Home / Cardiovascular / Rest and Recovery is Necessary








“Every-thing in mod-er-ation.”  This phrase rings in my head on a regular basis.  I can hear it coming from my very special great-Aunt Winnie. She was a class act until she died about 15 years ago in her nineties.  She had her hair professionally styled into a curly silver beehive once a week and spoke with a very halting, rhythmic cadence.  Little did she know her words would guide my life in such a way.  

Rest and recovery are as critical to your fitness routine as crunches, running, and planks. When we deny our bodies the opportunity to rest, we will limit performance and long term gains.  The progress we seek does not actually happen during the workout, it happens when our body is recovering, regenerating tissue and delivering nutrients depleted during the hard work to our muscular and skeletal systems.  

So, what’s the best way to recover, and how much is enough?  That’s actually an excellent question, with no “one size fits all” answer.  The need for recovery varies widely, based on many factors, including fitness level, a person’s ability to deal with outside stressors (physical, emotional, and psychological), and levels of fatigue.  Here are a few key guidelines:

Recovery is necessary until you are no longer sore.  If you are sore for more than 1-2 days, you probably overdid it.  That’s ok, but pay attention to your body and adjust accordingly.  Overdoing it on a regular basis will end up causing more trouble than it’s worth.  

  • If you feel like you need a day off, then take one.  That’s your body’s way of telling you it needs a break.  I know we often question ourselves, “do I really need a break,, or am I being lazy?”  You are the only one that can answer that question, but ignoring the signals your body is sending is a recipe for injury and/or overtraining.  You need to walk this line carefully.
  • You have two options for recovery, active and passive.  Active recovery incorporates some movement at 60-70 percent of your maximum effort.  Passive recovery means total rest.  Studies show that active recovery is more effective, delivering oxygen to your muscular system to aid in repair.  Fear not!  We are not suggesting you “do nothing” (although that is ok sometimes, too), but we are suggesting you take a bike ride, walk the Prairie Path, play with your kids, go on a hike, hit tennis balls, take a yoga class…you get the idea.  
  • The real answer to how much recovery you need comes from trial and error.  Carefully listen to your body.  If you ever have any questions, any of the trainers at FITT-RX would be happy to help guide you through it.  
  • Carefully choose your post-exercise nutrition.  A combination of carbohydrates and some protein have proven most effective for accelerating the recovery process.  Your highest post-exercise calorie burn occurs within the first hour of completing your workout, with your metabolism slowing to around 60 percent of that rate in the second hour.  Be sure to use that post-exercise high to your advantage.  Be smart with your choices (bananas, yogurt, whole grain bagel, high quality protein shake, cashews, milk…maybe chocolate?!) More good news…caffeine has also proven to aid in recovery and enhance performance in the next workout when combined with the carbs and protein.  Up to two cups of coffee within four hours of finishing your workout can help you reach new heights.  Be sure to balance it with plenty of water…you need to rehydrate and caffeine has the opposite effect.  


It’s obvious around FITT-RX that we are a community of people who LOVE to work out.  The physical and mental benefits show on the faces (and the biceps) of all of us.  I don’t know about you, but my long-term goal for all this spinning, and burpees, and pushups, and thrusters is to be able to move, free of pain, and with all my original body parts when I am 80 years old and beyond.  So, just like good ‘ol Aunt Winnie, everything should be done in moderation (including, and especially, recovery).  

-References: American Council on Exercise
Written By:  Megan Wenstrup, ACE Certified Personal Trainer

Share this page

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *