What is Active Rest?
Not all rest are the same:
- Passive Rest: Lie on a comfortable couch and watch Netflix – might seem appealing but it is not the most productive for your fitness routine.
- Active Rest: Involves performing light exercises (E.g. swimming, stretching or foam rolling) that stimulate the recovery process without imposing undue stress on the injured body part.
Why do we need Active Rest?
To fully understand that, first we must understand how skeletal muscle grows – in order to have movement from a muscle, the fibers in the muscle must contract. This is due to motor neurons (a pathway in which nerve impulses pass from the brain or spinal cord to the muscle), and is driven by your central nervous system (CNS). The stronger these pathways are developed, the more contraction through the muscle i.e the greater performance from a muscle(s).
- Active rest prevents injury
If you don’t include active rest into your training schedule, you are breaking down muscle tissue faster than it can repair itself, which leads to a higher chance of soft tissue injury.
- Active rest speed up recovery
Low-intensity workouts help your muscle heals. Increased blood flow from these workouts deliver oxygen and amino acids to repair muscles and relieve pain and soreness.
- Active rest lower stress
Active rest exercise such as yoga and stretching often require slow motions and focus on breathing, which helps to reduce stress level.
How do you know it’s time for an active rest day
1. Am I sore? – Pain is a great indicator that your body may not be ready to carry out certain exercise. Any soreness lasting more than 48 hours is your body’s way of saying it’s time for a break.
2. Is my workout performance going down? – That’s a clear sign you need an active rest.
3. How am I feeling? – If you score 5 or less out of a 1-10scale, it’s time to rest.
Here is an example of how your weekly training might look like with Active Rest days.
HIIT (lower-body workouts) / Leg day in the gym / Long run
Tuesday Active Rest
Yoga / Stretching on legs
HIIT (Target upper-body)/ Arm and chest training in the gym
Gives arms a break with a cycling session/ Swimming/ Back and Abs training in the gym
Friday Active Rest
Stretching or Foam rolling
HIIT (Target core)/Cardio
You don’t have to be on the move every single day. If you are feeling tired, even on your active rest day, listen to your body and take a day or two off.
Feeling sore and lacking motivation? Take an active rest day today and notice the difference in your body when you get back to your workout routine. Rest is necessary in your training plan and will eventually move you closer to your goals. Let’s rest up!