What Should I Do On My Off Days?
We get this question all the time here at Burg Fitness. Since we advise most people to train 3-4 days per week with full body & strength training routines, many Clients have a few off days each week.
When you complete a full body workout routine, or do lots of compound movements like squats, push-ups, overhead presses or deadlifts, our muscles get broken down. Then, over the next 24-48 hours hours, those muscles get rebuilt a tiny bit stronger. That’s why it doesn’t benefit us to work out every day; we don’t want to destroy our muscles without giving them a chance to grow back stronger.
That then begs the question: what are we supposed to do on those days? How can we keep up the habit of exercise and not let a day of non-training derail our progress?
Are there things we CAN do on our off days? That’s why I’m here, my dear #NoLimits friends - and the answer is a resounding YES!
Plan Your Off Days Like a Training Day
The biggest problem most people have with off days is that they become cheat days! Because they’re not training, they’re not thinking about being fit and it’s much easier to slack off and lose momentum.
This is bad news.
Remember, exercise is probably 10-20% of the equation: how we eat and rest is the other 80-90%!
So plan your off days deliberately! They’re not off days, they’re rest days, and they serve a vital role in building an antifragile kickass body capable of climbing daily mountains, fighting crime (or roughhousing with your kids in the backyard).
Whether it’s scheduling one of the activities below at the same time you normally train every day, or deliberately adding a morning mobility/stretching routine to your day, doing SOMETHING every day is a great way to remind ourselves “I am changing my life and I exercise daily.”
Personally, I know I am far less likely to eat poorly when I’m doing some active recovery than when I’m not doing anything deliberately. On days when I’m not training, I try to block off a similar amount of time to work on myself in some way to maintain momentum, and I encourage you to do the same if you struggle with losing momentum if even taking one day off.
It could be flexibility training, mobility training, meal prep, and more. I’ll cover these below! Whatever it is, do SOMETHING every day, even if it’s for just five minutes, to remind yourself that you are making progress towards your new life goals.
Let’s dive in to your off-day options!
We’ve all felt that soreness the day after (or two days after) training at Burg – our muscles have been broken down and are incredibly tight from lifting and other functional movements.
For that reason, one of the best things you can do on an off day is to work on your flexibility and mobility. After all, what good is strength if we can’t move our body properly to utilize it! Dynamic stretching and mobility work helps prepare our body for the rigors of strength training and keeps us injury free!
Regardless of whether or not you have a training day scheduled, start each morning with a mobility warm-up: a series of dynamic movements that gets your body activated and wakes up your muscles, joints, and tendons. If you live in an apartment or are just getting started, feel free to leave out the jumping jacks:
Try any of these out:
- 2-3 minutes Jump Rope
- 50 Jumping Jacks
- 20 Air Squats
- 10 Lunges (5L/5R)
- 10 Hip Extensions
- 10 Knee curls each leg (5L/5R)
- 20 Straight-leg swings (5L/5R)
- 20 Side leg swings (5L/5R)
- 10-20 Push ups
- 20 Spideys (10L/10R)
Do a Fun Activity
We are genetically designed to move, not sit on our asses for 60+ hours a week. Not only that, but we are genetically designed to have fun doing so too! Which means we can spend time on our off days working on our happiness AND stay active at the same time.
This fun activity can mean something different for everybody:
- Go for a bike ride
- Go for a run around your neighborhood
- Play kickball in a city league
- Play softball
- Go for a walk with your significant other
- Go rock climbing
- Take a dance class
- Roll down a hill and run back up it
I honestly don’t care WHAT you do, as long as it’s something you truly enjoy doing – it puts a smile on your face, it gets your heart pumping. Exercise does not need to be exhausting or miserable. If you haven’t found an activity you enjoy yet, you haven’t tried enough new things. The point is to get outside, remember it’s a damn good day to be alive, and that we are built to move.
Intervals, Sprints, Or Walking
“But, I really am trying to lose as much weight as possible.”
Okay okay, I hear you – if that’s the case, then 90% of the battle is going to be with your diet, but there are SOME things you can do on your off days that can help you burn more calories:
1) Interval Training – In interval training, you’ll be varying your running pace. This means you may switch between jogging and walking, or walking and sprinting (there are few different methods of interval training). This training style can help speed up your metabolism for the hours after you finish.
2) Sprinting – If you like the idea of burning extra calories and building explosive power and speed, find a hill, sprint up it, walk down, and repeat the process for 10-20 minutes. No need to overthink it!
3) Long walks – Walking is a low-impact activity that burns extra calories and doesn’t overly tax your body. What a “long walk” will be is different for everybody based on their level of fitness, but walking is one of the best things you can do for yourself!
If you want to take a more active recovery day, the most important thing is to listen to your body. Destroying ourselves for 6+ days a week can really wear us down, causing long term problems if we’re not careful.
Now get out there and have some fun on your off days!