Recovery days should be an essential part of your workout plan. A recovery day is a restful day for your body and your mind to recoup. An active recovery day is the same thing, however, you will incorporate a mild workout. These days are determined by how much you actively workout out. If you are just beginning, we recommend two on, one off. If you are actively advanced, you might consider a recovery day once a week. Active recovery helps your muscles to not tighten up, for example, someone running a marathon may want to fully rest the next day and experience extreme soreness. However, it is best if they talk a walk and stretch out the exhausted muscles. This will actually help the soreness. Below we will explore the best recovery day workouts for the colder months this winter season. Bundle up!
- Practice your Form
You can still hit the gym on a recovery day, it will just look a little different. Go through your routine as you normally would, however, remove all weight and focus solely on your form. Do a weighted squat (minus the weight), looking in the mirror at every rep and watching how you can improve your form. Can you drop it lower, can you move your feet wider? Whatever it is that your form needs, this is your opportunity to improve that for the next time you do add weight. Plus, hello, gym = indoors… so you can beat those winter blues.
- Mild Cardio
Depending on where you reside in the winter, this practice can be indoors or outdoors. Living in LA, our winters tend to be wimpy. This gives us the opportunity for light cardio in the form of walking the dogs, an easy hike or even walk on the beach. If your location requires you to be indoors: the treadmill, elliptical and stationary bike will be your besties for an active recovery day. This is not a chance to push yourself, take it slow and easy. Enjoy the moment with a podcast or your favorite playlist. Zone out and get that recovery in.
- Flexibility Stretching
This might just be exactly what your body is craving, stretches. Possibly start with a 15 minute sauna session to warm up the muscles and then head to the mats. Practice some light yoga poses, use the foam roller or just stretch out in your favorite way. This will help your mobility and flexibility, which will also help you train even harder the next day. If you don’t have access to a sauna, try a 15 minute walk to warm-up before stretching.
Recovery of the mind, is just as important if not more so than recovery of the body. You must be strong mentally to be strong physically. Mediation is a great form of active recovery for the mind. Find yourself a quiet, dark place. Focus on your breath for 15 minutes. Paying attention to the breathe come in, visualize it flowing into every corner of your body and breathe out through your nose. Pay attention only to the now, the breath. If your mind wonders (it will and it’s okay), smile to yourself and bring the thought back to the breathe and the present time. You can practice this along with a guided meditation app or you can put on some calming music. This can be in the comfort of your own home, making it the perfect winter recovery!
Sometimes you might just need a day. A day to zone out and just relax the mind and body. No working out, no active recovery. Just recovery. The greatest form of this is: self-care. Draw a bath and add some epsom salts. Put on a face mask and watch your favorite holiday movie. Get a pedicure and turn off your phone. Play in the snow with your kids. Whatever relaxes your soul, makes you laugh or just puts you in a great mood. Taking the day, will bring you back that much stronger for your next workout.
Properly refueling your mind and body with active recovery days is crucial to your wellness. While pushing yourself is definitely the mindset needed to crush your goals, know that some days it is okay to just be in a relaxed state. This refreshment for the soul will give back time and time again.
What is your favorite recovery day activity? Tell me in the comments!