The Perfect 15-Minute Mobility Routine for Rest Days

It may sound counterintuitive, but if you want to maximize your potential in the gym — and avoid injury — you shouldn't exercise at full beast mode every day. In fact, taking some time to pump the brakes each week is just as vital to fitness gains as flooring the gas.

Even on your rest days, your joints need movement.
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"Hard workouts place a lot of stress on your body," says Geoff Tripp, CSCS, certified personal trainer and head of fitness at Trainiac. "A rest and recovery day is like hitting a reset." Essentially, to see real results, you need to give your body a break to recuperate and learn to adapt to future stress.

But that doesn't mean you should become a couch potato on rest days. Instead of coming to a full stop, just slow things down with a gentle active recovery routine. According to Tripp, every person's rest day workout will look different depending on their fitness level and goals, but what's most important is that "your active recovery sessions feel easy and leave you refreshed and ready to tackle your next real workout day."

"Your active recovery days could be light cardio to get your heart rate up and your muscles warm, or some deep breathing, or a mobility and movement circuit (like the one below)," Tripp says.

Though doing a mobility routine isn't your only option, it's a particularly effective use of your rest day. "Mobility drills get you moving just enough to circulate fresh blood throughout your body and warm tissues up gradually, which really helps decrease inflammation in the tissue and speed the recovery process," Tripp says.

Read more: 9 Moves You Can Do Every Day for Better Joint Mobility

15-Minute Mobility Routine for Rest Days

Ready to press the reset button? This full-body, time-based circuit was designed by Tripp to improve blood flow, improve mobility and decrease soreness. Pair this routine with a light 20-minute walk for the ultimate recovery.

Do: Each move for 30 seconds. Keep your stretching at a comfortable range of motion and make sure all your movements are slow and controlled.

Move 1: Cat-Cow Pose

Here's proper form for the Cat portion of Cat-Cow pose.
Image Credit: Geoff Tripp/Trainiac
  1. Start on your hands and knees.

  2. Bring your wrists directly under your shoulders and knees under your hips.

  3. With an inhale, arch your back, reaching your head and tailbone toward the sky. Let your belly drop toward the floor.

  4. With an exhale, round your spine, releasing your head and tailbone toward the floor.

  5. Continue to alternate these movements.

Move 2: Child's Pose (10 and 2)

Here's proper form for Child's pose (10 and 2).
Image Credit: Geoff Tripp/Trainiac
  1. Start on your hands and knees.
  2. Drop your hips back to your heels, then reach your arms forward.
  3. Breath to relieve tension, then walk your hands over to 10 o'clock, followed by 2 o'clock. Pause at each location to feel the stretch in your back and shoulders.

Move 3: Floor Angels

Here's proper form for floor angels.
Image Credit: Geoff Tripp/Trainiac
  1. Lie flat on your back, then walk your heels in toward your hips, bending your knees to 90 degrees.
  2. Keeping your back flat on the ground, slide your hands and arms above your head, reaching as high as you can. Try to keep your elbows and wrists in contact with the floor throughout the entire range of motion.
  3. Return to starting position and repeat.

Read more: How to Decide What to Do on Your Workout Rest Day

Move 4: T Spine Stretch

Here's proper form for the T spine stretch.
Image Credit: Geoff Tripp/Trainiac
  1. Kneel in front of a bench or couch.
  2. Place your elbows on the edge and lightly grasp your hands behind your head.
  3. Look down at the ground and keep pressure in your elbows as you press down, slightly arching and extending your back.

Move 5: High Elbow Chest Stretch

Here's proper form for the high elbow chest stretch.
Image Credit: Geoff Tripp/Trainiac
  1. Stand near a wall. Place one hand above your head on the wall, then slightly rotate your upper body away so you feel a stretch in the front of your shoulder and chest muscles.
  2. Repeat on the opposite side.

Move 6: Y, T, W

Here's proper form for the Y portion of Y, T, W mobility exercise.
Image Credit: Geoff Tripp/Trainiac
  1. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, then hinge at your hips, keeping your core pulled in so you don't over-arch your back.
  2. Keeping your arms straight and thumbs up, raise them above your head to form the letter Y, next move them laterally to form the letter T, then bend your elbows and pull down and back to make a W.
  3. Cycle through these movements slowly, focusing on engaging your back muscles.

Move 7: Resistance Band Pull-Apart

Here's proper form for resistance band pull-aparts.
Image Credit: Geoff Tripp/Trainiac
  1. Begin with your arms extended straight out in front of you, holding a resistance band with both hands.
  2. Move your hands out to the sides until the band reaches your chest.
  3. Squeeze your shoulder blades, pause for a moment, then slowly return to the starting position.

Move 8: Figure 4 Stretch

Here's proper form for the figure 4 stretch.
Image Credit: Geoff Tripp/Trainiac
  1. Lie on your back.
  2. Cross you right foot over your left thigh and bend your left knee.
  3. Pull the back of your left leg gently toward your chest.
  4. When you feel a comfortable stretch, hold for 30 seconds.
  5. Switch sides and repeat.

Read more: 7 Dynamic Stretches to Improve Hip Mobility

Move 9: Kneeling Quad Stretch With Twist

Here's proper form for the kneeling quad stretch with twist.
Image Credit: Geoff Tripp/Trainiac
  1. Kneel on your left knee (placing a pad or pillow beneath you for more comfort) with your right foot planted flat in front of you.
  2. Grab your back (left) foot with your right hand and pull it in toward your butt as you slowly twist toward your right knee.
  3. Switch sides and repeat.

Move 10: Standing Hurdlers Stretch

Here's proper form for the standing hurdlers stretch.
Image Credit: Geoff Tripp/Trainiac
  1. Place your right foot on a bench or couch.
  2. Keeping both legs straight and your hips square to the front, slowly bend from your waist to feel a stretch in your right hamstring.
  3. Breath and switch sides.

Move 11: Lateral Squat Stretch

Here's proper form for the lateral squat stretch.
Image Credit: Geoff Tripp/Trainiac
  1. Stand with both feet wide and toes pointed straight ahead.
  2. Slowly hinge your hips back and slide them to the right as you bend your right knee, keeping your weight in your heels and your opposite leg straight.
  3. You should feel a stretch in your left inner thigh.
  4. Switch sides and repeat.

Move 12: Sumo Squat Active Mobility

Here's proper form for sumo squat active mobility.
Image Credit: Geoff Tripp/Trainiac
  1. Stand in a slightly wide squat stance with your feet pointed straight ahead.
  2. Slowly hinge at your hips and drop into a squat as you reach down to grab your toes. Keep your arms inside your knees and your back flat and look straight ahead at the bottom of the movement.
  3. Push through your heels, driving your hips back up into standing position while you continue to hold onto your toes.

Move 13: Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift With Assistance

Here's proper form for a single-leg Romanian deadlift with assistance.
Image Credit: Geoff Tripp/Trainiac
  1. Stand next to a stable object to use as support for balance. Start with your right foot planted as your anchor leg.
  2. While keeping a slight bend in your right knee, raise your left leg straight behind your body as you hinge at the hips to bring your torso parallel to the floor. Think of moving your body in a seesaw motion: you hinge at the same rate that you lift the leg behind you.
  3. Your hips should stay square throughout the entire movement, avoiding the tendency to turn them out.
  4. Keep your back flat. At the bottom of the movement, your torso and left leg should be almost parallel to the floor.
  5. Keeping your core tight, push through your right heel to stand up straight and squeeze your butt. As you do, keep the left leg straight and bring it back toward the starting position.
  6. Switch sides and repeat.
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