Lungs heaving, heart pounding, sweat starting to get to that embarrassing drip-on-the-gym-mat stage – and you’re in a battle with your own mind to push for one… more… rep. Before dropping to your mat with a splat, spent.  

It’s not a workout unless you feel like that right?

And if it’s not a workout, it surely must be a rest/cheat day. Comprising of a total tools-down and flop on the couch in uggies with a stack of pancakes. Because, fitness is an all-or-nothing thing right? Workout hard, and take your rest day seriously (that means maple syrup too). 

But let’s pause this fitflix episode for a sec.  

You know, there is a lot to be said for sometimes, just sometimes, not chasing pain.

So why consider a recovery workout, and what exactly is it?

Basically, it’s still a workout session, but it’s a) less intense and b) you do  less volume. That means lighter weights, slower cardio speeds and not as long as your normal sessions. It’s also sometimes called an “active recovery session.” You still move, you’re definitely not “at rest” – you just reduce the impact on your body. 

A recovery workout is something you can throw into your 7-day schedule, as a time to simply, enjoy moving your body, at the same time as helping you improve your recovery game – allowing you to go even harder  when it’s time for your next “full” session.

Alternatively, if right now for you just getting to the gym is an achievement , the thought of putting yourself though the pain perceived to be required for a so-called “good workout” might be yet another blocker – a recovery workout can help bridge the gap.

A recovery workout is something you can throw into your 7-day schedule, as a time to simply, enjoy moving your body, at the same time as helping you improve your recovery game.

Here’s why you should consider including a recovery workout as part of your schedule:

  • If you set an intention to exercise a certain number of times each week, but consistently seem to fall one or two sessions short due to muscle soreness, a recovery workout can help you finally bridge that gap.
  • On those days you’re feeling like you just can’t, but know doing nothing at all will leave you feeling mentally and physically sluggish, putting a label on your workout as a ‘Recovery Session’ is amazingly freeing – giving you permission to just do what you can. 
  • Light cardio helps to flush the lactic acid from harder sessions – pair it with stretching before and after for a winning combination.
  • A recovery session gives you full permission to take your devices pre-loaded with a fave TV series (or motivational podcast) – feeding your mind provides the double win of making the time whizz by and leaving you feeling uplifted with some fresh new positive mental associations with your exercise.

Putting a label on your workout as a ‘Recovery Session’ is amazingly freeing.

How to prepare for a fun recovery workout: 

  • Pick a different playlist to the usual – less hardcore, more uplifting, think ballads or just really BIg Songs like this, this or… ooooh this one.
  • Pick your low impact exercise of choice – it could be an outdoor walk, cross trainer, bike, swim or yoga. The only rule here is that you know you’ll enjoy it.
  • Get set to lower the intensity – think of a number out of ten you want to set your recovery workout at. So, if your normal workouts are an 7-9 out of ten in the effort/pain stakes – with ten being  the effort you would put into say a competitive run or sports competition – your recovery should be about a 5-7.
  • Your recovery session is a great chance to workout with a different buddy – perhaps someone you wouldn’t normally workout with, due to being at different stages of your fitness journey for example.  A recovery workout is the great evener of the playing field – all human bods just need a chat on side-by-side bikes sometimes.
  • Set a reasonable, super achievable intention for the workout that will still give you a sense of achievement. This could be a (slow) calorie burn, or a time-bound goal.
  • Put your recovery session in your calendar each week – make it something to look forward to – a slice of time when you’re not so focused on surviving the session, a time you can use to gather your thoughts and organise your mind, while still enjoying endorphin benefits moving your body brings – better sleep, better mindset and a new insight or two from that motivational podcast.

So, have I won you over? Will you join me in trialling more regular weekly recovery sessions? Or is this already an unmissable fixture of your weekly workout plan.  Let me know in the comments below!

Feature image credit. 


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