Pick One: Active Recovery Or Rest Day

When To Take An Active Recovery Or Rest Day, by Collin Mahler.

Hello everyone! Here is the promised follow up to the previous post about the difference between an Active Recovery day and a Rest day. Now we will talk about when to take each one during the week. 

So, let’s start with when a Rest Day should be taken during the week. Generally, a Rest day is taken at the end of the week, such as Saturday, Sunday or both. But is this correct? For the most part, sure, it’s okay, but it’s not the golden standard that you have to follow. A Rest day should be taken at the end of YOUR week, whether that’s Saturday and Sunday, or you are on a different schedule and it’s Monday, Tuesday or Friday, and Saturday whatever day or days of the week are the end of YOUR week is generally how it’s done. Now, let’s talk about when you should or it makes sense to take a rest day. This probably should be taken at the end of the week because you’re tired, you need a break physically, mentally, emotionally. You just need a mental reset at the end of the week. 

On the flip side, when shouldn’t you take a Rest day? Let’s say you have a bad workout or a rough day at work, but you’re in the middle of your work week. It doesn’t make much sense to try and take a Rest day if the next day you’re going to work, workout or do both. You’re not going to feel much better by the next day, especially if you already worked that day. Remember, if you read the last post, a Rest day does NOT have an 8 hour work day in it. You’re not going to recover much if you’ve worked in a day and then go home and do nothing or sit on the couch for a couple hours instead. What you should do at this point is an Active Recovery day instead. You should however consider at least one Rest day once a week or once every two weeks at the end of the week.

Let’s move on to Active Recovery days next. Like I just mentioned, the day to take an Active Recovery day, is during the week if you feel like you just got run over. Whether it was from the workout the day before, something that happened during work or both, it will make you feel better if you do something active, whether it’s at the gym biking or rowing for a few minutes or going home but going on a walk or leisurely bike ride will help you feel better by the next day than if you were just to do nothing. Not only will you feel better physically since you worked out some soreness, you’ll probably feel better at work and you’ll feel better mentally because you didn’t skip out on going to the gym, you just did something different, something that was probably needed. So, for an Active Recovery day you should play it by feel and if there’s a day that you’re particularly sore or feel bad do an Active Recover day.

For the most part you should be taking one or both of these a week, for sure at least one. For the most part you should take an Active Recovery day and a Rest day during the week, your body needs it. But let’s talk about some scenarios where this might not be possible or you shouldn’t take both days. 

Let’s start off with why you should potentially take two Active Recovery days, and not a Rest day. If you have a job where you spend the majority of your time sitting, AKA a desk job, it might not be a great idea to take a Rest day. Why? Because what are you going to do for the most part during a Rest day? Or more accurately, what position are you going to spend the majority of your time in for a Rest day? You’ll more than likely be sitting. If you have a desk job, you do NOT need more time spent sitting, especially if you have poor posture. If you have a desk job, you should probably take two Active Recovery days so that you can, 1. Recover from the week and 2. Work on being out of a sitting position so that you can strengthen muscles that are normally not working when sitting. 

On the other hand, what about taking two Rest days in a row? This might vary depending on the person, but if I rest for two days in a row Saturday and Sunday, and then try to workout on Monday, I feel horrible. This is because I haven’t done any physical activity for two whole days, then I feel slow and lethargic, like I’ve never worked out before come that Monday. If this sounds familiar maybe try an Active Recovery day on Saturday or Sunday instead of a Rest day, see if you feel better.

Now let’s talk about the other scenario where it might not be possible to take both an Active recovery and Rest day in the same week. AKA, you work or workout 6 or 7 days a week. If this is the case now you don’t have a day to dedicate to both Active Recovery and Rest, because unfortunately there are not 8 days in the week, hate to break it to you, as nice as it would be to have a three-day weekend every week, it’s just not possible. 

So, in this circumstance what should happen? Now that you’re working or working out more, proportionately you need to recover more. So, now instead of 1 day dedicated to Recovery you need to recover as many days as you can, so instead of working out and being done, now you should try and do something to recover as many days of the week as you can after the workout. As easy or hard as that sounds, it needs to be done, as you are now stressing your body out more, you need to recover more. 

Hope all this makes sense and helps you decide to do Active Recovery or Rest days when you need them as your body is a very important part of your life and needs to be treated as such.

Have a good weekend everyone!

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