What should I do at the gym on days I’m not lifting?
April 19, 2018 5:31 AM   Subscribe

After reading about it on AskMe, I’ve recently started StrongLifts. I lift on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. But I like my daily routine of running to the gym, doing something there, then running home. What should I do at the gym on days I’m not doing StrongLifts?
posted by ocherdraco to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Yoga/pilates to maintain flexibility and balance while you get strong!
posted by Ausamor at 5:52 AM on April 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

I'd say that you want to do stuff that promotes active recovery - which is to say, stuff that is not particularly strenuous, and works other systems than what you're focusing on during your MWF sessions.

Agree about yoga/pilates; or other unweighted core work, or light aerobic work. Key here is letting MWF be your hard days, and your T/Th being days that definitely don't exhaust you.
posted by entropone at 6:02 AM on April 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

There are lots of complimentary lifts to the basic compounds that StrongLifts focuses on - things like RDLs, barbell rows, lunges, thrusters, overhead pressing, arm accessory work, core work, met con stuff like burpees, etc.

The key is - days in between your heavy lift days should be at a perceived exertion (i.e., how hard you feel it is) of no more than 5-6/10. The last thing you want to do is have your accessory work days taxing you out from being able to progress on your major lifts as that's the whole point of doing that program. Ideally, whatever you do in between makes you feel better for your next workout and not worse.
posted by notorious medium at 6:12 AM on April 19, 2018 [2 favorites]

You have probably already heard this if you've read the old threads about StrongLifts but one of the hardest things to appreciate at the beginning is how much the program changes, qualitatively, when you finally get to the point where you're really pushing yourself. Forums are filled with people in the early weeks asking your question, and people in later weeks saying REST.

I now have been both of those people! When I started I would run a couple miles on lifting days and run or swim pretty far on off days. Now that I'm squatting and deadlifting > 200lbs (about 15 weeks in) those auxiliary exercises could not be farther from my mind. This is not, exactly, meant to say "don't do it," but more to be aware that whatever you do in the first month or so will almost certainly need to evolve. Most of the serious advice online about auxiliary exercise is by and for people who have reached "steady state" after many months.
posted by range at 6:35 AM on April 19, 2018 [8 favorites]

Just nthing everyone about flexibility, mobility, etc. Once you get into lifting really heavy weights, good form and smooth motion is going to get super important not just for getting stronger but also staying safe. Yoga was a good suggestion and you can also pick up some tai chi (I learned off youtube) to practice smooth flowing motion.

Also if you know that you have a particular thing that makes certain kinds of lifts more difficult than they should be you can focus on that. Recently I've been doing a lot of mobility exercises with my shoulder because one of my scapula has been bugging the hell out of me during bench and overhead presses. Other times it's my knee so I do a bunch of careful unweighted squats. So you don't need to have a fixed routine for the day off; just listen to what your body is doing when you're lifting and work to compensate for any issues you feel come up when you're not.
posted by griphus at 6:37 AM on April 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

Sit in the jacuzzi/use the steam room?
posted by kelseyq at 10:24 AM on April 19, 2018

First, I want to reiterate what range so eloquently said above. The first few weeks, maybe up to a couple months, often feel "too easy" and you have enough energy left on scheduled rest days to do all sorts of rigorous sport or lifting or cardio. Then you turn a corner and you need those rest days to rest.

However, a daily gym habit is something to cherish, so it's a good idea to find activities that can wax and wane with your energy levels and recovery needs. Walking is always a good idea, even (especially?) when quite sore and tired. If you have control over your own routine instead of following an instructor, yoga can be as rigorous or as relaxing as it needs to be by switching from repeated sun salutations and several-minute lunges to passive holds like plow and headstands. It would also be a good idea to develop a half-hour stretching and mobility routine. If you feel you have the energy, do some bodyweight exercises that you don't do in SL: pull-ups, dips, lunges, dand pushups, Cossack squats.

Leave room, too, to walk rather than run to and from the gym on the day after a particularly grueling workout, and just take a sauna or hot shower, stretch, or at the most do a few warm-up sets with just the bar.
posted by daveliepmann at 12:21 PM on April 19, 2018

just a note:

u train thrice weekly? u train hard eventually. plz eat lots of protein
liek lots, like minimum 0.6g/lb bodyweight per day
so you can get gainz (not necessarily vast mass, but you need to build muskles)

also: dont be cutting; as a noob minimum your caloric intake should be up by a couple of hundred per day, every day. once you get strong, you can start to cut.

(everyone is right about rest too!)
posted by lalochezia at 7:52 PM on April 19, 2018 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thank you, everyone!
posted by ocherdraco at 9:05 PM on April 21, 2018

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