What Should You Do On Your Day Off From The Gym?

Outside of personal training sessions at the studio, we recommend that clients perform cardio or take rest days. Read on for a couple more ideas on what to do on your days off from the gym.

Brunette woman in yoga pants stretching her back and hips

At the studio, we write full-body workouts that small group personal training clients perform 2-3 times per week. If you can't make the commute to the gym all the time but still want to make progress, that's a great place to be.

The scientific literature on strength training differs but supports:

  • Exercising each muscle group 2+ times per week.
  • Weekly volume or amount of exercise starting around 10-20 sets per muscle per week.
  • Training intensities and weights vary depending on your goals.
  • You'll build more muscular strength and power in the 1-6 rep range.
  • You can build muscle at any rep range (1-6, 6-15, and 15+ reps), as long as you're falling about 2-5 reps from failure.
  • Rest times vary depending on the goal. If you're going heavy, take 2-5 minutes. If you're trying to get into better shape, rest as long as you need but, as short as possible.

All of that is great information and explains why you see so many different programs on the internet, all seemingly capable of producing results. That helps explain some of the rationale for what you should do outside of the gym but, not all of the possibilities.

Between your sessions, you have quite a few options that you'll find below.

Go To A Big Box Gym In Columbia On Your Own

Try performing an additional workout. This is good for someone comfortable working out at the gym, though maybe at a time that needs more flexibility than scheduled personal training would allow.

For our studio clients who come twice per week, this could mean completing the third workout we provide. You can also try exercises that you want to work on.

For example:

Doing more exercise can help you get in better shape by increasing your training frequency and volume.

Another option for increasing your confidence is repeating a full-body workout you did earlier in the week with 10-15% less weight. Since you're performing exercises you did earlier in the week, you should feel relatively comfortable performing them on your own. Using less weight will allow you to add in some exercise that is not as fatiguing as your first session, and you know you should be able to lift the weight. A side benefit to repeating a workout is that you'll be close to a range where you were in your last session. That's useful if you're training for a specific training adaptation or performance-specific goal.

Walk Or Perform Some Light To Moderate Cardio

Depending on your routine, you may or may not perform cardio every time you go to the gym. At our studio, we focus on strength training exercises that most clients don't feel comfortable doing on their own. This means we're lighter on cardio and energy system development work.

That doesn't mean that cardio isn't vital, in fact skipping cardio can hold you back from making gains. If you notice that your rest times are a bit longer than you would like or that you have trouble finishing your workouts, it might be a sign that your cardiovascular performance needs attention.

Perform Dynamic Mobility Exercises And Static Stretches

Light exercise or active recovery helps promote additional blood flow to your joints, muscles, and other connective tissues. This is important from a health and wellness perspective. You've likely heard the saying, "If you don't use it, you'll lose it" - it's true for your strength, mobility, and flexibility.

Movement for your joints is like applying lotion to your skin. Your joints don't have the same direct blood and nutrient supplies as some of the other tissues in your body. When you apply pressure to them by moving, you help keep them healthy.

What Exercise Can Be Done From Home Without Equipment?

When you can't go to the gym, a good at-home workout routine works.

Does outdoor work count as exercise? Yes! Gardening involves a lot of bending, twisting, pushing, pulling, and carrying.

In the gym, you perform exercises that match up with these patterns;

Does walking around the house count as exercise? Absolutely. In the fitness world, we call this NEAT or nonexercise activity thermogenesis. Your body uses energy when you move around throughout the day. At lower intensities, this wouldn't count as "fitness" or formal exercise but, the movement still helps.

If you're looking for some trails to explore, check out this article on outdoor places I frequently visit in Columbia.

Take a Rest Day

Resting or removing training stress is just as important as working out. To get in better shape, you need to learn to balance fitness and fatigue. Increasing your level of fitness comes from working out. The adaptations your body makes to increase fitness come when you rest.

Managing your levels of fatigue comes in many ways including:

  • Spacing your workouts out appropriately from each other.
  • Take adequate rest between sets so you can push yourself during them.
  • Deloads when needed or planned weeks of reducing your training stressors.
  • Entire days off from the gym.

Like surfing, your balance between fitness and fatigue will change, as will your goals and motivations. When you get in better shape, you work out harder, meaning you can cause more damage to your body in every session. More damage requires more attention to how you rest. Every athlete has an offseason for a reason.

During times of high stress, give yourself more breaks and maybe think about working out twice a week or taking a walk on one of your days off. You can always increase your training stress in the future when your plate isn't as full.

Find out more about what you should do in and outside of the gym

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Phone: 1-573-443-1495

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Steven Mack is founder and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist at the private training studio, Simple Solutions Fitness. He consults for Stronger by Science, a leader in fitness research dissemination, and is a former Mizzou football walk-on. Steven dedicates his professional life to helping people through his writing, speaking, and role as a personal trainer.