What is Active Recovery?

What is Active Recovery?

Working out regularly is a great thing for more reasons than just one. It can help you build muscle, lose weight, and be able to perform the daily activities you love. 

That being said, regular exercise doesn’t mean exercising every day. In fact, it's certainly not what I recommend either!

Most people aim to exercise 3-5 days a week. I'd say that's a good number to shoot for if your workouts are intense and include resistance.

After all, your muscles and body need time to recover. Especially if you're looking to build muscle, you need to allow your muscle tissue to rebuild.

So, what should you be doing on those 2-4 days a week when you’re not working out? Well, one option is to pursue active recovery. 

Active recovery can keep you moving without working yourself too hard. This can also have its benefits while still allowing your body to get the rest and recovery it needs.

But, what is active recovery and what does it look like? How is it different from passive recovery? In this article, I'll tell you everything you need to know and how to get started with active recovery!

What Is Active Recovery? 


An active recovery day is when you choose to do mild and strategic exercises. This is designed to keep your body and muscles active without overusing them.

In fact, this method can even help reduce prolonged muscle soreness. But, what are some of the other benefits that active recovery has to offer?

I am a firm believer in active recovery, and for good reason. The benefits of active recovery can include, but are not limited to:

• Increasing blood flow to muscles
• Removing metabolic waste and toxins
• Reducing muscle tears and pain
• Keeping muscles flexible
• Reducing soreness
• Helping maintain your exercise routine
• Burning more calories
• Improving athletic performance
• Boosting mood

Clearly, there's a lot more to active recovery than most would think! It can also be a great tool to help you along your own personal fitness journey. On top of that, you have a lot of different options to choose from when it comes to active recovery.

Now, I also mentioned passive recovery. So, what are the differences between passive and active recovery?

Passive vs. Active Recovery: The Differences

It’s not great for your muscles to exercise hard every day. That's why having a few days to recover can be essential. However, there are two different ways you can approach recovery: passive and active.

Active recovery involves engaging in low-intensity activity on your rest days.

On the other hand, passive recovery allows your body to stay completely at rest.

That's it! That's the only real difference between these two forms of recovery.

Yes, active recovery means getting up and being a little active. That doesn't mean the activity is intense! For active recovery to be beneficial, it can't be intense.

For the most part too, active recovery is recommended. But, how do you do it?

Types of Active Recovery

If you’re interested in trying out active recovery after your workout days, here are two ways you can do it:

Active Recovery to Cool Down After a Workout

An easy way to incorporate active recovery in your routine is to use it as a cool-down after exercising. This is a more immediate form of active recovery that can help buffer muscle acid and bring your heart rate down.

For example, after a tough run, instead of just stopping immediately, slow down to a jog and then to a walk.

After doing a high-intensity workout, you could do some walking or light cycling on a stationary bike.

In either scenario, doing this for 10-15 minutes can be a great way to incorporate active recovery.

Active Recovery On Rest Days

The most obvious way to add in active recovery is to do gentler exercises on your days off. This also happens to be what I personally do!

Instead of doing a big workout, you may go on a walk, stretch, or go for a bike ride. This can keep your muscles and body moving without contributing to any fatigue or muscle breakdown.

Plus, this can be a great way to increase blood flow to encourage recovery. On top of that, if your goal is to lose weight or body fat ... Active recovery on your rest days can help with burning a few more calories you wouldn't have otherwise.

 Active Recovery Day Activities

Looking for some exercises for your active recovery days? Fortunately, you have quite a few options!

Here are some great active recovery activities to get you started: 

Walking: Walking is a great activity for active recovery. Whether you do that on a treadmill or as a few miles outdoors is completely up to you. I'm a big advocate for getting outside to walk around the neighborhood.

Jogging: A low-intensity jog can be a great way to recover. Just make sure you don't push yourself or incorporate too much elevation. After all, this is for active recovery. Your jog shouldn't feel like a full workout.

Hiking: Going for a short hike is another option you have. Your active recovery days could be a great time to hit the trails. I find myself doing this often, especially when the weather is nice.

Swimming: A nice, light swim can be an excellent active recovery activity. Again, just make sure you aren't pushing yourself too much here. Sprints and long-distance swims may end up working against you.

Cycling: Leisurely cycling can keep you moving too. There's nothing quite like a scenic bike ride on your days off from traditional training.

Yoga: Yoga is a great way to recover. It can also help enhance your flexibility which can have it's own list of benefits.

Maximize Active Recovery with 1st Phorm

Active recovery can be a great addition to your workout routine. I'm a big believer in doing something every day to stay active too.

However, rest is important. If you're looking to build and repair muscle and perform your best, it's a must. Even still, active recovery can be beneficial regardless of what your fitness goals are.

I think we can all agree on one thing: We all want to look good, feel good, and stay healthy. I'd call your bluff if you said otherwise!

Now, I know that reaching these goals is no easy task. It's simple, but not easy.

Where most people can get stuck is having access to the resources they need to see great results. On top of that, there's a lot of misleading information on the internet. This just adds to the chaos and confusion when you're trying to earn results.

That's where we can help. In fact, we developed the 1st Phorm App for that reason: to simplify the process of earning results. The 1st Phorm App is the ultimate all-in-one tool for your health and fitness.

For all things nutrition, exercise, and education ... the 1st Phorm App has you covered. Inside the app, you'll get access to:

• 1-on-1 messaging and assistance from your own certified advisor
• A custom nutrition plan and easy way to log your food to stay on track
• Custom workout programs geared toward your goals
• Educational live streams and step-by-step workout videos to help guide you
• Activity and step-counting software
• Progress tracking and body metrics to make sure you get the results you're after

If you're ready to start making progress toward your goals, just Download the 1st Phorm App today!

If you have any questions in the meantime, don't hesitate to reach out. We have a full team of NASM Certified Personal Trainers and Nutrition Coaches right here in St. Louis, Missouri. Just give us a call at 1-800-409-9732 or send us an email at CustomerService@1stPhorm.com any day from 6 AM to 10 PM Central.

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