Off Day Workout Options
Joel Younkins & Caitlin Glenn
Your training should be hard, and you should be spending time recovering from it while you’re not in the gym. With recovering and looking to make progress in certain areas of your fitness goals, there are some extra options that are viable for “extra work.” These methods will also help promote recovery from your primary training program. You will see below, these are not set programs to follow, but instead parameters based on each individual fitness levels, their time management, need for recovery and fitness goals.
Whether your goal is to burn more body fat, improve your aerobic fitness, or even both, these two methods below will help increase extra aerobic volume to your weekly training program. Both methods are highly effective for improving both fitness goals, but more importantly they will not heavily interfere with your recovery from the previous day(s) of training. And in all actuality, if done with lower training volumes (amount of total work) they will actually enhance recovery!
With the use of any extra work you are doing, always start on the lower side of training volume and see how you respond. Meaning the amount of days per week, how long each session is, and the amount of work performed. As you adapt, you can add in more volume later when you’re ready for it.
Method #1: LSD (Long Slow Distance)
This is a great way to improve aerobic capacity and increase additional fat loss work to your program. You can pick a variety of means of exercise to perform this as long as it’s continuous and you maintain a state of movement that WILL NOT make you feel muscle burn or exhaustion. It should be aerobic in nature, meaning using oxygen as our main source of energy. Your heart rate should increase and perhaps break a light sweat.
Frequency: 2-3 times a week
Duration: 20-60 minutes per session
Sets: 1-5 sets per session
Intensity: Heart Rate: 120-150 bpm
Means: Walking (Incline or Weight Vest), Jogging, Bike, Rower, Elliptical, Variation of Body Weight Exercises performed as a circuit
Method #2: Tempo Intervals
When most people think of interval training, they are thinking of HIIT or very grueling intervals that make you hurt when you are done. These intense sessions can be good for burning off excess calories to help reduce fat, but they can easily be counterproductive to recovery of your current training that you are already doing. Instead, welcome to the world of low intensity tempo intervals, designed by the late track and field coach Charlie Francis. These intervals are a great alternative to high intensity intervals that will still give you a great Conditioning, Fat Loss, and Recovery effect. These can be served as extra conditioning or simply as recovery work to promote blood flow.
Frequency: 2-4 times a week
Duration: 8-20 minutes per set
Sets: 2-3 sets per workout
Intensity: 20 seconds on @75% effort, 40 seconds active recovery (Ex: Cycling for 20 seconds @75% effort, then pedaling slowly for the remaining 40 seconds then continue after the minute)
Means: Run/Walk Combination, Cycling, Elliptical, Rower
Strength through the posterior chain is vital for explosive strength, stabilization of the spine, and posture. Our glute strength maintains forward translation whether it is in weight training or running. With poor strength through our glutes and extensor musculature, compensation comes from our quadriceps, hip flexors, and postural muscles. Aside from being aesthetically pleasing, glute work is vital as we need to be able to recruit muscles appropriately for optimal strength, endurance, and dynamic stabilization. Finding the right recipe for improving glute strength can go a long ways and should be considered on your off days.
Included in the video below are three of my favorite glute exercises. These can be performed on off days, or pre-workout to strengthen the neuromuscular connections for improved firing patterns.
Extra abdominal training can be trained as often as you’d like as long as you’re not so sore that it’s affecting your posture or affecting you primary workouts. Other than that, you can spend an extra 2 minutes up to 10 minutes per day performing extra ab work. It’s best to perform a wide variation of exercises the longer and more often you’re doing extra abdominal work. Also keep in mind; you can mix in your extra ab work during your extra Conditioning, Glute Work, and Stretching on your off days.
Flexibility in terms of mobility and preventative maintenance work is essential in improving pliability of major muscle groups, decreasing unwanted torque on the musculoskeletal system, and aids as good recovery post training session and during/after your extra conditioning work. The focus of a good mobility program should focus on the major muscle groups which can include: quadriceps, hamstrings, hip rotators, iliotibial band, and latissimus dosri. When designing your flexibility program, target areas of concern and use your time wisely. There is no evidence that holding a stretching >30 seconds is of any additional benefit. Most times performing each stretch as 3 repetitions of 30 seconds is sufficient. The best time to perform sustained mobility as discussed above is following your workout session.
Frequency: Unlimited. Best to perform following a workout while muscles are warm.
Duration: 30 seconds for each major muscle group
Sets: 2-3 sets per exercise
So as you can see, performing extra work can go a long ways by just simply adding a couple of these methods to focus on your weak areas. You do not have to add in all of these areas in to your extra work, but for instance, if you feel like you want to work on burning some unwanted body fat and would like to focus on improving your glutes, we would suggest just adding in these two areas to focus on as your “extra work.” And better yet, any of these above training areas can be combined together to add to your Extra Weekly Training Volume! A lot of people go wrong with spending too much time doing the wrong things to add in extra work. So let’s be sure to start slow and be smart, so that we can actually let our training help us, not hinder us…
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