How to Use Rest Days and Active Recovery Days

We’re really big on recovery at ISN; your workouts should support your life’s passions, not necessarily be your life’s passion. Now, if you’re someone who really loves working out, and it is your hobby that is great. For most of our community, working out is about living your highest quality of life. Having the energy to be super mom for your kids, spend time outside in your yard or garden, and exploring new places and experiences with your family. In order to be able to do any of this, you have to actually be recovering from your workouts – not feeling beat down and exhausted by going as hard as you can day in and day out. Or, even worse, getting hurt from too much activity with too little rest. Recovery matters, so you need to know how to use rest days and active recovery days in your training to ensure you’re making progress and keeping your energy levels up for all life has to offer.

How are Rest Days and Active Recovery Days different?

The only difference between a rest day and an active recovery day is the amount of focus you’re putting into your movement. We want to be clear a recovery day doesn’t mean you just sitting on your couch. In fact, being completely sedentary on your rest day will leave you feeling worse the day after than doing something relaxing like going for a walk, casual bike ride, or even spending some time in a pool. An active recovery day, in contrast, has a specific set of work meant to address mobility restrictions or general soreness.

Rest Day Ideas:

This is really straight forward. A rest day means allowing yourself the space to unwind both mentally and physically. Don’t give yourself a goal for your rest day. Just let whatever happens, happen. Take a walk to your local coffee shop. Go to a park and just spend time in nature. Give yourself the opportunity to unwind and recharge your batteries.

Active Recovery Day Ideas:

Active recovery is more structured than a rest day, and is impacted by your current fitness level. For example, if you’re an experienced triathlon athlete, or you compete in a sport, you are able to handle more work on an active recovery day than someone who is just getting back into fitness.

For the more experienced athlete, the following workout ideas can function as active recovery:

  • 30 minute EMOM consisting of 1:00 easy jog, 1:00 easy bike, and 1:00 easy row
  • 20 minute AMRAP of 100 ft. moderate weight farmer’s carry, 500m easy row, and box step ups.
  • 10 rounds of 200m easy run, 50 single unders, and 5 burpees

For those of you with less intense fitness goals and experience, going for a thirty minute bike ride during which you are able to hold a conversation would be a perfect way to incorporate active recovery into your workout program.

Why take recovery days?

As we’ve talked about before, you cannot just constantly beat your body down and expect it to perform each and every day. Recovery days, as well as a diet composed of the right things, will help you continually see improvement from all your hard work. Plus, life happens outside of the gym. Don’t be a slave to showing up at your favorite studio each and every day. Get out, get some sun, and put all that fitness to use.