The chances are that if you were at school and doing sport; after the race when you are bent over & your breathe was heaving, do you remember the coach telling you to stand up straight and even to put your hands over your head. These ideas were created to allow the diaphragm to be in the best position to allow quickest recovery.
Now suppose I told you that this is wrong. Not only is it wrong but doing a HIIT cardio protocol you can lower the heart beat by over 20 beats per minute (BPM) MORE simply by putting your hands on your knees and bending forward slightly. Would that be worth your time learning?
This is the findings in a post-graduate thesis where they measured the recovery rates between standing upright, with hands over head & holding yourself in that well known bent over recovery position with your hands on your knees.
First let us address the issues stated by your old coach. “Standing upright with hands over head opens the diaphragm to the maximum.” Says your coach. “You aren’t compressing your lungs that way.”. That is the common reasoning, but it appears that this actually incorrect. You are not compressing your lungs by bending over as you are hip hinging in this position. Bending forwards like this could actually increase your lung capacity slightly. Also by using the arms as support for the upper body you lower the activity of the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) & heighten the influence of the parasympathetic nervous system (rest & digest), this also aids recovery.
In this study they saw over 20BPM improvement in 3 minutes. After 3 minutes you either had drop of 31BPM standing upright with hands overhead or 53BPM by hip hinging forward with hands on your knees. That difference is a very significant difference if you are doing intervals or recovering between bouts of exertion.
So, to sum things up. If you need to maximise recovery between sets or during a contest use the bent over, hands on knee posture & be ready to go again as soon as possible.
You can read the full thesis at http://cedar.wwu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1329&context=wwuet
Even if you are not concerned about the speed of recovery; consider that the faster your heart rate returns to normal, the faster can begin to repair & the super-compensation the body needs to improve. So, whatever your goals learning these methods to maximise recovery will benefit you and optimise the results of any training you do.
Special thanks to Dave of Vegan Runners for the pictures of him after a race and Jemma for taking the pictures. If you are interested in getting involved in Vegan Runners email and I can pass you on the details.