How to best recover after exercise?

We are aware that post-exercise recovery is important for us to reap the benefits of exercises and to recover physically and mentally for the next workout. However, more importantly, how do we best recover for our next workout?

There are generally 2 types of recovery that we can use: Active and passive recovery. Passive recovery involves taking a complete break from your workouts. You can choose to laze around at home or go about your usual routines minus the exercise. Active recovery, however, means working out at a lighter load/intensity/duration. A recovery workout means having a easy/light workout compared to your typical ones. The type of workout can be similiar or different. For example, a lifter can choose to perform fewer exercises with a much lighter load OR just go for a swim/run/play sports etc on his active recovery days.

Given that each type has each pros and cons (read this article), how shall we decide which type to choose? It depends on several factors such as exercise frequency, intensity, duration/volume, type etc. For example, compare a training cycle of 1 week comprising of either 3 or 5 similiar workouts. You can choose to take 2 days off completely (passive recovery) for the 5 workouts/week compared to having 2 active days and 2 off days for the 3 workouts/week. It all depends on individual and other mitigating factors.


Active Versus Passive Recovery.Retrieved April 14, 2015, from