RIIXO Recovery

Active Recovery vs Resting [2021]

Active recovery Vs rest

After High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

For faster sports recovery after high intensity training session, try finishing your with a 15 minute low intensity run. 

To understand why read below.

What is HIIT?

  • HIIT sessions are short, fast and hard training sessions typically lasting around 30 minutes.
  • The concept of HIIT training revolves around alternating short bursts of high intensity training followed by low-intensity.
  • Exercise typically at a ratio of 3:1 on time (eg 45 seconds high, 15 seconds low).

What does HIIT do?

HIIT sessions are good for;

  • Reduction of fat mass over the whole body
  • Improving glucose metabolism and anaerobic capacity
  • (but are less effective at improving muscle and bone mass)

This short high-speed interval training causes the body to produce high levels of lactate (lactic acid). A by-product of the body’s glucose metabolism and the primary cause of muscle cramp. HIIT training helps build up the body’s tolerance to this.

Now the Science and how to recover faster in sport.

A study by Wiewelhove et al looked at active recovery compared with rest to determine which was better on over-all performance. They took 26 male subjects between the age of 21 and 25 of similar training ability. Each agreed to take part in the randomised controlled trial and were split into two groups.

They measured the subjects VO2 Max, lactate threshold and repeated sprint ability to establish a baseline for each subject. They then re-tested for consistency and any improvement.

Group 1. 

12 session running HIIT program

4 weeks

15 min seated rest at the end of the session.

Group 2

12 session running HIIT program

4 weeks

15 minute low intensity run at the end of each session


Notable improvements were found in the lactate threshold and repeated sprint ability for the subject group performing the 15min active recovery.

Overall neither of the groups showed excessive vo2 max improvement, (measure of aerobic capacity), when compared to each other.

Although the study could be strengthened by increasing the sample group in size and genders, the results were still very positive and shows there is scope for further research.

In conclusion and why this helps speed up sports recovery.

For faster sports recovery after high intensity training session, try finishing your with a 15 minute low intensity run.

Wiewelhove et al (2018) found that active recovery for 15 minutes immediately after high intensity session “may activate specific adaptive mechanisms” helping speed up muscle recovery and the body’s ability to process lactic acid.

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        1. The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties
        2. The ability to recover readily from adversity.

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  1. Wiewelhove T, Schneider C, Schmidt A, Döweling A, Meyer T, Kellmann M, Pfeiffer M, Ferrauti A. 2018. Active Recovery After High-Intensity Interval-Training Does Not Attenuate Training Adaptation. Front Physio. 18;9:415. doi:10.3389/fphys.2018.00415.
  2. DOHIIT. Retrieved 2017. HIIT FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions about High-Intensity Interval Training). 
  3. Laursen PB, Jenkins DG (2002). The Scientific Basis for High-Intensity Interval Training. Sports Medicine(Review). 32 (1): 53–73. doi:10.2165/00007256-200232010-00003. PMID 11772161.

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