Doing crazy-hard workouts is all fine and good to impress your skinny buddy you brought along to boost your ego, but remember there can be no supercompensation – yielding greater size, strength, and overall increased performance – without recovery.
Some of the best lifters use active rest workouts to manage recovery and keep themselves in the game longer. These are non-strenuous workouts used to increase recovery, usually done the day after an intense workout.
Recovery workouts should involve muscle groups that are hit hard the previous day. If used in moderation, these workouts help heal a battered body faster, restore muscle function by increasing blood flow, and help reduce delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS). All of this makes hard sessions less debilitating. If you had a hard squat workout the day before, a light walking sled drag would be a suitable workout.
A Few Ways To Do It
Going through a dynamic warm-up increases blood flow to muscles by using some weight-bearing positions that also allow for a stretch. The type of warm-up used should be dependent on whether you're recovering from a lower or upper body workout.
Short, low intensity workouts with higher volume
This involves going through a light workout using the same muscles with low intensity and higher reps but not many sets. So to recover from a heavy bench press workout, do a couple of sets of 135 pounds for 10 reps. These workouts should last 30 minutes or less.
Hiking is a low-intensity active rest technique. The constant change in slope makes it a great stimulus on the legs while still being low intensity enough to allow and enhance recovery.
Strongman training is a great active restoration technique if used with low intensity and low volume. I've found that using 50-60% of the weight that you'd normally do for building strength is a good rule when using this method for recovery. Just remember that upper body strongman drills should be used when trying to recover from a hard upper body workout.