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The Difference Between Active Recovery and Rest Days

active recoveryWe have all had those days where we wake up and wonder how we are going to power through the next workout. You might have a heavy lifting day on tap, or a hard tempo run that you are supposed to get through, but your body feels heavy and tired—really the opposite of how you want to feel before a workout.

So what do you do? You have three options:

  1. Try to power through your scheduled workout.
  2. Change your plan to an active recovery day.
  3. Make it a rest day.

What do you choose? And how do you know what is the best decision? Here are a few suggestions to help you understand what your body might be saying to you on those workout days where you just feel a bit deflated.

Active Recovery

Active recovery is when you perform low-intensity exercises to increase the blood flow in the body, while also reducing the enzymes that can cause muscle damage and fatigue. Muscle activation is the key facilitator for all stages of the recovery process, which is why active recovery is such an effective technique. Types of activities that can help the body recover better include light swimming, cycling, jogging, or spending time hooked up to the Marc Pro or Marc Pro Plus.

Rest Days

Rest is defined as the time that is spent not working out, training, or exercising. For example, the time that you spend sleeping or napping would classify as classic “rest” time.

Which Should I Choose?

On a day when you are feeling overly sore and working out doesn’t seem like your number one choice, rest for the day can be a good option. The most important thing to take in account is how you are feeling. If you feel like exercising is the last task that you want to do, then a rest day might be the perfect solution. Take the day to go to the movies, take a nap, and hang out with friends.

If you are feeling a bit sore and are looking to just change up your regular routine, then a day of active recovery might be best. Try out a different exercise class at your gym, head outside for an easy ride on your bike without your watch, or jump in the pool for some swim time. Keep in mind that rest and recovery are different. If you want to give yourself a break physically and mentally, take a rest day. If you want to allow your body to recover and rebuild itself, then go with active recovery. There’s no wrong choice really, both rest days and active recovery are important factors for improving performance.

Choosing one day of rest versus active recovery will not hurt your training, and you will probably experience the benefits from not only the break on your body, but also the mental break as well. How do you incorporate rest and active recovery into your regular training? Is active recovery and rest something that you enjoy, or would rather avoid? Tweet us your response @themarcpro