Active Recovery – Is It A Good Muscle Recovery Method?

Active Recovery: What is it?

The term active recovery refers to the practice of aerobic or bodyweight exercises at low intensities on days off from the gym. It is one of the most effective methods to achieve correct muscle recovery. There are several studies (2) (4) (5) that confirm greater effectiveness compared to passive rest: do not practice any exercises, rest. What is the active recovery method like?

Active recovery can improve the body’s ability to use lactic acid during a workout. This method is the most recommended for those people who usually carry out a muscle hypertrophy routine. (3)

Active recovery of muscles: What is the time needed?

Active muscle recovery consists of light training on rest days. As the word indicates, it allows the activation of the muscles through low-intensity exercises so that they recover more quickly. This method improves physical performance and muscle growth processes in the long term. (2)

The time required for an active recovery session should be 30-50% less than that of a traditional gym strength training routine. If you are used to training for an hour, the time of a session should not be more than about 20-30 minutes. An excess is going to be counterproductive.

Active recovery with body exercises

If you opt for active recovery with physical exercises, it is essential not to exceed times and loads. You can perform the same activities you include in the gym but with less than 60% loads.

No more than two sets of each exercise should be performed. If you want to increase the demand, you can increase the number of repetitions between 12 and 15 per set. Remember that in the active recovery method, the goal is not muscle development but optimization of the use of oxygen in the muscles.

The benefits of active recovery

One of the benefits of active recovery is increasing the capacity and flow of fluid around the muscles. In addition, the use of light loads is an opportunity to improve the execution technique of each exercise.

Active recovery provides the muscles with nutrients that ultimately aid muscle growth. Increasing the heart rate causes the body to pump blood to the tissues, which will provide the necessary elements for them to recover.

The downsides of active recovery

The disadvantages of active recovery are the possible tendency to exceed time. A person adept at fitness may not control the urge to train, and instead of focusing on muscle recovery will cause muscle fatigue.

It is necessary to remember that this muscle recovery method is effective as long as it is not overdone. You should not exceed the intensity and abuse the times when executing this method.

Are supplements good during active recovery?

Supplements are one more element for recovery. In fact, with a correct diet, these are not necessary. We recommend using bcaa amino acids during active recovery days if you decide to include them. In addition, an accurate supply of low-glycemic carbohydrates and proteins is ideal for these days.

Gainers, creatine monohydrates, or supplements to increase muscle volume are recommended only on strength training days. Excess calories from mass gainers on active recovery days will increase body fat.

Do sports serve as a method of recovery?

Sports are an excellent active recovery method, as long as they are practiced at moderate intensity. Soccer practice or swimming on rest days is perfect for achieving muscle recovery. One way to tell if you’re overdoing it is to measure your heart rate.

The heart rate should not exceed 60% of the maximum (MHR). A workout with a pulse more significant than 60%. This is the equivalent of 120 beats per minute for a 30-year-old. The most important thing is not the type of sport you do but to maintain this rhythm.


  • Active recovery is one of the best muscle recovery methods. In particular, it is recommended for those who are used to performing routines with weights frequently.
  • The basis of this method is to include exercises with light loads or aerobic exercises on rest days.
  • The method’s main advantages are optimizing the use of lactic acid and increased respiratory capacity. The main rule of thumb in this recovery method is not to exceed intensity and not to exceed your heart rate above 60% of your maximum heart rate.

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