The Difference Between Active & Passive Recovery

October 08, 2020

Active Recovery vs Passive Recovery

Staying active and finding workouts that you enjoy is important all year round. But, you can’t workout without understanding the best possible ways to recover post-workout. Recovery is essential to performance and injury prevention. Make the most of your workouts by incorporating active and passive recovery into your routine.

What is Active Recovery

After a high-intensity workout like a 5K or HIIT class, you will want to focus on active recovery. This type of recovery includes low-intensity exercises that help to reduce lactic acid buildup in the muscles, reduce fatigue, and keep your heart rate at a more balanced rate.1

Examples of Active Recovery Exercises

Length of Active Recovery

How long you complete active recovery exercises post-workout depends on the exercise you completed. For example, if you spent an hour running at a steady pace, you may spend 20–30 minutes cooling down with active recovery exercises.

What is Passive Recovery?

Although active recovery is crucial after an intense workout, passive recovery is just as important. Passive recovery is “the complete cessation of physical activity.”1 The key to your performance is listening to your body. If you need to take a day off to recover, you can do that. Plus, taking a day or two off to rest your body could improve your performance overall.

You don’t want to push your body to the point of burnout. It’s important to note that if you take too many days for passive recovery, it could put you back from the level you were training at.

Examples of Passive Recovery

  • Getting enough sleep each night
  • Eating foods that fuel your body
  • Hot or cold baths
  • Massage

Which Type of Recovery Is Better?

The answer to that question is neither. Depending on your body, your workout, and your performance, both active and passive recovery would be beneficial to add to your routine. Switch up your typical recovery and add a mix of active and passive to keep you moving and enjoying your workouts.

Recommended Recovery Products

Quinn, Elizabeth. “What Is Active Recovery and When Should You Use It in a Workout?” Verywell Fit, 30 May 2020,