What Is An Active Recovery Workout... And How To Build Your Own. It's Easy!
Kindal doing a deep side lunge as part of recovery and stretching.

What Is An Active Recovery Workout... And How To Build Your Own. It's Easy!

Yesterday you killed it!

You had a great workout.

You flung around some kettlebells...

Knocked out some heavy squats...

Flew through some burpee circuits...

And today you are feeling it. You're crazy sore... it hurts to move... you know you need to rest. But you want to do something too.

(But you love this sore feeling a little right? It lets you know you did something... you pushed hard. It is a satisfying feeling.)

But what do you do without making your soreness worse?

This is what an active recovery workout is... or a rest day workout.

It's a low intensity workout... that allows you to still move... create blood flow to help your muscles recovery faster... but doesn't strain you or damage muscle tissue further.

Kindal smiling as she sits on a box after a tough workout
A Big Idea

When you're really sore... a lot of people want to sit and do nothing.

But this is a huge mistake. If you sit and do nothing... your body will tighten up fast.

You have to move on recovery days. You will feel so much better.

Three Keys To An Active Recovery Workout

Blood Flow

It really comes down to blood flow.

Blood carries oxygen and nutrition to your muscles and joints. And after a tough workout... it's all about recovery. You just damaged your muscle tissue.

On your rest day, if you just do your normal routine... i.e. probably sitting most of the time...

Your muscles will stay in one position nearly all day.

Sitting squeezes and pools blood away from your butt and other leg joints.

Your lymph system will not function has efficiently when you don't move.

Your muscles will get tighter if they don't move... they'll be more sore... your movement will be more limited.

You have to get up and move to increase blood flow and help your body recover.

Low Intensity

It needs to be easy.

You don't want to further damage your muscle tissue and dig the whole deeper.

But this doesn't mean you can't do a bodyweight circuit or some form of strength training... although I hesitate to call it strength training.

We'll get into what I recommend in a second.

Big Movements

Active recovery workouts use big movements... not small isolated movements.

I'm talking big joint movements and moving in ways you don't typically move.

Again we'll talk about mobility in a second.

But most women (and men) just go for a jog or walk.

This is good... but it's still very repetitive. Use your recover to move your body in ways that strengthen joints.

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Kindal doing squats during a live workout

My Recommended Active Recovery Workout Styles

Stretch Session

It can be a yoga session or your own stretch session.

But this is a great chance to work on flexibility... something most women who are into strength training don't do enough of (and visa versa).

Kindal smiling as she sits on a box after a tough workout
A Big Idea

It's always funny to me... and I fit this stereotype too.

But there seems to be yoga women. These women love yoga and pilates... it's their jam. They don't strength train much if at all.

There are strength training women. These women love weights and kettlebells... it's their jam and they don't do yoga much at all.

There are runners. They love running... it's their jam and they don't do yoga or strength training much if at all.

We tend to silo ourselves... not realizing that all training is beneficial.

Break out of your box at least once a week if not more.

Here's how I prefer to do my stretch sessions.

  • I pick six stretches I want to really improve on.
  • I go through each stretch... holding it for at least 1 minute.
  • I repeat the list of six... three times... each time trying to go a little further.

I love yoga a lot... but I have found this repeating of stretches has helped my flexibility more than anything I've done in the past.

Frog

This is one of my favorite stretches for the hips. You don't need sliders... sliders just help you sink into the stretch as you hold it.

Knee In Corner of Wall

Love this stretch. If you sit a lot during the day ... you need this stretch after a tough workout. (This is a great stretch every single day.)

Sphinx and Cobra Pose

Stretch your abs... shoulders... even the front of your hips with these stretches. Plus I believe it's good to put your spine into extension.

There is a lot you can do including trigger ball therapy to help make your stretch sessions far more effective.

Mobility Sessions

This is a big one.

Mobility is nothing more than trying to move your joints through a full range of motion.

The more you move your joints... over time... the more range of motion you'll get... especially when you pair this with stretching.

Most of the time when I pick my six stretches from above... two of them will be mobility focused.

Exercises like:

Shoulder Dislocates

You can use a PVC pipe or a belt... a golf club... or broom stick. But dislocates are great for building should mobility and opening your chest too.

Hip Circles

I LOVE hip circles. If you sit a lot during the day... your hips will get crazy tight . Circles... both standing and kneeling... will get your hips moving.

Do these before you do stretches like pigeon or lizard.

(Use a box as a guide to get your leg at least that high... it's a great tip.)

Shoulder Pulses

OMG!!! If you have tight shoulders or you sit a lot during the day... these are must do.

You have to keep your:

  • Heels against the wall...
  • Your butt...
  • Your low back if possible...
  • Your shoulders...
  • Your head...
  • Elbows...
  • And forearms...

Everything against the wall.

Then you pulse and it's hard. Get your arms as high as you can... while keeping everything on the wall.

Side to Side Deep Lunges

Stretching your groin out is so important. Most women never do it and again... if you sit a lot during the day... this is a must.

Use your hands to help you and FOCUS hard on keeping your heels (on the bent leg) down on the ground.

There are so many other great mobility exercises for active recovery workouts:

  • Weighted arm circles
  • Laying down overhead arm reaches
  • Hanging from a bar
  • Downward dog to upward dog flows
  • Monkey squats
  • And more.

I will write and do YouTube videos for all of these exercises and give you some routines as well.

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Kindal doing squats during a live workout

Run With Some Bodyweight Exercises

I never see enough women do this...

During your run set your watch for 2 minutes... and every 2 minutes do:

  • 25 pushups
  • 50 squats
  • 60 second plank hold

Think about this...

If you run for an hour... you will complete 30 sessions of this little circuit.

That's a lot and lot better than just running.

If that's too much... make it every 5 minutes. That would be 12 total sessions.

Make your exercises easier... remember we are trying to recover.

  • Do your pushups from your knees... or off a bench.
  • Add more movement by doing pushup circles or pushup reaches
  • Do squat pulses or squats with a kick or leg circle

Adding in some mobility to your bodyweight exercises is a perfect way to make an active recovery workout even more effective.

Play

Finally... do something you probably have not done in a long time... play like a kid.

Even better play like a kid... with your kids (if you have kids).

I'm not kidding either:

  • Frisbee
  • Football
  • Rock climb
  • Roller blade
  • Golf
  • Dance

Anything that requires you to move your body in new different ways.

Anything that requires you to get off your butt on a rest day and move some.

The other weekend, Dan and I went to our local beach and played frisbee for over an hour.

It was so much fun.

Running... cutting... changing directions... doing little sprints to catch the frisbee.

We were moving in ways we almost never do anymore. It felt really good too... not just a physical break and rest from traditional workouts...

It was a mental break too. True play... I know something adults don't get enough of these days.

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Kindal doing squats during a live workout

What Will Your Rest Day Workout Look Like?

That is more than enough to keep your rest days busy for the whole year.

I think it's so important to move every single day.

Did you know when I work with a new client the number one issue holding them back more than anything else????

It's mobility.

It's the accumulation of their daily movement routine... the same routine they tend to repeat day in and day out.

Active recovery workouts will unlock your body's ability to move.

Get after it and share with me on social media if you did an active recovery workout today and what exactly you did.

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