What Does Workout Recovery Look Like?

You may have been scrolling and saw a post about workout recovery – a recovery run, recovery session, recovery nutrition, recovery tool, etc. You may be thinking, what should workout recovery look like? Does it have to be so complex (or require fancy equipment)?

Recovery is actually pretty important. During a workout, your muscle actually gets micro-tears, which then heal during rest/recovery. When they heal, the muscle becomes stronger than before.

Focus on the basics

Workout recovery between your normal sessions should focus on the basics:
– Sleep
– Hydration
– Nutrition
– Appropriate training load/volume

You may see fancy things like:
– Supplements
– Ice baths
– Saunas
– Special tools like foam rollers, balls, massage guns, etc.
– Services like massage, cryotherapy, cupping, etc.

But, honestly, you don’t need the fancy things until you’ve mastered the basics! Just like fat burners aren’t going to do anything until you’ve mastered proper nutrition, fancy workout recovery tools aren’t worth the money until you’ve mastered the basics! And, honestly, there is A LOT of marketing that goes into these recovery tools. There’s always a new fad going around.

Add a deload week

You also want to consider periodically adding a deload week to allow your body to recover a bit more (check out this blog post here on why they’re helpful). If you want an intermediate/advanced full program focusing on mobility and strength that’s a little lighter, check out my Mobility and Deload Lift Like Laura Program.

Recovery can be active & passive

Active recovery requires you to move – think a leisurely walk or bike, stretching, etc. Where as passive recovery is, well, passive. So, you have someone else or another tool do the work – think saunas, ice baths, massage, etc.

Active recovery has to be at a lower intensity than your normal training. So, what looks like a workout for one person, may be recovery for another person. The load, tempo, and exercise all determine whether it’s considered a workout or a recovery session.

Recovery improves blood flow and removes waste products from that area that built up with exercise.  For some, recovery looks like walking, stretching, etc. For others, it looks like handstands, a light bodyweight session, or a workout session using light weights.

Passive techniques like saunas, hot baths, foam rolling, cupping, dry needling, massage, etc. can also help improve blood flow to an area. But, these are not necessarily superior to more active recovery, like walking or stretching.

Active RecoveryPassive Recovery
Requires you to moveSomeone else or a tool does the work
Improves blood flow & removes waste productsImproves blood flow & removes waste products

Final thoughts

In my opinion, passive techniques are overused and over-emphasized in our fitness culture. They’re often a crutch when the basics and active work aren’t done. You don’t want to depend on these passive recovery techniques. If you feel like you always need them, it is likely that something in your training program isn’t optimal for you. You may need to look at the overall volume, intensity, and type of training you’re doing and switch it up based on what your body needs.

Don’t forget that active recovery has benefits that last. Walking or biking has cardiovascular benefits. Mobility/stretching can help improve your range of motion and reduce the risk of injury by optimizing your motion.

Passive workout recovery tools may feel good, and I’m not saying they don’t have their place, but you have to master the basics first!

Hopefully you found this helpful! Remember, no one is perfect and that in itself is perfect!

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Remember: this post is for informational purposes only and may not be the best fit for you and your personal situation. It shall not be construed as medical advice. The information and education provided here is not intended or implied to supplement or replace professional medical treatment, advice, and/or diagnosis. Always check with your own physician or medical professional before trying or implementing any information read here. 

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