So during your day off but your fingers are constantly itching you to get back on the bar…
You are probably asking yourself these questions…
Can I do calisthenics on rest days?
Maybe just a few pull-ups?
Is it a good thing to do?
Will it benefit me?
and so on…
In this article, you will learn the true answers to these questions and many more you probably have.
Let’s jump in!
Can you do calisthenics on rest days?
The short answer is no, it is not recommended but there is a way around that. Doing it could be very beneficial and improve your results.
Before I go more in dept with the way around I mentioned above and show you step by step how to do it, I’m first going to explain to you why it is not recommended to do calisthenics on your off days.
There is a reason why those days even exist and it’s best for you to use them wisely and as your advantage.
Let’s find out why.
Why should you let your body rest on off days?
Here are a few great reasons why it’s really important for you to give yourself enough time to recover from your calisthenics workout routine.
[#1] – Your body must recover
During your workouts, you tear down your muscle fibers in small microscopic tears.
Usually taking 2 days off to recover is going to be enough time for your body to release enough fibroblasts (repairing cells) in order to use them properly to repair the damaged fibers.
That is going to make your muscles bigger, stronger and more durable for your upcoming workouts.
If you don’t provide your body with enough resting time and continue to train regularly you will learn that this is a big mistake.
Doing that is going to leave you with very low amounts of glycogen. Having lower glycogen than normally required can cause your physical performance to suffer.
That’s why you have to give yourself a break every single week to allow your body to replenish the important nutrients it has been using.
[#2] – Prevents overtraining and muscle soreness
Proper resting time is an essential part of muscle recovery.
Training with sore muscles is unpleasant and it may have a negative impact on your form and range of motion.
If you ignore your body and continue to train with soreness continuously that may eventually result in decreased performance or even worse – overtraining.
Overtraining does exist and it is your worst enemy. It may come hidden to you in many different forms. But if you know where to look you can find its symptoms.
Some of the most common symptoms are:
- Hard time concentrating
- Irritability and anxiety
- Constant tiredness and sleepiness
- Lack of energy and desire to do anything
- Disturbed sleeping pattern
- Lower coordination and appetite
- and much more.
If you have some of those symptoms already that means that most likely you don’t have adequate resting periods and you should focus and work on that.
The best way to ensure that you won’t reach that point is to follow what experts suggest and rest for at least 48 hours (2 days) in a row.
During those 2 days, it is not recommended to have high levels of physical activity. The reason behind this is to simply give your body the recovery it needs.
[#3] – Reduces the chance of injury and improves performance
Now after you have seen what some of the side effects of overtraining are you can understand why it’s easier for you to get hurt if you don’t take the recommended time to rest.
The combination of low concentration, lack of energy and sleepiness could easily cause you to lose form and technique. Also, they might be a reason to lose your grip and fall down or make a serious mistake that can hurt you.
The combination of all those factors may cause you to injure yourself which is going to stop your progress for a while. And to be honest this is the least you have to worry about in that type of situation.
That’s one very serious reason to consider to skip the resting. And another proof why it is not recommended to do calisthenics on your rest day.
Having good recovery period can also help you improve your performance.
When you are well rested you are usually full of energy, motivation and have complete concentration on what you are doing.
You feel as you can achieve anything and are eager to start and smash throughout your workout.
As you can see the result of feeling good is going to help you push that one more rep, complete that one more set and eventually make your workouts more effective and productive.
That, on the other hand, is going to have a direct impact on your progress which is going to help you keep the motivation and fire burning.
In a way, recovery helps you get yourself into this big loop that keeps you going and help you progress further.
Okay, these things are all nice but what should I do if I can’t have a complete calisthenics workout during my rest days? I still want to do something…
Hey, don’t worry, I got your back. Let’s see some great alternatives you may like.
What to do on your rest days?
So now you know why it is actually not a great idea to do calisthenics on rest days.
Instead, I find that we have 2 main ways we can choose to do on those specific days.
You can do a light active resting day or choose to have a completely passive resting day.
Let me explain how those 2 options work.
By light active rest I’m referring to doing something of the sort of light cardio or to focus on training muscle groups that don’t get much workout during the week.
You can still be physically active in a way that allows the majority of your body to still get proper rest.
With passive rest, I’m talking about doing all sorts of stuff that doesn’t really require much physical activeness on your behalf.
These are things you are probably going to do when you feel lazy and just want to relax and not do anything productively.
After you are familiar with the two types of activities let’s use them as our advantage and see what are the best option we have.
Is it really possible to turn even those days into something productive?
Let’s find out!
4 Things to Do on Your Calisthenics Rest Days
Here are my 5 favorite ways I like to spend my 2 resting days I got each week.
As you can see the majority of them are somewhat productive and I still manage to have a proper rest.
s you can see the majority of them are somewhat productive and I still manage to have a proper rest.
Depending on how you feel and what you want, after you have seen them feel free to pick something you like and give it a try.
What I like to usually do is to be more physical during my first day off and to completely rest on my second. That way I feel like I’m getting more benefits and things done. Feel free to give it a try and let me know how it works for you.
[#1] – Train your lower body
We all know very well that one of the most underdeveloped muscle groups in calisthenics is the legs.
The reason behind that is that they are not really required for the vast majority of the exercises.
That’s why the only way you can train them is to specifically target them with a bunch of good exercises.
If you want symmetry and don’t want to have chicken legs like this guy then keep reading.
Doing a quick and effective leg workout could prove to be a very effective way to use your rest day. Doing this can help you build size and strength in your legs which could also be beneficial for your whole body.
Here’s my favorite no equipment leg workout you can do both outside or inside.
If you have additional equipment lying around such as a pair of dumbells, some plates, a weighted vest or resistance bands you can use them to increase the difficulty if needed. If you don’t have any of those things you can use instead of a backpack full of heavy objects as a last resort.
Let’s check it out!
The Leg Workout
How to do it?
In order to get the maximum out of every exercise try to focus on your form and tempo. Make sure to use the complete range of motion and take your time to finish each rep. It should take you around 3 seconds to complete a rep.
Do all exercises right one after the other with no rest between them. Once you have finished with all 3 of them do a quick rest of about 1 min. – 1 min. and 30 sec. Doing this is counted as 1 round.
Repeat everything until you have done 3 or 4 rounds depending on your current condition. Aim to do the given number of reps or seconds of static holds and if you feel like it’s too easy for you increasing the resistance by using one of the ways I have explained above.
Exercises (1 round)
- Pause Squats – 20 reps (pause and hold on the bottom for about 3 seconds)
- One leg hip thrust (Elevated) – 15 reps per leg
- Wall sit-up – 1-minute hold
How to do each exercise?
Here are a few short videos showing you how you can do properly each one of the 3 exercises above.
How to do pause squats (Video)
How to do one leg elevated hip thrust (Video)
How to do wall sit-up (Video)
Now after you have seen the first opportunity of what to do on a rest day let’s see what comes next.
[#2] – Train your core
The next thing you can do on your rest days is to go for a quick ab workout.
If you haven’t already targeted your core specifically during your weekly workout plan following a quick 20 min. abdominal workout can give you some great results while still allowing your body to properly recover.
It usually takes very little time to complete a good workout (if you are doing everything correctly).
Also doing all exercises with good form and contraction means that you shouldn’t activate and use too much the other muscle groups.
That way you are going to isolate your abdominals and leave the rest of your body the rest it deserves.
Having a strong core does surely help with the visuals and aesthetics but it can also help in a lot more beneficial ways.
Some of the best benefits that come with training your abs are:
- Prevention of lower back pain
- Improved posture
- Better balance
- More stability
- and more.
In addition to that having strong abdominals can help you a lot and improve your form during the more advanced calisthenics moves.
In other words, giving yourself a few minutes to train your abs is something really worth doing and it’s going to help you a lot.
Let’s find out how to do it.
The Core Workout
How to do it?
In order to make things a lot simpler and applicable to most of you, I will share with you my basic but effective ab routine I like to do during my rest days.
It doesn’t really require any additional equipment but if you feel like you might need to add some feel free to do so.
In order to increase the difficulty of every exercise, you can hold a dumbbell, some type of weight or a resistance band.
Similar to the previous workout you still have to have complete control over every repetition, use good tempo and squeeze your abs in order to feel the contraction.
Your goal should be to complete 3 or 4 rounds. You are going to do all the 3 exercises below right one after the other with no rest in between. Your only rest should be between the rounds. I’m talking about 1 minute or less.
If you have a pull-up bar at your disposal you can change all exercises to their hanging variations (hanging leg raise, hanging around the world, etc.). Doing that will give you better variation and higher difficulty.
Ab Exercises (1 round)
- Upper crunches (hands crossed on the chest) – 15 reps.
- Leg raises – 15 reps.
- Side crunches – 15 reps. each side
How to do each exercise?
In order to help you visualize the whole workout please take a look at the 3 videos below showing you how to do each exercise.
If you are going to use additional resistance you may have to change the way you are going to do it a bit but it shouldn’t be too big of a difference.
How to do Upper crunches (Video)
In order to save your neck, I personally recommend you to keep your hands on your chest and try to use only your core to lift your body.
How to do Leg raises (Video)
How to do Side crunches (Video)
I know it’s a rest day. I promise you no more workouts.
Let’s see another great alternative you might enjoy.
[#3] – Do some type of light cardio
Yes, I know that nobody likes doing cardio but what if there is a way you can make it more enjoyable?
Of course, if you have nothing against traditional cardio feel free to use your rest days to go out for a quick run, jog or a fitness walk but make sure to keep the intensity levels low.
So doing a light variation of cardio is going to help a lot with your cardiovascular system and at the same time, it’s going to help you lose weight and stay in shape.
Just be sure not to push yourself too much – you are trying to recover, right?
Let’s check out my top 5 favorite creative ways to do cardio and have some fun at the same time.
1 – Walking
There isn’t anything better to just get outside for a nice walk around.
If you have done this hundred of times and know everything very well, try thinking of a cool place you haven’t visited nearby.
Take a couple of friends or your loved one with you and go check it out.
If you can’t think of a cool place to go you can use Google and write down something of the like of:
“your location + landmark”
“your location + cool places to check”
or anything else similar to this.
You get the idea. Doing that is going to provide you with many ideas you haven’t thought about.
We, humans, love to explore new places and what’s cooler than doing it while being physically active.
If you are a fan of the supernatural you can go and check out some creepy places around.
2 – Cycling
In my opinion, cycling is one of the best and most enjoyable types of cardio.
Especially if you are like me and enjoy to explore and go to new places. To be honest I’m very impressed with how versatile riding a bike really is and how much freedom it gives you.
So if you have an available bike at your disposal and good weather conditions I would suggest you organize a cool little trip to someplace you want to visit.
Here’s how I do it:
Step 1: Find the target
The best way I do this step is by downloading an app called ViewRanger on my smartphone and using it in a combination with internet searches and Google maps to find out a nearby location I want to go to.
Step 2: Plan the route to get there
After you have selected a target in a reasonable distance use ViewRanger to see if there are any roads with less to no traffic you can use to get there.
Of course, you can still use Google maps to do this process but it doesn’t really show you the majority of the trails. Remember from where you would want to make the trip and create yourself a path.
Step 3: Calculate how much time it’s going to take you
After you know the spot and the route you are going to take check out how much total ascend and descend it has. You can do this by choosing a point A and a point B and using the app to tell you all of that.
Take in mind the speed you are going to use for the obstacles and the ascension. Have a rough estimate of how many hours it should take you. Add an additional 1 or 2 for extra safety and you are ready.
Step 4: Ride your bike
Prepare, food, water, spare clothes and tools and head on your way. Don’t forget to have fun and take a lot of pictures and videos among the way.
Of course, take a friend or two with you to make the whole thing more enjoyable. And finally, go burn some calories while doing something nice and interesting.
3 – Hiking
If riding a bike isn’t your thing then you may like hiking.
For some people, including myself, there isn’t anything more enjoyable to walk around mother nature.
To feel the breeze, to hear the sound of the wind and the birds chirping around you. It’s truly an amazing way to spend your day off.
And the cool part of all of this is that hiking is still a type of cardio and you still burn fat and calories while building endurance.
So here’s an idea – for your next 2 rest days plan a little hiking trip (try something easier because we are talking about recovery after all).
Ask a friend for company and go together into the wilderness for a good hiking experience.
Not only it will keep you physically active but it will help you relax and enjoy your senses.
4 – Swimming
It’s relaxing, helps you build strength, stamina and burn fat at the same time.
A good way to spend your days off by doing something physical is to go for a swim. You can do it in a local closed swimming pool and do a few laps.
You can also go to a river or lake and do some laps there or you can simply go and relax to one of those open commercial pools when you could also have a lot of fun.
If you have a near aquapark its a great idea to check it out. That way you can combine a lot of fun and exercise in one.
5 – Dancing
To be honest with you, I myself am not a good dancer (not that I couldn’t be) but dancing is one hell type of cardio.
You can feel the burn after only a few minutes doing it.
For that, I truly respect dancers and the amount of stamina they have. Even if you are like me and are not a very good dancer you could still give it a try.
After all, there is only one way to get good at something which is – to practice it.
So if you are looking for a light cardio workout you can do in your free time go to Youtube, open a few tutorials and try learning some new moves. It’s going to make your blood pumping.
Side Note: Women find men that can move very attractive …
[#4] – Just Relax and take it easy
My final and sometimes favourite option for my resting days when I’m not doing calisthenics is to simply not do anything too physically demanding.
It is always good to do some stretching exercises in order to relax the stiffness build during the week.
If you just feel too lazy you can always lay down and read a book or watch a movie.
I don’t know if you have heard but there is going to be LOTR TV Show. That’s something worth watching.
Of course, you can do anything else you like – hang out with friends, go shopping, go to the cinema or for a drink or simply do something you enjoy.
After all, you have worked hard following your week’s workouts – you have earned it!
So now you know why is not really a good thing to do calisthenics on rest days. I have shared with you some awesome things you can do to replace it. And they could really help you move forward.
No matter what you choose to do (even if it’s something totally different from what I have shared) make sure it is not too physically demanding.
You don’t want to keep working out on your resting days because that may lead to overtraining and you burning out.
Think about that every time you aim to rest and use all the information here wisely.
If you like doing calisthenics regularly take a look around my site to see my other articles.
That being said it’s time to end this post. I really hoped it answered all of your questions and provided you with useful and applicable information.
If you believe I have missed something please let me know in the comment section below. Also, don’t forget to share it around.
See you again,
Hey there, my name is Bozhidar and I’m a certified online personal trainer with University Degree in Sports and Nutrition.
With the help of my knowledge and over 8 years of workout experience, I can help you get on the next level. I own a home gym, do calisthenics, little gymnastics, and love to ride a bike.