Rest Days Are Futile
Stop kidding yourself: spending three nights a week on the sofa is the sign of an inefficient training plan
The OLD rule Smash it on Monday, then spend Tuesday wincing every time you stand up from your desk. If you can endure a flight of stairs the day after legs day, that means you weren’t trying hard enough. The NEW rule Sustainability is more than just an environmental buzzword: if you fail to manage your body’s resources, it will burn out quickly. “That old-school ‘no pain, no gain’ mentality isn’t valid any more,” says Zolkiewicz. “Not when you can train pain-free and get the same results.” Instead, aim for a more consistent effort. “I’m a fan of low-level activity on recovery days,” he says. “I like including mobility work, such as functional-range conditioning, plus walking and yoga, in my weekly plan.” Sure, none of these are major fat-torchers, but they’ll keep your metabolism ticking over until the next session. Or you can build in a little additional kilojoule-burning: Danish researchers found that gently training the same muscle groups you targeted yesterday – whether that’s cycling after a lower-body workout or fitting in a few push-ups the day after your bench session – can counteract muscle pain. By contrast, total inactivity reduces blood circulation, which limits nutrient delivery to the recovering muscles, while slowing the removal of the soreness-causing chemical byproducts of training. So, opt for exercises that keep your heart rate high but steady, such as team sports or swimming, rather than running intervals or chasing PBS. You’ll come back stronger.