I am going to help shed light on the topic of active recovery days. Many people will offer unsolicited arbitrary advice as to why you should take a rest day through the week but I am here to provide you with information on the principles that the Veneration program is built on in order to help you make educated decisions on how, why, and when to implement active recovery days. 

The short answer to the question “When should I take a rest day” is: You don’t NEED a rest day. 

In fact, the unnecessary implementation of this concept is likely one of the major factors holding you back from achieving your goals. You’re much better off scheduling an active recovery day on Sundays.

Most of you have a clear understanding of how we implement our program through familiarity with the Workout of the Day (WOD) that you experience with your coach in a private or group setting. What is likely less clear is the rationale behind the WOD or more specifically what motivates the specifics of our programming. 

We oftentimes refer to our program as “hardcore casual”; an optimal blend of all of the best aspects of fitness that provide you results. Our model allows for wide variance of mode, exercise, metabolic pathway, rest, intensity, sets and reps. In fact, it is mathematically likely that each 6 day cycle is a singularly unique stimulus never to be repeated in the lifetime of our program. 

Click here for an in depth breakdown of how our program is constructed. (It’s very thorough but if you’re interested, you’ll have a significantly greater understanding of “the why” to the Veneration program).

Through our coaching practice we are constantly encouraging new skill development, generating unique stressors, crossing modes, incorporating quality movements and hitting all three metabolic pathways.

With this format, our clients can effectively work at the prescribed intensities throughout the week but by Sunday both neuromuscular function and anatomy are fatigued to the point where continued work becomes noticeably less effective and impossible without reducing intensity, calling for an active recovery day. 

Active Recovery Days 

You understand by now that every workout you do here with your coach has a distinct purpose. There is no trace of randomness found in our program and the reason it’s important that you understand this is because you now know that all training sessions in our program will complement each other rather than working counterintuitively. You are not at risk of over training certain muscle groups or your body as a whole because each session throughout the week is built intentionally rather than sporadically.

Here are some best practices when it comes to your training and active recovery days:

  • Rather than taking a rest day mid-week, you should arrive at your session and communicate with your coach. We will help you scale and modify as necessary to ensure you are achieving the target stimulus and training properly. 
  • You’ll notice that we don’t refer to days outside of the gym as “rest days”. Rather, we refer to them as active recovery days. This is intentional and there is a difference. We feel that a rest day may imply that you should not be moving your body intentionally at all and this is certainly not the case. Whereas an active recovery day is the engagement of low intensity activity following strenuous training. Examples of active recovery include walking, hiking, rollerblading, swimming, and biking for 30-60 minutes. 

Here is some very bad advice passed around the fitness community that you should crumble up and throw in the garbage: 

  • “Take a rest day every other/every couple of days.” To be frank, this is terrible advice for a couple reasons. One, anyone offering advice on your training other than your coaches who are writing and conducting your program simply does not have the information and context required to make recommendations whatsoever. If they did, they would know that your program is designed to work optimally when executed 6 days per week. 

    Secondly, the constant starting and stopping of your training is creating a nearly impossible psychological equation for you to create momentum to establish a lasting habit. We’re going to talk more on this tomorrow (I’m really excited for this one!)
  • “If you’re sore, don’t come to your session with your coach. Do your own thing, make your own WOD, or just don’t do anything at all.” This is arguably the worst of the advice out there. Slapping together random lifting sessions and conditioning workouts effectively throws a wrench straight through the middle of the logical program your fitness is being built on when training with your coach. That is counterproductive and dangerous. 

    Come to your session and allow your coach to adjust your workout appropriately for how you are feeling. 95% of the time you’ll feel 10x better just a short 3 minutes into the warm up. If you are training for a specific goal, event, competition, etc. just take the time to meet with your coach for big picture adjustments. They will gladly help create necessary homework that works fits into your training plan if needed. Random workouts, blending of programs, or absence from your training session is never the answer. 
  • “If you’re tired, come to your workout and just go through the motions. It’ll be an active recovery day”. This was likely born from the phrase “just show up”, which happens to be great advice because that’s oftentimes 80% of the battle. But once you show up, it’s time to work. Furthermore, puting half effort into your thrusters and burpees is not active recovery – see above for how to properly actively recover. 
  • “Workout when you feel like it”. This was probably born from the phrase “listen to your body”, which was never intended to imply that when you are sore, tight or tired that you should snooze your alarm and skip your session entirely. Instead, listening to your body should be put into practice by communicating with your coach to scale and modify your session as we discussed above. 

    If we all just did our “workout when we feel like it”, there would be very little progress made, both physically and mentally. It’s important to know the incredible difference between being hurt and being injured. While we would of course prefer to be neither, being hurt is pretty common. 

    If I stub my toe it’s going to hurt, and you can count on seeing me in my session with my coach tomorrow. If my back is sore or tight from deadlifting it probably hurts and it’s likely because I need some work on my technique, and you can count on seeing me in my session with my coach tomorrow. If my knee or my shoulder is bothering me, I certainly have some work to do to improve whatever is causing the issue and you can count on seeing me in my session with my coach tomorrow. 

    Now, if I fracture my femur in a car accident I am probably going to miss my session tomorrow to go see a medical professional. But you can count on seeing me in my session the following day to work on my upper body strength because my coach will help me scale and modify appropriately. Life throws wrenches in the mix, it’s not a reason to press pause on prioritizing your health. It’s okay to be uncomfortable.

Action Steps 

Wow that was a lot of information. Now that you know how, why, and when to implement active recovery days when training in the Veneration program, let’s button this up and keep it very simple. 

Step 1) Put your training sessions and active recovery days on your calendar. 

Step 2) Show up – no excuses. 

Step 3) Put in the work

Step 4) Get results. 

If you have any questions please keep the conversation going by reaching out to your coaches, we’re here to help.

I’ll meet you back here tomorrow to talk about the best steps to creating a habit – you don’t want to miss it!

Stay safe and keep moving, 


Need some help? Talk to your coach or click here to book your New Member Consultation and start your journey today: https://crossfitveneration.uplaunch.com/join/1917