You might be thinking that the more you exercise, the quicker you’ll get the beach bod you’ve been working on. While there’s a bit of truth in that, frequent high-intensity workouts can stress out your body and lead to over fatigue and injuries.
If you’re serious about trying to get lean or bulking up by cranking up the reps and weights in your workout, then letting your muscles recover for a day or two could provide benefits for your overall health and fitness. However, if you’re just being passive during the recovery phase, you might not be getting the best possible results.
Active recovery (which should not be mistaken for sitting on the couch), is an effective way to let your muscles repair themselves and avoid stiffness. It can be a series of stretching poses, body weight movements, or light intensity exercises to stimulate blood flow to your muscles, increase your range of motion, and keep soreness at bay. Unlike passive recovery, active recovery keeps your body moving and maintains healthy blood flow levels to your repairing muscles, increasing muscle gain and rate of recovery.
Here are a few of our favorite exercises to get the most out of your rest days:
Ankle circles is a great movement to improve mobility and avoid injury. This is a quick and easy exercise you can even do while sitting at your desk.
Duration: 10 repetitions per leg on each direction
- Sit upright or on the floor with your right leg extended.
- Bend your left leg and rest your left ankle on your right leg.
- Start making circles with your ankles clockwise and then counter-clockwise, and repeat it on the other side.
This dynamic stretch loosens the lower back and hips to improve flexibility.
Duration: 10 repetitions on each direction
- Stand upright positioning your legs hip-width apart.
- Push your hips forward then to the right, back, left, then back to the front in a clockwise circular motion and repeat this rotation 10 times.
- Repeat the movement going the other direction (counter-clockwise).
Front to back leg swings stretch the hip flexors (inner hip muscle) and hip extensors (hamstrings and glutes), while side leg swings target the hip abductors (outer thigh) and hip adductors (inner thigh). This movement improves your range of motion and mobility when done regularly.
Duration: 10 swings per leg in each direction
Directions (Front to Back Leg Swings):
- For the front to back leg swings, stand next to a wall with your right arm resting on a wall for support.
- Remember to extend your arm at shoulder height and keep your legs directly under your hips.
- Start swinging your inner leg forward and backward, and gradually increase the height. Face the other way and do it on the opposite leg.
Directions (Side Leg Swings):
- For the side leg swings, face the wall and extend your arms at shoulder height.
- Swing your right leg to the right then swing it back past your left leg.
- Do this for 10 reps then switch to the left leg.
- Keep in mind that your legs should be straight, while the knees shouldn’t be locked.
Feeling pain from yesterday’s leg day? Believe it or not, doing light leg workouts will get the blood flowing and reduce the pain and soreness faster. Try doing variations of bodyweight squats to stretch those tight muscles.
Duration: 10 reps, 10 rounds
Directions (Regular Squats):
- For regular squats, place your feet hip-width apart with toes pointing forward.
- Hold your arms in front of you or cross them over your shoulders then lower your bottom backward.
- Keep your back straight and make sure you can still see your toes as you get into the squat position.
- Return to standing position and repeat this exercise 10 times.
Directions (Sumo Squats):
- For Sumo Squats, stand with your legs wide and toes in a 45-degree angle.
- Push your hips back and lower yourself down until your thighs are in line with your knees.
- Stand back up and repeat the movement 10 times.
Walking is a low-impact exercise that won’t overwork your body while burning extra calories. Your pace should depend on your current fitness level, so if you’re used to running marathons, you can opt for a steady walking pace or a light jog on the treadmill for your rest days.
Duration: 30-45 minutes at a steady pace
Want to get your heart rate up without taxing any of your muscles? Jumping jacks are great for breaking a sweat and getting your whole body moving without unnecessary muscle stress. This exercise works out your core and upper body while strengthening your hips and glutes.
Duration: 10 reps, 10 rounds
Directions: -Stand tall with your feet together and hands on your side.
-As you jump, extend your legs out to the side shoulder-width apart and raise your arms to the side then overhead.
-Repeat the movement 10 times to get your heart pumping.
There’s no doubt that intense workouts give you the results you need to reach your #fitspiration goals, but taking a productive break is just as important to let your muscles rest and recover. What’s essential is that you move your body to get the blood flowing to your different muscle groups.
Refuel your body and take a breather today so that you can prepare to crush your workout tomorrow with any of Gold’s Gym’s latest promotional offers to take your health and fitness to the next level. Remember that if you want to get the most out of your rest days, stop resting and start active recovering!