What to Do on Active Rest Days: 5 Mind&Body Exercises to Try
Whatever your running goals, incorporating good active rests days is your key to success. When you constantly train at 100 percent of your limit, it doesn’t give your muscles enough time to heal and grow back stronger.
There are two types of recovery days: active and passive recovery days. Active days still require you to lace up those running shoes (so put down the remote control) and include workouts that keep the blood pumping while boosting flexibility, reducing lactic buildup, and giving your joints a day off.
An excellent active rest day routine not only helps to build back strong muscles but can also inject some fun and versatility into a stale workout regimen.
By checking out these 5 exercises below, you are well on your way to building the perfect workout routine that will make rest days a little more exciting.
If your body is feeling wrung out and you are just getting a little bored of your stale workout routine, there’s nothing like a good yoga session to cleanse the palate. With tons of varied yoga classes online (my favorite is Yoga with Adriene), finding the right class for your recovery needs is super easy.
Are your hip flexors super tight? There is a yoga class for that. Do you want a strength-training routine to build muscle in your upper and lower body? There is a yoga class for that. Are you feeling a little stressed? There is also a yoga class for that.
A good yoga class is not only great for healing and flexibility, but it also gives you a minute to work on your deep breathing, which is very beneficial to runners.
2. Go For A Hike
Hiking is a great way to cleanse your muscles and clear out the cobwebs in your brain. This low-impact activity keeps your muscles active and your heart rate elevated while traveling at a slow pace to soak in the world around you.
Your daily life is most likely as high-paced as your HIIT workouts, so taking a minute to soak in nature at a leisurely pace has a host of benefits for your body as well as your state of mind.
Hiking not only boosts your mood, but the difficulty of the trail also helps to build muscles in your glutes, hamstrings, and core. When I go for a hike, I leave my workout playlist at home so I can bask in the sights, sounds, and smells of nature for some good old-fashioned forest bathing!
3. Foam Rollers
Self-myofascial release is the practice of rolling a foam roller or a massage stick over tired muscle groups. High-impact workouts can really do a number on your muscles and flexibility, and using a self-myofascial release tool is a great way to massage all of those hard-working connective tissues that don’t see much love.
By incorporating a foam roller into your recovery days, you can help boost flexibility, range of motion, and even fight off DOMS.
Riding your bike is another great way to keep your energy levels high and impact low. You can either grab your bike for a quick trip around the neighborhood or hop onto a stationary bike at the gym. The key to good recovery is to keep your pace low and slow.
This movement is a great way to keep your heart pumping and your muscles active without doing any additional damage to your joints.
5. Weight Lifting
As long as you keep your weight low and your reps high, weight training helps strengthen muscles, elevate your heart rate, get that blood circulating without putting extra strain on your joints.
For runners, a great weight lifting routine is one that is centered around your hips and core.
Some runner-inspired weight lifting options include:
- Goblet squats: Hold the weight like a goblet and engage in a basic squat. This movement will fire up your glutes and hamstrings like a Christmas tree!
- Bridges: Lay on the floor and place a dumbbell squarely on your hips, and then thrust your hips high in the air making sure to pause a squeeze your glutes at the top.
- Weighted Sit-Ups: Lay on the floor and place a dumbbell in one hand (you don’t need to go super heavy here) up in the air and engage in a standard sit-up motion. This variation activates more muscles in your core and lats and is perfect for runners.
- Weighted Lunges: Pick up a pair of dumbbells and hold them at your sides. Alternate lunges with each leg making sure you keep those dumbbells steady. This movement not only lights up your quads but also boosts stability and balance as well.
When To Incorporate Active Rest Days?
The frequency of adding rest days into your workout schedule depends on a few factors. While many find that you should engage in an active rest day every three to five days, that isn’t a rule that is set in stone.
If you run left your body so sore that it is hard to move the following day, you need to take an active rest day. When to take an active rest requires listening to your body and making the necessary adjustments.
Taking a rest day is nothing to ever feel guilty about. If you train on sore muscles, it doesn’t make you stronger. On the contrary – it can potentially make you weaker.
Your muscles become sore when tiny tears occur in your muscles. When you don’t give your muscles adequate time to heal, it can actually make them weaker instead of stronger!
What About Passive Rest Days?
Active rest days are a great tool to keep your muscles active and engaged while giving your joints a bit of a break. However, passive rest days have their place, too.
It is generally advised to take at least one passive rest day a week where you sleep in and catch up on Netflix and give your hard-working body a break.
A passive rest day also helps to eliminate burnout. If lacing up your running shoes brings just as much misery as booting up your work computer, taking a day off can recharge your motivation batteries.
If your heart just isn’t in it, your workouts will suffer!
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