re unflavored, so they can easily be mixed with water or your sports beverage of choice. For workouts, one tablet should be enough. For a Spartan race, I recommend keeping 2-4 packets in your pockets for refilling your water bottle at each aid station.
Being an athlete means training hard—but it also means treating recovery as an active, not a passive process. Be smart about taking care of your body, and you’ll be performing at peak levels for many years to come.