What To Do On Training And Exercise Rest Days?

by Caleb Lee on October 18, 2008

Got this email from a subscriber recently:


First of all, thanks for all your advice. It definitely has helped.

In high school, I ran cross country and I was pretty skinny. I didn’t run as much in college. I’m not fat, but I have about 10-15% body fat that I haven’t been able to get rid of since I put it on. I’ve tried running and running like I did in high school, and it won’t come off. I read your advice about aerobic cardio and I looked around my gym… and realized you’re right. Every single person that I regularly see at my gym doing 45+ minutes of cardio religiously is FAT and have been for years. So, hard as it was, I stopped running long runs and started doing intervals like you recommended. Now, I have more time to do full body work outs instead of working one muscle group per day. And, contrary to what I used to think, I didn’t get fat. In fact, after 10 days, I feel better than before. I don’t feel like falling over the rest of the day like I used to and I sleep a lot better. And, I’ve actually lost weight and I can do more pull-ups and squats than before.

I do weights and intervals Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. My question is what do I do on my off-days? I have a hard time just doing nothing. Any suggestions?

Thanks again for all your help.

– T.”

Thanks for the question T. Here’s some suggestions on what to do on your training and exercise rest days:

Recovery Exercises and Activities

You can do certain activities with the goal of active recovery:

  • Moderate Low Intensity Cardio – no more than 20 minutes of low intensity cardio (if you enjoy it!)
  • Yoga – is awesome. I love it. Cute chicks. Stretching feels great. What’s not to like?
  • Sauna or hot tub – along with some stretching.
  • Stretching – by itself is a great form of active recovery.

Do Active Things You Enjoy

  • Sports – basketball, soccer, etc are great things to do on your days off
  • Walk – take an easy walk around the neighborhood, walk some dogs, etc.
  • Martial Arts – are great for all around health, fun, and you learn to defend yourself.
  • Swimming – fun, good for active recovery, can take the whole family.
  • Hiking – and other outdoors stuff.

Lifestyle stuff on “rest days”

If you notice all these things are fun lifestyle activities that people (even people who don’t work out) enjoy regularly. That’s the point. Make your rest days fun stuff you enjoy… and with the secondary goal of 1.) activities that help recovery or 2.) give you some exercise but address different energy systems (ie. your strength training workouts work anaerobic energy systems and maximum strength… hiking is more of an aerobic activity).

So there you go: you now know what to do on training and exercise rest days.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

John October 25, 2008 at 10:32 pm

Thanks for response the BW rungs workout is done 3 days weekly?
Can I add rungs say going to 10 in order to build more muscle?
What is the max reps on pushups nad bw squats for muscle gain?
Off/rest days I practice Kenpo for an hour.


Caleb Lee October 27, 2008 at 6:27 pm

@ John: Yeah you can do it 3 days alternated. And yes you can add rungs to the ladder.

I’ll also be doing some articles in the future on unilateral training (one leg or one arm) exercises like the bodyweight pistol and one arm pushup, etc — to make bodyweight training harder.

Really there’s no limit to how many reps you can keep adding and keep building muscle, keep the rest periods between “rungs” no-existant or very little and eat a lot/clean and you’ll build muscle.


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