An oxymoron or a terrific exercise concept? Both are correct. Active rest is utilizing the time between exercises to do either another exercise or stretches that effect the muscles you are working. Another concept of active rest alternating workout days with activities such as yoga, hiking, swimming or running. Bottom line is you are using the time you are not exercising to exercise, just differently.
Active rest makes your workout time more efficient, improves your recuperation and keep you from getting mentally sluggish. If you want to get the maximum workout in the minimum time then active rest is for you. Utilizing the time between sets is a great way to keep your heart rate up, burn extra calories and get the most out of your workout.
How does active rest work? Let’s say you are exercising your chest muscles, in between sets you could hold on to a piece of equipment and stretch the chest by pulling the arms backwards, holding 30 to 60 seconds, or do arm swings forward and backwards which actively stretch the chest muscle. Alternate exercising two muscle groups which are opposite to one another such as biceps and triceps (one bends the elbow and the other extends the elbow), is another way to utilize your rest time. By alternating exercises in this manner the contraction of one muscle makes the other muscle relax thus elongating the muscle, reducing metabolic waste products and shortening recuperation time.
Many people alternate days of their workout, weight training Monday, Wednesday and Friday while doing cardio Tuesday and Thursday then throw in a hiking or biking on the weekend. This is active rest on a larger scale and it is a terrific method to change things up and keep from getting stuck in a rut. Personally I will do weight training 2 to 3 times a week, cardio 1 to 2 times a week, yoga on Wednesday and an outdoor activity on the weekend. Sounds like a lot but like many of you I am an early riser, hit the gym by 6AM and done by 7 and now I have the entire day ahead of me. It’s a routine but it works for me and honestly it’s never boring.