Rest vs. Recovery & How to Get Both

Your coach has surely told you to be sure to get enough Rest & Recovery each week between workouts.  But what really is Rest and what is Recovery?

While they are often paired together, they are not the same thing but you do still need to be getting enough of both!

Same, same but different.

REST includes sleep and the time in a day that you aren’t active.

RECOVERY is the intentional and deliberate efforts of maximizing your body’s repair.  This includes: nutrition, hydration, mobility, massage, meditation, posture, heat, ice, compression and stress management.

Both aspects will help to improve your recovery, and therefore your health and performance, but a balance of both efforts is most important!

You can’t just Rest and never Recover…your body won’t be as recuperated as you need.

You can’t just Recover and never Rest…you will physically and mentally burn out!


 How much do you need?

When it comes to sleep, you should aim for a minimum of 7 hours per night. If you are aiming to achieve high levels of performance 8 hours is good and 9 hours is best.  If you are not dialing in your nightly hours of sleep, it’s almost a waste to be committing hours to training and money on clean nutrition; getting enough sleep is that important!

For your time of not being active, you should consistently have one full day of limited activity.  Especially if you are aiming for high performance and/or completing 4-5 high-intensity workouts per week (majority of class WODs are definitely high-intensity training!), you should be taking 1 full rest day!

Tips for Resting better

When it comes to achieving a full, restful night of sleep try to improve your sleep hygiene.  This includes:

  • Limit screen time 2-hours before bedtime (the less blue-light from screens, the better).
  • Set a bedtime routine to tell your mind and body it’s time for sleep…reading, light stretching, face washing and teeth brushing, deep breathing ect will all start to trigger a sleepy-hormone release.
  • Make your room a sleep sanctuary: pitch black, cool, fresh air, quiet or white-noise.
  • Waking up, try to use soft-light to pull you out of sleep instead of an abrupt alarm sound.  You can get a light-up alarm clock if you can’t use the natural sunlight.
  • In the morning, get out of bed as soon as you wake and fill your rooms with natural light to help your circadian rhythm boost your energy levels!
  • Avoid caffeine after noon and limit alcohol before bed, both can mess up sleep rhythms.

Taking a day completely off sounds easy, but it can be hard to not feel lazy, anxious or guilty for taking a break.  Here’s some ways to cope:

  • Understand that taking a day off will not make you lazy, fat or a failure.  You will not lose any of your progress.  In fact, you will see even better gains in the long run if you regularly take that break!
  • Find other hobbies outside of exercising to keep your mind stimulated and feeling productive and accomplished;  start a book, do some crafts, try cooking a new recipe, grab a coffee with a friend to catch up.
  • Do some internal assessment and evaluation…if you find that you absolutely cannot skip a workout day, perhaps your workout routine isn’t all that healthy.  If you do not have a healthy relationship with resting, you probably don’t have a healthy relationship with working out either.  Take some time to dig deep about what might be going on mentally and emotionally; talk to someone or journal it out.


As mentioned above, there is a list of items that are categorized as Recovery.  Each aspect will require different amounts/time and will vary for each person depending on their starting point and goals, but below I’ll list out a few recommendations.

Regardless, if you are taking 1 full day of REST you should also be taking 1 full, separate day of RECOVERY as well.  That means 5 days of exercise in a week, 1 day of rest and 1 day of recovery…you can also add bits and pieces of recovery throughout your training week as well for best results.

Nutrition & Hydration

How much do you need?

For a daily caloric intake, each person will vary individually.  There are lots of resources to calculate this number, but nothing will be as accurate as what a personalized nutrition coach who really knows you can provide!  Make the investment for yourself by scheduling a nutrition consultation with our in-house Coach!

Aim to drink half your bodyweight in ounces every day.  Drink water plus add electrolytes to at least 1-2 of your drink servings per day, and more if you have been sweating.  Avoid sugary sports-drinks (unless utilizing them pre/post workout for carbohydrates & electrolytes).  Aim to limit alcohol intake, this will negatively impact your recovery.

Tips for Nutrition & Hydration:

  • Eat real foods, balanced meals, minimal processed items and majority home-cooked meals to put it short and simple.
  • Invest in a Nutrition Coach, it will pay off.
  • Be mindful about what is going into your body, check nutrition labels, and track your daily intake if you can!
  • Always carry a water bottle with you.
  • Make your water tastier by flavoring it, have a few cups of sparkling water or add BCAA’s.

Body Work: Mobility, Massage, Posture

How much do you need?

On your Recovery day (reminder: this is different from your REST day), you should aim to spend 30-60 minutes of very, very low intensity mobility and posture work.  You should hardly sweat and your heart rate should stay low.  However, implementing Recovery practices consistently throughout your training week will have the best, positive impact on your health and performance!

For posture work, this can be something you pay attention to all day, every day for the best results!

Tips for Body Work:

  • Consistency is key for whichever option you choose!
  • Spend some time with a massage therapist or chiropractor: my favorites are TherapyAsRX for full body massage, recovery and reversing movement limitations and Achieve Chiropractic for soft-tissue and manipulations.
  • Ask your coach or body-work specialist for homework.  They will know the best mobility practices you should be implementing.
  • Utilize our Yoga Room upstairs at the gym to follow along on ROMWOD for some guided mobility.
  • Buy a foam roller to have at home for easy and convenient soft-tissue work while you watch TV.
  • Try to limit sitting throughout your work day by setting up a standing-desk (even easier now that most of us are working at home!).
  • When you are sitting, bring attention to your posture often to fix any slouching or leaning.  Use a ball or roller to support your back if you don’t have an ergonomic chair to use.

Muscles: Heat, Ice, Compression

How much do you need?

Depending on the condition of your muscles and joints, the amount of heat, ice or compression will vary.

Heat will promote blood flow, this means flushing in nutrients, clearing out waste and loosening up the area.  Ice will limit blood flow which will reduce inflammation and decrease pain.   There is a time for each one, however the best results seem to come from a combination of the two!

Compression should only be applied for a few minutes at a time.  By tightly wrapping an area with a Floss band, blood flow will be restricted and inflammation reduced.  Once the band is removed, the area will be flushed with fresh blood full of oxygen and nutrients for the area and waste will be cleared out.

Tips for Treating Muscles:

  • Alternate Ice & Heat in the following pattern: always start with ice, start out with 1-2 minutes in ice, then follow with 1-2 minutes in heat, then always finish with ice for another 1-2 minutes.  You can increase your time to 4 minutes then 5 minutes and so on in each as you adapt to this recovery tactic.
  • Purchase a Floss band to wrap any sore/achy muscles before your workouts.
  • CBD creams and treatments have become a popular way to reduce pain and inflammation and promote muscular recovery as well!

Mentality: Stress management, meditation

How much do you need?

This is another one that will be very individual.  If you tend to be an anxious, high-stress person or if your job and daily life causes a lot of stress you should aim to practice more often than others.  However, everyone can benefit from some type of mindful stress management and meditation practice!

I would recommend to try to get 5 minutes a day (at least once, but the more frequently in a day the better) of mindful breathing, sitting quietly, or whatever form of stress-management works best for you!

Tips for Improving Mentality:

  • Read some books about building mindset.  A few of my favorites are The Champion’s Mind by Jim Afremow, Rising Strong by Brene Brown, Mindset by Carol Dweck.
  • Practice meditation: consistently devote a few minutes each day or a longer session on Recovery days.
  • Set an alarm on your phone to remind you to take a pause and practice some deep breathing with your eyes closed.  Also, set a timer on your phone for start to finish of this practice…no peeking until your phone buzzes!


Now that you know, prioritize your REST days and your RECOVERY days, implement a little of each even on your training days, and watch your workout performance, health and wellness boost!