Incorporating Recovery into Your Training Plan

What is recovery, and why is it so important?
Always plan for recovery with your fitness.

When we work out, we are breaking down our muscles. They will rebuild stronger than before, and our bodies will adapt to new levels of fitness, but in order to do so, they need one important thing: time to recover.

A good recovery regime allows our bodies and muscles to heal, as well as give a mental break from pushing ourselves in the gym. It allows us to keep making progress instead of digging ourselves deeper and deeper into a hole of soreness and fatigue that never goes away. 

Keep in mind that recovery is not a one-size-fits-all concept. What works for one person may not work for another. It’s important to find a recovery system that suits your body and your training routine. While taking a couple of rest days a week is a good start, there are other factors to consider when planning your recovery. 

Active versus Passive Recovery

Many people think of passive recovery when they hear the words ‘rest day.’ Passive rest involves doing almost nothing at all, and while there is a time and place for passive rest, active recovery will (usually) lead to us feeling better a little faster.  

Now, what does active recovery mean? And what benefit does it provide?

Active recovery is a movement that facilitates recovery rather than increasing intensity. It can be a light workout, a massage, or stretching and mobility.

Massages (self or professional) and mobility work can help improve circulation and blood flow, allowing the body to clear out any toxins that may have built up after training. This also allows for the prompt delivery of nutrients through the body, facilitating muscle repair. 

Active recovery can also mean getting in light movement. This can mean going for a walk, playing catch, or doing something similar. The purpose is to get blood to the muscles without overexerting or challenging them. 

So, when planning out a weekly workout schedule, fit in a few of these active recovery days. Focus on stretching or just going for a light walk, something to get the blood flowing so you feel ready to get after it back at the gym. 


We have all heard it, but sleep is the most essential in the pillar of recovery. It doesn’t matter how well you plan your recovery days or how meticulous you are with your training. Your performance and health will suffer if you fall too far behind on sleep. 

Sleep is when our bodies truly take the time to repair themselves. Our hearts can rest, and our bodies rebuild. If there is one thing to prioritize for full recovery and performance, it is sleep. 

Sleep affects our mental health and our perception of difficult tasks. It also affects sports performance and our overall well-being. We won’t discuss all the benefits here, but if you would like to read up on them, check out this article.

Or, if you like reading books, I recommend Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker. 

The simplest solution is often the best, and sleep is the simplest way to increase health and performance. You can take steps to improve your sleep, such as setting a consistent schedule and stopping all screen time an hour before bed, but if you are serious about your health and fitness, sleep is where many of the gains can be found. 

Nutrition and Hydration

After sleep, nutrition is next on the pillar of recovery. We often find ourselves rushing towards supplements and powders to aid us in our recovery, but if our diet and nutrition are not optimized, these supplements will do little to help. After all, they are called supplements for a reason. There are many ways to supplement your diet, but they should not replace whole foods. 

Focus on getting enough protein throughout your day. Not only is this a more satiating macronutrient, it also aids in muscle regrowth. 

Fats and carbohydrates both play important roles in our health, and you should try (again) to get these nutrients through whole foods. Eat fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains to fulfill these requirements. 

When we prioritize eating whole foods and avoid processed ones, we can feel it in at the gym. For more nutrition tips, check out this article

Hydration is another important facet of recovery. When we sweat, we lose water and minerals, and these electrolytes need to be replaced to maintain our levels of performance. Make it a point to drink water throughout the day and replenish with electoryles after sweaty sessions on hot summer days. 

Other Recovery Methods

There are many other ways to increase your recovery; however, try to think of it like a pyramid. Sleep is at the bottom, with nutrition right above. If these are not in check, then we are spinning our wheels. It is tempting to seek out that perfect recovery method, but there is no secret to success. We need to focus on the ‘not so exciting’ things, such as sleep and nutrition, before going beyond that. 

If you do have your sleep and nutrition dialed in, and have a great split of active recovery days in your training, you can experiment with things like hot and cold therapy, ice baths, and fitness trackers to monitor how your body responds to them. Again, everyone will be different, and what words for your friends may not work the same for you. 

There is a time to push your limits at the gym, and then there is a time to prioritize your recovery. Recognize that continuouts, high intensity activity with no window to recover will not yield the best results, in the end. 

Push yourself, work hard, but be sure to give your body time to rebuild between. 

Article by Karisa Stapp

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