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The Best Rest Day Recovery Workouts

Rest days can be tough, either you’re too achy to do anything or you feel so good from the day before that you want to train again.
Neither of these are good options, but there is a solution.
Active recovery gives you an outlet for extra energy on rest days without impacting performance for the next day and can even help reduce your achiness.

What is Active Recovery?

Unlike passive recovery where you stay at rest the whole day, not doing any activity outside of your normal daily routine, active recovery is light exercise performed on rest days.
When done properly it can help you recover faster after a tough workout, improve mobility and flexibility and give you an outlet on the days you’re not hitting the gym.
Passive recovery is great for when you’re injured or exhausted, but if you’re neither of these things then active recovery is the way forward.

How It Works

Active recovery should be different from your workout days.
You should aim to keep it quite light and easy, the purpose is to aid recovery and well-being, not to get another workout in.
Good active recovery workouts include:

1: Yoga

Yoga and/or stretching is one of the best active recovery exercises for rest days.
Doing a mix of both dynamic (with movement) and static (held in place) stretches can decrease soreness whilst improving range of motion and flexibility. This means rest days are the perfect time to focus on your achy or trouble areas.
Grab some headphones and listen to a podcast or some relaxing music and use this time to recharge and recovery ready for your next workout.

2: Foam rolling

Also sometimes referred to as self-myofascial release, foam rolling is a fantastic tool for reducing muscle tightness and inflammation whilst also improving your range of motion.
Which means whilst it can be a bit painful when you’re doing it, it will do wonders for your recovery. It works by allowing you to target the connective tissues between your muscles and ligaments called fascia.
When these fascia become tight they cause your muscles to tighten up too, by breaking up these knots with a foam roller you get instant relief, can speed up recovery, increase mobility and ease soreness.

3: Light Cardio

A great option for rest days is simply taking a walk.
Not only is low impact but it’s free and accessible for everyone, which means even a short 15-minute walk can help promote circulation in the body and reduce any stiffness you might be feeling.
If you’re suffering from achy muscles the day after a workout walking is a great idea.
If you don’t want to leave the house (this is an ‘at home’ article) then you could try jogging on the spot or walking up and down the stairs. However, if you’re going out then cycling, walking or swimming are all great options.

4: Meditation

Rest days are not just about the physical, but the mental too.
It’s not uncommon to feel mentally and physically drained after a tough workout, especially if you’re busy at work and/or at home too. Taking some ‘me time’ and looking after yourself on your rest day is always a great idea.
Even 5 minutes of mediation in the morning or evening on your rest days can help you feel calmer, more relaxed and refreshed. This means you can get back to your routine with a renewed sense of focus instead of feeling burnt out.

5: Meal Prep

Ok, so this isn’t really an activity but if you’re looking to stay on track with your health and fitness goals then setting aside time to prep your meals is a great way of doing this.
Besides, what better time to do it than a rest day where you’ve got a little extra time as you’re not hitting the gym?
This will not only help you achieve your fitness goals but once you’ve prepped everything, you’ll feel fantastic for getting it done.

Summing Up

Rest days don’t have to be boring or another hurdle keeping you from getting back into the gym. Instead, you can use this time to improve your well-being and performance.
By doing activities like yoga, foam rolling, light cardio you can ease achy muscles, increase flexibility and mobility, reduce stress and improve performance.
This means you can get back in the gym feeling recharged and refreshed, ready to crush your next workout.

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