Active Recovery Workout Examples

Previously covered topics relating to active recovery have included over-training, what is active recovery and rest vs. active recovery; now I take a look at active recovery workout examples that will help you get the best out of your training and performance, especially on rest days.

Andrea Hanley rowing on a C2 rower at Progressive Fitness CrossFit. Crossfit image, picture, photo, photography of health, elite, exercise, training, workouts, WODs, taken at Progressive Fitness CrossFit,Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA

The premise of active recovery is to give yourself a feel-good workout on a “rest day”, allowing your body to recover from previous hard day’s training. It’s said to promote a better response from your body to help it recover better than if you simply take the day off. So, now that you’re aware of why active recovery is a good idea, the next thing is to decide on what exercises to do… however, remember that it is a low-intensity workout, so keep it that way!

Active Recovery Workout Examples


Hiking is a great way to simply get out and do something active. A hike which will leave you feeling great afterwards is the main aim – don’t do something that will leave you floored, because you then defeat the object of active recovery. Setting out on a hike which will increase your heart rate mildly, get you moving through a wide range of movements and which gets you taking in some fresh air.This will only do you good.


Jumping onto a Concept2 rower and doing a slow-paced two kilometer row will elevate your heart rate moderately, while still calling on your whole body to do the low intensity work. The blood circulation, relaxed environment and the fact fact that you’re engaging your entire body is something that your body will revel in during this active recovery workout. If you come off the rower and you feel great, then you’ve done it right.


The low-impact nature of swimming, especially when done at a low-intensity rate, is perfect for active recovery. The fact that it is less intense on your joints, encourages a great range of motion, especially through your arms, and it increases your cardiovascular rate, means that if done at that moderate intensity, you’ll get out feeling relaxed and good. If you can do anywhere from ten to 20 minutes of low-intensity swimming, you’ll be on the right track.


If you can get into doing yoga on your rest days, you’ll see many benefits from it translating into your recovery as well as into your performance in your selected sport. The low-impact nature of yoga still stimulates your metabolism, while the kinesthetic benefits translate into better self awareness and body control. It also helps clear your mind, allowing you to enter a new week of training with a fresh outlook and a fresh attitude. Breathing techniques in yoga are also advantageous, especially when they translate into performance in any sport, from running to Olympic weightlifting.

Foam Rolling

Known as Self -Myofascial Release (SMR), foam rolling is one such activity where you make use of a foam roller, lacrosse balls, and other items to massage your muscles. It helps by improving blood circulation, stretches tendons and muscles, alleviates stiffness and tension, helps break down lactic acid and can even help improve spinal alignment. The goal is to target areas which are stiff and sore from training and to roll them out for 30-plus seconds per muscle group. Spending 10 minutes a day, even on training days, foam rolling will help in many ways and you’ll reap the benefits.

Mobility Work

Working on your mobility is possibly one of the most neglected areas for athletes. Mobility work is generally light, low-intensity and stimulates the body to allow a better range of motion through our joints and muscles. Read the review by David Ayres on the incredible book Becoming a Supple Leopard to get an idea of why mobility work is key to active recovery and being a much better athlete.

What other forms of active recovery do you use? Let us know about some of your great active recovery workout examples…

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