What is Active Recovery?
Active recovery is a form of low-intensity exercise. An active recovery workout often follows a very intense training session. You can use active recovery sessions during a high-intensity interval workout, at the end of a workout, or on a rest day.
During a high-intensity interval workout, there are multiple rest periods, bouts of low-intensity exercise in between sets. They help bring the heart rate down while still performing activity. This is a form of active recovery training.
We know how important a post-workout cool down is in bringing the heart rate down. Clients are still performing physical activity, only at a much lower intensity than the workout itself. This helps regulate body temperature and blood pressure and helps decrease muscle tension.
The most popular form of active recovery is physical activity performed on an entire off day from training. When designing a fitness program for clients, you must implement active recovery training on their rest days. Dedicate only one day of the week to passive or complete rest.
For most clients, this could be after a heavy weight training or interval training workout. For high-level athletes, intense exercise could be after a tournament or competition.
Benefits of Active Recovery
Depending on the client and how their body responds to a workout, most clients experience fatigue following an intense workout. Their muscles may feel tight and sore. Muscle and connective tissue are mainly affected by delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Clients experience DOMS at least a day or two after a workout.
As a personal trainer, you want to avoid training a client so hard that they are immobile the next day. Figuring out how your client responds to the workout load you prescribe is crucial to knowing what type of recovery they need most. The truth is, some clients suffer more than others.
Keeping clients active through a recovery process helps the body maintain blood flow. Adequate blood flow promotes the removal of toxins and dead cells that are present post-workout. Having your client engage in some form of physical activity instead of resting all day can help promote this process.
Active recovery day can also help clients stick to their meal plans. Clients tend to negate the importance of nutrition on off days—they equate a day off from a workout to a day off from their meal plan. By scheduling active recovery on their rest day, you’re helping them stay in the mindset of actively working toward their fitness goals.
If they feel like they did some activity they will continue focusing on preparing better food choices. This keeps them on the healthy lifestyle that you have helped them build. Nutrition is just as important, if not more so, on days off from regular training.