Let's Talk About Active Recovery

Updated: Feb 25, 2021

We love rest days as much as the next fitness company; but instead of binge-watching Bridgerton non-stop on your days off. it's important to engage in some form of active recovery. The same can be said for those who are working out nearly every day--you have to give your body the chance to recover from strenuous exercise.

What Is Active Recovery?

Active recovery is the practice of following a high-intensity workout with low-intensity exercise. Active recovery is the opposite of passive recovery, the practice of staying completely at rest after a high- intensity workout.

Passive recovery is essential for those who are in pain or injured. It's also important to allow yourself to have complete passive recovery days every now and then.

In the long run, committing to more active than passive recovery will have a greater impact on you as you work to achieve your fitness goals. Benefits of active recovery include the decrease of lactic acid build up in your muscles, eliminating toxins, keeping muscles flexible, reducing soreness, increasing blood flow, and helping you maintain your exercise routine.

There are three ways to implement active recovery in your fitness routine: as a cool down following a workout, during interval/circuit training, and on rest days.

As a Cool Down:

We know how tempting it can be to finish a tough workout and immediately congratulate yourself by grabbing a snack and plopping down on the couch. However, taking a few minutes after your main workout to let your body ease back to neutral will keep you from experiencing overwhelming soreness.

If you train or take a class with Samantha, you'll notice that she builds a cool down into the end of each session. When youre working on your own, you should do the same. If you're running, the last 10 minutes of your route should be dedicated to reducing speed to a jog and then a walk. Or after HIIT, you can jump on the treadmill or stationary bike for a few minutes. Stretching post-workout is also a great way to avoid DOMS.

During Interval/Circuit Training:

Instead of staying still between each set during HIIT, you can keep moving to keep your muscles loose. A study by the American Council on Exercise found that athletes who ran or cycled until the point of fatigue recovered faster while continuing at 50% of their maximum effort versus stopping completely.

While you wait for your next round to start, you can jog in place, do jumping jacks, or stretch.

Rest Days as Active Recovery Days:

Instead of taking a full day off of exercise, you can take an active recovery day to do something totally different from what you normally do in the gym. Moving for even ten minutes on your rest days can significantly help your muscles recover.

Ideas for Active Recovery:

  • Yoga (we love Alo Yoga on Youtube!)

  • Walking

  • Hiking

  • Swimming

  • Tai Chi

  • Foam Rolling and Stretching

  • Rowing on a Machine

  • Light Resistance Training

  • Hip and Core Activation Exercises

  • Roller Blading

  • Ice Skating

  • Cycling

  • Riding a Bike

If you're exercising more than five days a week, consider swapping out at least one of your heavy work days for an active recovery day. If you're working out three to four days a week, consider adding in one or two active recovery days to your routine.

What are your favorite ways of doing active recovery? Let us know in the comments!

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