Red Light, Green Light Workout: Using Active Recoveries

by tinareale on February 18, 2013

That time of the week again! Monday. To make that reminder a little less bitter, I have a fun new workout to share with you all today.

move it monday

This workout couples two exercises together – one exercise as the “green light” and one exercise as the “red light”. Each “green light” exercise in the workout represents an active working strength set. You should push the muscle group you’re working by shooting for fatigue with each set. Then, you hit red and stop. But oh you don’t completely stop. You have a “red light” exercise with either some cardio or core to do as active recovery. The active recovery will keep your body working and your heart rate up while also allowing the muscle being worked in that set to rest. This workout is non-stop and a great challenge.

Ready? Set? GO!!!!


As mentioned above, you will pair exercises together – green and red. So the pairs are like this:

Workout Details: The first exercise (the “green light”) is your working strength set. In order to better hit fatigue make sure to choose a heavy enough weight that leaves the final 2-3 reps challenging. If you don’t end fatigued, hold at peak contraction with small, controlled partial reps or pulses until fatigue. You could also do drop sets, where you do heavier weights for 6-10 reps and then drop to a lighter weight and continue until failure. The active recovery (“red light”) exercise consists of a cardio or core move done for time.

I would suggest doing each green and red pair (in order) by itself, but it is possible to do the workout as a circuit, if preferred. Also, feel free to sub out exercises you don’t like with a similar one. Don’t like chest presses? Do push-ups, for example. Feel free to let me know of any questions in the comments and be sure to let me know if you give the workout a try!

Happy Training!

Do you ever use active recovery during your workouts? How?


1 Katie H. February 18, 2013 at 8:37 am

Wow, awesome! BTW, I am SO ready for the next session of BBB. (If you remember, I was signed up for this round until I decided with marathon training it would just be too much!) I have been reading along as many other bloggers complete this round, and seeing the awesome workouts and posts you blog about have made me that much MORE excited!

2 tinareale February 19, 2013 at 6:53 am

And I’ll be excited to have you back, of course! :)

3 Linz @ Itz Linz February 18, 2013 at 8:52 am

this workout looks really interesting – i like the concept of active recovery – i think i need to give this a try!

4 Jana @ Happy Wife Healthy Life February 18, 2013 at 9:10 am

Wow! So creative Tina and looks tough! I have never seen a workout like this before! Thanks for the new idea! :)

5 tinareale February 19, 2013 at 6:53 am

Let me know if you give it a try. :)

6 Laura @ Mommy Run Fast February 18, 2013 at 9:15 am

I love your creativity. I need to keep mixing it up to stay interested in my strength routine. Thanks for this!

7 Tiff @ Love Sweat and Beers February 18, 2013 at 9:16 am

Clever workout! Looks like a good way to mix it up.

8 Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table February 18, 2013 at 9:32 am

Great workout! I always use active recovery in my workouts. My heart rate drops really quickly so I need to keep bouncing around to keep pumping. I use all of these, plus butt kicks, mountain climbers (on glute day), and Heismans.

9 tinareale February 19, 2013 at 6:54 am

Those are all favorite options of mine too!

10 Heather @ Better With Veggies February 18, 2013 at 10:40 am

This looks like so much fun!

11 Kim February 18, 2013 at 11:46 am

Already through with my work-out today but I pinned this so I can try it soon – looks great!!!

12 Megan February 18, 2013 at 12:14 pm

I love that you themed this workout after a nostalgic childhood game! You are so creative and I love that!

13 Katie @ Peace Love & Oats February 18, 2013 at 1:28 pm

I love this workout – and what a cute concept with the red light/green light idea! I’ve been doing Jillian Michaels videos and the incorporates a similar idea by switching back and forth between strength and cardio moves.

14 [email protected] Palate February 18, 2013 at 2:06 pm

Great workout! Is the idea just to complete it once or three times over? What sort of time should it take to complete once?

15 tinareale February 19, 2013 at 6:55 am

I would say you could do either. You could complete each pair one time and go all the way through as a circuit. That would take probably 10-15 minutes. Or you could do 2 to 3 sets per pair of exercises (which would be anywhere from a 20-40 min workout). Hope that helps!

16 [email protected] Palate February 19, 2013 at 12:43 pm

Thanks Tina!

17 Christine @ Love, Life, Surf February 18, 2013 at 2:44 pm

This looks like a great workout Tina. I love the idea of active recovery but probably don’t incorporate it into my workouts as often as I should. Love the red light/green light idea – my boys love playing that game :-)

18 [email protected] February 18, 2013 at 2:49 pm

This looks so fun! I love active recovery work too :)

19 Madeline @ Food Fitness and Family February 18, 2013 at 3:29 pm

AWESOME workout! Totally pinned for later :)

20 Lindsay @ The Lean Green Bean February 18, 2013 at 7:07 pm

awesome workout! pinned!

21 Bek @ Crave February 18, 2013 at 11:26 pm

Love this concept of a red and green light!

22 [email protected] February 19, 2013 at 4:36 am

This looks great..thanks!!
I use active recoveries a lot when I teach my group classes.. a class called cardio sculpt ( i might borrow some of your ideas for my classes!!! thanks) and also use them during my spin classes as an option for those that want more of a challenge or have different goals. Fun stuff..thanks Tina!

23 tinareale February 19, 2013 at 6:57 am

I still think about how I would love to take one of your classes. And, funny story, I needed a demo of a YTI exercise for someone in the boot camp and found a video of yours to share as a good demo. Haha!

24 Health and Fitness May 7, 2013 at 1:39 am

Interesting work out. Well Colors do have impact .I agree

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