After a hard workout, you might be dreading the soreness which will inevitably ensue over the next 24-48 hours. Your instinct could be to take the next day off from exercising altogether. Not so fast!
Active recovery allows you to keep the momentum in terms of your fitness AND can potentially decrease the lactic acid build-up that’s partially to blame for muscle soreness.
Instead of taking the day off, try following your high intensity training day with a low intensity workout. For example, if you did sprints on Saturday, you might just want to do an easy jog on Sunday.
The principle behind active recovery can also be applied within the context of a single workout. When used this way, active recovery refers to following an intense exercise with a less intense one.
Rather than simply resting in between sets of pull-ups, an active recovery workout might have you alternating pull-ups with a lower intensity exercise that allows your arms to rest while keeping your heart rate up, like jumping jacks.
While I am a proponent of daily exercise, that doesn’t mean that every workout has to be an all-out balls-to-the-wall effort. Varying your intensity is the key to maintaining a daily workout regimen without over-training.
Remember to listen to your body–use active recovery when it feels appropriate–but don’t start using it as a rationalization to slack off.