Active recovery: this is how rest days get results
When you’re charging towards a fitness goal, ‘rest’ can seem like a dirty word: ‘Rest? Who has time for rest? This goal isn’t going to reach itself!’
But in reality, a rest day is just as important a part of making progress and getting results as regular workouts are. And remember, rest doesn’t have to mean coming to a complete standstill. A rest day for you could mean doing yoga instead of lifting weights, stretching and using a foam roller after a big day of HIIT, going for a walk, or doing a few laps of the pool to work out some of that lactic acid.
This is active recovery – and the FIT crew are big fans. When your body is telling you that it doesn’t want to work out today, but you still feel like you have some energy for movement, a slower-paced and lower intensity active recovery session can give you the best of both worlds: your journey towards your fitness goals doesn’t come to a grinding halt, while your body still gets a chance to rest, repair and recover.
Here are 5 reasons you should add an active recovery day to your workout week.
1. Maintain your fitness momentum
Active recovery keeps you in the swing of things and maintains your motivation to move. If you’ve ever taken a couple of days off your workouts… which turned into a couple of months off, you’ll know exactly why maintaining momentum is key to getting results. By moving at a slower pace during recovery, you’ll get a mental break from full-tilt exercise and your body will feel ready to kick it up a notch when you get back into it.
2. Reduce muscle soreness
Just like a cool-down is essential after a workout, active recovery keeps your body humming along nicely by promoting blood flow to your muscles and joints, counteracting inflammation, stiffness and discomfort, and speeds up muscle recovery by re-oxygenating your muscles.
3. Pump like a pro
Emily Skye FIT workouts get your heart pumping and increase your cardiovascular fitness, and this process continues during active recovery. The more you move your body – even at a lower intensity – the more efficient your heart gets at pumping blood and oxygen, which in turn lowers your resting heart rate for a healthier heart.
4. More time for technique
Because active recovery sessions are slower paced and you’re not focused on maxing your reps or getting your sweat on, it allows you to focus on technique and tighten up your form in areas that you might be struggling to nail or need to practice. And this will help you get better results when you pick up the pace in your next workout session.
5. Keep your fire burning
Even when it’s lower intensity, movement burns calories. So if your goal is to lose fat, any calories you burn up during active recovery sessions will keep you on track to that goal. That sounds like a win-win to me!
6. Because if you don’t, you’ll regret it!
We all want to achieve our goals faster. But by overdoing it, you could actually be setting BACK your timetable for success! The tiny little tears you make in your muscles every time we work out – which repair and grow your muscles when allowed time to rest and recover – can become big injuries that stop you in your tracks. Overtraining can also lead to stress (which can disrupt sleep and weaken your immune system), weight fluctuations, menstrual irregularities, persistent pain or injury worries, as well as flatlining your motivation and energy.
So what’s the answer? Slow it down at least once a week and give your mind and body a break. Nutrition is a key factor in your recovery, too, so make sure you’re eating well, taking in enough protein and energy, and don’t forget to hydrate.
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