Passive Recovery for Training

woman sitting peacefully

Ideally, recovery happens before an injury not just after. It’s part of the preventative mindset. After talking with a past client recently about struggling with adrenal fatigue, I was inspired to attend a Recovery Adaptations workshop lead by Dr. James Hoffman, and I am excited to share some of what I walked away with.

There’s far more to an effective training program than exercise alone, but that is not easily recognized by many clients. In fact, most think their training program consists solely of logging beast mode workouts day-in and day-out.

While hitting it hard may feel like it’s the most important component, the truth is it is only a small piece of the puzzle.

A holistic approach to training means there are a number of factors that greatly contribute to weight loss, muscle gains, and improving overall fitness.

Most people know they need to eat healthfully, drink plenty of water, and get sleep, but it’s worth discussing passive and active recovery strategies with your clients so they see results in their workouts and from their training program.

Passive Recovery Strategies

Passive recovery includes sleep, relaxation, and stress management. These are crucial in recovery pecking order.

woman sitting peacefully

Sleep Routine

Sleep is a no-brainer, but how much? How often? Does 5 hours per night and a long nap during the day suffice?

Depending on exercise intensity and fatigue, research indicates 6-10 hours of sleep per night are ideal. Athletes perform at their best when they consistently get adequate sleep, so setting a sleep routine of going to bed and waking up at the same times habitually are paramount.

Winding Down

Creating a pre-sleep routine can lead to more restful, quality sleep. That means no screen time for at least an hour.

Find a helpful habit that transitions you to sleep. That may include reading a book, stretching or myofascial release, meditating, or even taking a dip in the hot tub.

Nap Time

Naps are not a sufficient way to compensate for a lack of sleep but can be refreshing. Keep to 15-30 minutes or you risk feeling groggy and less motivated in addition to potentially affecting your sleep pattern later that night.

Managing Stress

Stress management is the tricky element here because, for many clients, their workout routine is how they de-stress from the pressures of their personal and professional lives.

That being said, exercise is a stressor, and it requires management just as all the others do. Some of the wind-down activities before bed mentioned above can do double duty here.

Recovery Nutrition

Healthy eating is not only vague, but it isn’t helpful in guiding clients toward their fitness goals.

One way to direct clients in their nutritional choices is to have them start logging what they eat and taking body composition measurements. Identifying calories in and macro-nutrients is a manageable approach. My clients and I are avid fans of the MyFitnessPal app.

Some trainers and sports nutritionists argue that nutrient timing is relative as well. I find that eating several small meals throughout the day prevents me from getting hangry and properly fuels me for my training sessions.

Ideally, the body’s nutrition and hydration needs will be satisfied with real foods rather than supplements.

Stay tuned for a discussion about active recovery approaches next month, and in the meantime, please share your passive recovery tips on our Facebook page.


Theresa Perales has an MA in Spanish, and is an ESL teacher at San Diego State University (SDSU). After years of struggling with her weight, she decided to give exercise a try. A passion for health and fitness grew instantly and inspired her to become certified as a personal trainer with NFPT, and as a group fitness instructor with AFAA Group Fitness and Madd Dog Athletics® Spinning. Theresa believes that nutrition and fitness are not about aesthetics but ultimately about feeling healthy and empowered.
Get 35% off certification packages

Celebrating 35 years

We’re celebrating 35 years with 35% off!

Our biggest discount EVER!

Get 35% off certification packages.