One of the biggest trends in the exercise world right now is the idea that taking recovery seriously, can prevent overtraining. I know that this idea is mind blowingly obvious, but there is a level at which elite athletes take recovery much more seriously than your regular fitness junkie. This is why they are able to train at the levels that they do for as long as they do without career ending injuries, for the most part.
I believe that one of the most crucial parts to recovery is the idea of an active rest day. Anyone and everyone in the fitness world understands that hard training is impossible to maintain for 365 days a year. However, the idea of rest days often has different interpretations.
I don’t take 100% rest days. Though my programming does call for rest days, I try to stay active no matter what. You may not find me in the gym on those rest days, but you will find me walking the dog or taking a break to do dynamic range of motion work. If you do find me in the gym on those rest days, it is highly likely that I will be performing the lifts at a low percentage. I do this in order to stay fresh and work out some of the toll taken on my body from the week. I believe that a 100% sedentary rest day is actually disadvantageous to success in any elite level sport. It’s important to stay active.
Activity every day is essential to recovery. I try to sweat every day, even on days when rest is prescribed, in order to aid in bloodflow and muscle recovery. This does not mean that I’m necessarily under load, it just means that I have done something that day to keep me active and functioning.
I would advise this for every person looking to be active and stay fit. For elite level athletes looking to perform at the highest level this is not an option. The body is not designed or meant to be sedentary. Stillness and rest is a good thing, but often a light jog or a 15 minute range of motion warm-up can be just the ticket to stimulate your recovery.