Active Recovery vs. Rest Day

The last thing you want on a rest day is to listen to more rules – so let’s try out this mindset and tips together. In order for you to perform at your best, you need to make sure you that you rest at your best. A rest day should never involve being overly lazy or overly ambitious, either. Just like life, balance is key. It’s easy to get into the “off” day vibe and let a healthy nutrition and body mindset go out the window. Sure, a little indulging never hurt but it doesn’t need to start the vicious cycle of getting totally off-track. 


TBC’s own Director of Training, Cody Bishop, MA CPT, says 

"Most trainees know getting rest after hard training is important, but still most feel guilty if they take a day off and push through. Unfortunately, without sufficient rest most trainees actually LOSE ground instead of getting farther ahead. Hard training breaks down muscle tissue, depelets energy stores (muscle glycogen), and causes fluid loss in the hopes of moving closer to one's goals. But gains don't take place during training, they take place afterwards during recovery. It's only with enough rest that the body adapts to the stress of exercise and the real training effect takes place - tissues become stronger, muscles store more energy, and the body becomes rehydrated."


At this point, it is critical to understand the difference between an active recovery day and a rest day. Deciding which type of day you need to incorporate into your life is dependent upon: YOU. Active recovery days are meant to still be active but nothing that puts your muscles into drive or gets that heart rate through the roof. Think your normal routine, but take it down a few (or many) notches. A rest day includes focusing lots on sleep, good food, and boost a mental / physical recharge. 




The whole goal is to make it so the next day you can feel stronger when you get back into workout mode. 


Focus on breathing 

Something that we don’t always think we need to focus on. Pay attention to your breathing patterns during active rest days. You should always be able to breathe in and out of your nose easily. If you’re unable to then you are exerting too much energy and making the cardiovascular system work harder than it should on this day. 


Foam Roll + Mobility 

That’s a given. Foam rolling and focusing on mobility promotes flexibility, loosens tight muscles, and eases up inflammation. This can also be done at home to prevent temptation in the gym to do something more once you’re already there. 


Learn to differentiate the difference between exercise and training

Exercising is going to the gym, maybe sweating, getting something done. Training is a means to an end, not an end in it of itself. Training involves planning and structure. 


Do something different 

If you’re strength-based, try doing a lighter version of something cardio-focused. If you’re a runner, try some yoga. Building up your fitness repertoire slowly but surely can payoff big time later. 


Turns out there’s no one size fits all for working out / active recovery / rest days. Listen to your body!


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