Good weight training rest day activities
April 28, 2008 11:59 PM   Subscribe

WeightliftingFilter: Good Activities for rest days between working out?

I recently got back into the swing of working out, mostly by forcing myself to do *some* sort of exercise every single day for the last couple of weeks. This has been working really well (if we're measuring how well I'm sticking to it).

This has gradually morphed due to schedule reasons into a 4 day weight training workout (Sun,Mon,Thu,Fri) with the other days being relatively light (mostly cardio, like running up stairs for a few minutes, etc). Still, I know from experience that if I actually stop exercising on those days, I'm eventually going to start adding another rest day when I'm tired or busy or lazy, and then I'll be working out once every 2 weeks.


What are good rest-day activities that are actually beneficial in some manner, and don't mess up my main goal of adding muscle mass?

Side notes: Doing all of these workouts *at home* with dumbbells, a swiss ball and a mat. Have access to 6 stories of stairs, some street for running, and my apartment. No time or money for gym or exercises classes. If cardiac is suggested, bonus points for exercises that are kind to joints (my knees can be somewhat sensitive, but I'm hoping they will get stronger and more resistant to damage as this progreses).
posted by sirion to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Bodyweight conditioning exercises. These kind of exercises are sometimes called strength-endurance conditioning, and they bridge the gap between running and the kind of weightlifting it sounds like you're doing (heavy weights with plenty of rest between sets). These enable you to use the strength you're building for longer periods of time without rest.

If they tire you out so much that you're too fatigued to do your primary workout, you can just cut down the duration or bring down the level (if you start at a level higher than 1).
posted by ignignokt at 12:13 AM on April 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

Running, walking, light cardio.
posted by caddis at 1:03 AM on April 29, 2008

I vote yoga.
Besides all of the great stuff yoga does it will be great for good stretching to maintain flexibilty that lifting sometimes can take away.
posted by beccaj at 5:11 AM on April 29, 2008

2nding yoga. If you do it right you'll get a cardiovascular benefit and flexibility will help avoid injury.
posted by GPF at 5:44 AM on April 29, 2008

Oh, and although yoga classes are nifty, you could instead check out some books or videos from the library and practice at home.
posted by GPF at 5:45 AM on April 29, 2008

I'll 3rd yoga. My days as a competitive weightlifter really took a toll on my body. Yoga and yoga-ish flexibility work have made me feel much better.
posted by PFL at 7:23 AM on April 29, 2008

On your rest days, do what you *like* to do, whether it's volleyball, rock climbing, martial arts, wakeboarding, whatever... i.e., put all that weight training and conditioning to good/fun use. Unless you're a body-builder or pro athlete, it's not all about optimizing your training every day -- the whole point of the conditioning, IMO, is to help you enjoy your life. The side benefit of the other activities is that you'll work all those little fiddly muscles that you tend to miss with a focused weight workout.

For me, the weight/cardio conditioning becomes less of a goal unto itself and more of a support activity for whatever sport I'm into -- for example, if I'm into rock climbing, I'll work abs and upper body more. If I was into basketball, I'd focus more on calves, knee/ankle-injury prevention, and cardio.

BTW, if your knees are a problem, work on conditioning the muscles around the joint -- squats, leg extensions, and running stairs (ON YOUR TOES).
posted by LordSludge at 7:33 AM on April 29, 2008

The whole point of rest days is to free up your body's resources to repair the damage you do to muscles during a workout. If you sap the body's energy by doing intensive cardio, you won't grow as much.

If you're looking to cut weight / body fat % go ahead and do some cardio, but really I'd keep it quite light if you're trying to build new muscle. If you are concerned about losing the rhythm of your schedule, a brisk walk will work fine.
posted by spatula at 9:17 AM on April 29, 2008

4thing yoga. You can get videos and do it within the comfort of your own home. The best bit about yoga is it really strengthens your CORE. This will help you be able to lift even more, go even further, etc. It is (mostly) good for your joints (don't do anything that is painful) and improves flexibility.
posted by cachondeo45 at 11:26 AM on April 29, 2008

I recommend light, quick exercises that will counteract the "deadening" effect that weights can have on your body. Jumping rope, speed-walking, stair bounding, even a short aerobics class focusing on agility and speed.

Yoga is fine, but I consider it a more static activity. Be careful if you're doing it at home, without someone supervising your form.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 1:35 PM on April 29, 2008

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