What is the best recovery? Active or Passive?

Which is better Active or Passive recovery ?

Recovery is one of the key moments in training and the period following physical exertion. We often hear about passive and active recovery without really knowing what it corresponds to, we tend to neglect passive recovery in favor of active recovery.

Active Recovery”

After a big session where the muscles have been used, active recovery allows you to oxygenate the muscles and therefore partially eliminate toxins. This is a recovery that allows our body not to remain inactive and limits aches and other muscle pains. If we take the example of an intensive race, after the effort we devote about fifteen minutes of our race with a walk during the last meters this allows to lower the temperature and reduce the pain related to the efforts of training.
In general, we practice a low intensity recovery activity (at 50% of the VMA) to stabilize our heart rate, we greatly reduce the intensity of the training to reaccustom our body.
The ideal is to devote days in your training schedule to recovery, it is a recovery that allows us to stay in motion and avoid the slack and low morale that we often feel. the days when we don't train because we can do active recovery on the days off if we want to stay active.

When and how to do active recovery

Immediately after a session: this allows metabolic recovery to begin. After training on the lower body, we can do 20 minutes of low intensity cycling (50% of our VO2 max) this will evacuate toxins without endangering the body and the muscles.
During the days off: You can keep a physical activity without putting a lot of intensity, if you take an active recovery with too much intensity it is a risk of overtraining and therefore a risk of injury! We are therefore looking for small, low-intensity exercises that make us happy, promoting mobility to give our bodies rest.

Active activities

  • Walking: no need to walk tens of kilometers, which is the simplest is often the most effective, walking is a complete activity perfect for relaxing your body without rushing it and losing a few calories.

  • Yoga: it is very gently that we come to recover, we work on our balance and our mobility while making our joints and muscles work.

  • Cycling: at low intensity it is a very good activity to recover, practicing outdoors is to oxygenate the body and the mind perfect for feeding the muscles, a short 1 hour ride is perfect for recovering from a coaching.

  • Swimming: it is the most complete activity that works the whole body without the risk of injury, the simple fact of doing lengths without a specific goal is perfect for recovery.

Passive Recovery”

Passive recovery corresponds to everything that is outside of physical activity and therefore the fact of moving your body to recover, it therefore concerns the way in which you treat your body outside of training: thesleep, a goodfood , massages, relaxation, sauna sessions or Foam rolling. The objective is really to free the body from muscular tension.

The importance of passive recovery

We could almost associate passive recovery with laziness because in itself it is about eating and resting which is the opposite of active physical activity! Except that it's more important than that, taking care of your body is also knowing how to listen to it, it's not just about spending your day on Netflix to recover. A complete rest is very beneficial to the body because as the cardiovascular system is used less, it allows a progressive relaxation of the body, the metabolism, a slow recovery. It's a workout for your body as it tries to regain its basal metabolism, an invisible workout that is needed. During this period when you no longer practice any activity, having a healthy lifestyle is essential. Do not neglect sleep or diet because these are the elements that will allow your body to recover gradually.

What is the best type of recovery?

We oppose two completely different types of recovery, active and passive recovery are both essential and go hand in hand to allow your body to recover from the solicitation of the muscles during training and to allow it to maintain a balance.
This is a question that makes a lot of noise because there are no definite answers on which of these recovery models is better than the other. However, studies have shown that a passive recovery is generally better because it allows you to increase your performance during periods of effort. Passive recovery therefore allows better recovery in the long term and increases the volume of training. Active recovery makes it possible to restructure the muscles and eliminate the toxins present, these two recoveries go together and one should not be favored in spite of the other.
After intense training, it is recommended to plan a calm phase with two days of recovery per week, this is essential for your body and well-being, it is also an element that will allow you to increase your performance in the next few efforts.

Illustration de la récupération active avec de la marche versus la récupération passive avec le sommeil et l’alimentation


Focus on active recovery

Houses. Physilogy and methodology of intermittent resistance training for acyclic sports. J Human Sport Exer. 2008

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