My Rest Day Routine

While you can’t pummel your body seven days a week with heavy weight, on days you don’t lift, or “rest days”, you should spend time healing your body. That means mobility work, stretching, soft tissue work, band exercises and more which I will cover below.

I also will do exercises like Turkish Get Ups. They do work the shoulder muscles, but don’t tax them greatly and the main goal of them is joint health and shoulder stability.

The routine I go over takes about an hour. I used to do only 20-30 minutes on rest days, but I realized I was missing out on so much and now I spend at least an hour doing this. Take your time on this! You can watch TV or listen to some music or a podcast, just make sure you’re staying focused.

The first step for this is to:

Find Your Weak Points

When undergoing a fitness routine, or even your daily life, your bound to encounter some sort of injury or discover a weakness.

For me personally I have two major ones: My hips and neck.

My neck is the most glaring pain spot. I’ve had tightness there for quite some time now, and have strained it twice, once requiring me to go to physical therapy. I’ve yet to pinpoint the exact cause of it, but my best guess is sleeping and sitting.

To combat this tightness, I have to stretch the hell out of it. Elliott Hulse’s video is probably the best one I’ve come across regarding this issue:

As for my hips, they’re tight. Really tight, but that is the case for most men. I say men for a reason as guys have naturally tighter hips than women, which means that you need to pay them extra attention. Also, depending on how much you sit will determine how much you should stretch them.

The Routine

The time of day isn’t so important, but I prefer to do it either early morning or early afternoon. I don’t do it in the evening, or do any exercise in the evening, because my energy levels are lowest.

The first thing I do for this routine is Elliott’s Bio Energetic Warm-Up:

If you’ve never seen it before, it may seem a bit ridiculous but it is an effective warm up.

Once I do the warm up, I do stretches and mobility work from head to toe. I’ll start with the neck exercises in the video above, as well as several others. I’ll then do some shoulder rolls and work my way to my shoulders where I spend a lot of time. (Check out Jason Ferruggia’s 27 tips for healthier shoulder series below).

After that it’ the upper back, which a lot of people have weakness and tightness in due to excessive sitting and an emphasis on horizontal pressing movements (e.g. Bench Press). Eagle arms are a great yoga pose to open up the upper back and shoulders.

Then I go down to my hips which is a weak point and spend a lot of time there doing various stretches and mobility exercises such as:

  1. The Invisible Hurdle Drill
  2. Fire Hydrants
  3. Hip Circles

Shoot for around 15 reps for each leg/direction.

I then do the 90-90 glute/hip stretch, a basic quad stretch, and a  basic hamstring stretch.

After which I’ll write out the alphabet with my ankles.

Resistance Bands

Now it’s time to go back up again. If you don’t have a resistanceband I suggest you get one. I have one from physical therapy that I’ve been using for a bout two years now.

I do several exercises with it:

  1. Pronated Band Pull Aparts
  2. Supinated Band Pull Aparts
  3. Shoulder Dislocations
  4. Face Pulls
  5. Scarecrows

My favorite of these by far is the pronated band pull apart. I do these every day, including workout days before I lift. I’ve got so much stronger at these, and my rear delts have finally decided to poke their head out, where I had never seen them before.

There is no particular rep range with the band exercises, but the goal is to get a pump and move the target muscles (shoulders and upper back) through the full range of motion. If I had to throw out a rep range, I’d say 15-30. Once you can get more than 30 or so, you’ll need to get a stronger resistance band, or just double over the band.

Yoga Poses

I’m a fan of yoga, but don’t go to yoga class every day, if even every week. I do always make sure to hit several poses that address weak points, or just do a great job of opening up the whole body. They are:

1.) Downward Dog:

2.) Eagle Arms (See Above)

3.) Cat/Cow

 

4.) Cobra

5.) Pigeon and King Pigeon Pose

Soft Tissue Work

What you’ll need here is a lax ball and a foam roller. I’ve heard good things about the rumble roller, but a regular foam roller seems to get the job done.

First of all, you need to make sure you’re foam rolling correctly:

The spots you’re going to want to hit include the following (head to toe):

  1. Traps
  2. Upper Back
  3. Lats
  4. Pecs
  5. IT Bands
  6. Glutes
  7. Hamstrings
  8. Quads
  9. Calves
  10. Shins (I hit the anterior tibilias because of the hump roping I do).

While the uses of these self-myofascial release tools (i.e. lax ball and foam roller) have similar purposes, they are used depending on where you’re trying to trigger release. For example, it’s difficult to use a lax ball on your legs, whereas it’s difficult to hit your traps with a foam roller.

Go over weakpoints, pain areas

After I’ve gone through my entire routine, I’ll take note of any spots that are still tense which are usually my neck and hips. I’ll repeat some stretches and exercises and hold them longer than before.

Brisk Walk

Now that my stretching, soft tissue, and mobility work are done I call it quits. The walk does not always come right after this workout, but it can. If I’m working out I might as well get it all done right?

A walk less than 20 minutes isn’t much of a walk for me, so I’ll usually do 20-30 minutes. I’ll either listen to some upbeat music or listen to a podcast. Sometimes I’ll forego the sound.

I also like to work on my posture and make sure to walk like a man.

Sunbathe

Depending on the time of the year, I like to get some sun. While I am fair skin by birth, I don’t sit in the sun to tan (although that’s nice too), but rather to soak up the Vitamin D.

Although I take 5000 IU daily of Vitamin D, I still prefer to get the real stuff. Vitamin D has numerous benefits, and I also find it helps my skin and improves my mood. Just be careful not to burn.

Resources

I’ve spent a lot of time in the gym over the years, but because of the mistakes I’ve made in the gym I didn’t make much progress. The reason for that was because of information overload, that is, I was bombarded with contradicting information and my results went nowhere. When it comes to mobility, more information won’t be detrimental, because it’s hard to sabotage your mobility gains. So soak up all the info you can.

Below are some resources I’ve collected over the years. There from sources I trust. This is just the tip of the iceberg, and I recommend you do your own research, but definitely check these out.

  1. Joint Mobility PDF from Training Dimensions
  2. Mobility WOD
  3. Manly Mobility by John Alvino (via Jason Ferruggia)
  4. 27 Tips for Healthier Shoulders Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 by Jason Ferruggia
  5. Band Pull Apart Series for Healthy Shoulders from EliteFTS