The importance of active rest and how it can elevate your training.
So you've been training for a while and you want more gym time but your muscles can't take working out every day. What do you do? Of course, you could take a break and recover, there's no harm in that, and for the majority of gym enthusiasts that should be the case. But if you want to enhance your recovery and sustainably increase your strength, It might be a good time to add more active rest into the equation. Active Rest is defined mainly by the presence of more aerobic-based exercises and a reduction in anaerobic exercises. We can categorize active rest into three categories, skill days, activity days, and volume days.
Skill days can take several forms, from calisthenics skill progressions to Olympic weightlifting form practice, these can be great filler movements to get you into the gym
more without destroying your body. These exercises when done with less weight tend to take a lot more skill and endurance rather than strength, so they're not going to be as taxing on your body compared to a workout with heavy compound exercises. Some example movements might be a handstand progression or clean & jerk formwork. Both of these exercises can take long periods of time to master and if you're keeping the resistance low you can get a great workout in without taxing the body as much. This takes discretion because what might be active rest on a skill movement will be different for everyone. Instead of trying to do a handstand, you would be better off trying to do a headstand or another exercise that won't tax you as much. The same goes with the weight on a clean & jerk, you want a weight that you can do lots of reps with to really nail down that form.
Activity days are another form of active rest in which you're doing activities that require movement. So things like soccer, yoga, hockey, football, pokemon go, hiking, and swimming are all things that you could consider active rest. Now, this also takes a bit of discretion, because if you're throwing 1000% into a soccer game and getting destroyed it would not be considered active rest. But if you're playing soccer with friends in a park and not going full throttle, that would be considered active rest
Volume Days: Now for the final type of active rest, Volume days.
With these types of days, you can do a lot of reps with the standard gym exercises like curls and bench presses with little issue. However, the key here is that you're focusing on high reps and low-weight, which essentially turns these exercises into ...gasp!! CARDIO!
I hope you'll take the time to implement some sort of active rest into your training. It doesn't have to be every day, make just one extra day in the gym for active rest is all you need. For more advanced people it could be every off-day is in the gym. Remember to use your discretion, and if you're not sure feel free to ask one of our trainers for help.