As I’ve mentioned before, successful training requires more than repeated intensity. If you constantly run yourself into the ground, it’s only a matter of time before your body pays the price. Speaking as an active member of the 40+ crowd, I believe it is essential to include lighter days to facilitate recovery and prevent burnout. Such days can still be challenging, but in a different way than what’s experienced when lifting maximal loads or pushing yourself to the brink of exhaustion.
This entry includes a video summary of one such workout that I performed earlier this week.
Lighter Training Day Sample
First, I will share the workout and video demonstration, and afterward I’ll discuss the session.
November 19th – Lighter Session
- Warm-up with 10 to 15 minutes of hand-eye coordination
- Train 3 to 5 bodyweight exercises for approximately 15 minutes
- On this day, I did pushups, sit-up stand-ups, and rollouts
- Skip rope for 3 rounds (3-minute rounds, 30 seconds rest)
- Speed bag for 3 rounds (3-minute rounds, 30 seconds rest)
- End session with a brief finisher
- On this day, I did 5 minutes with a light sledge
Lighter Day Logic
As a former athlete and current coach to professional athletes, I know all about hard work and intensity. I am essentially hardwired to push myself. I don’t know any other way. With that in mind, I must be certain that my lighter sessions don’t include movements that will wear me out. Because regardless of my intent, I always end up pushing myself during the session.
Therefore, my lighter workouts consist of movements and activities such as:
- Hand-eye coordination training
- Bodyweight exercise
- Jump rope
- Shadow boxing
- Light bag work (ex. speed bag and double end bag)
- Light conditioning (ex. light sledgehammer swings)
Hand-Eye Coordination Warm-up
I begin almost all my light sessions with a hand-eye coordination warm-up. Challenging hand-eye coordination isn’t physically taxing and has obvious benefits for athletes. Such work is also excellent for the brain (see here). That’s all the reason I need to challenge my hand-eye coordination regularly.
During my light workouts, I simply pick a handful of activities (ex. juggling variations, reflex ball, etc.) and perform them randomly for 10 to 15 minutes. I don’t track sets or reps. I just move from one activity to the next based on how I feel. It doesn’t need to be any more complicated than that to be effective.
Lighter Work is Subjective
When looking at my list of bodyweight movements, it’s important to note that what is light for one athlete may be strenuous for another. And that’s why I’ve always been hesitant to share “day in the life” workouts. I don’t want anyone to blindly copy what I’m doing. Instead, it is important to tailor the work to suit your own ability and needs.
For example, my lighter session included standing rollouts. Earlier in my life, that exercise would have been considered intense. Yet, after performing rollouts for 20+ years, I’m no longer at risk of wearing myself out with the movement.
The same logic applies to the sledgehammer. The sledge that I used for this session was only 6 pounds. I regularly swing a hammer that is much heavier so dropping down to the 6 pounder is not going to wear me out. Sure, my heart will be beating, but I can quickly recover from the work.
In addition to monitoring intensity, I’m also careful to minimize volume. In fact, I don’t even keep track of reps. Instead, I limit myself to small blocks of time, while never pushing myself to failure. For instance, you can see how I limited myself to 15 minutes of calisthenics. Naturally, only so much volume can accumulate during such a short block of time.
The same logic holds true for timed rounds with tools such as a speed bag or jump rope. As you can see, I only performed three rounds of each. Three rounds are not enough to wear me out regardless of my pace and intensity.
In summary, as an active coach in my 40s, I need to be fresh for my athletes. Running myself into the ground each time I train will not only break my body down, but also hinder my ability to perform my job. Thus, while I still enjoy hard sessions, I also have days where I intentionally back off the intensity and volume.
I firmly believe that these lighter days have been instrumental in allowing me to feel no different in my 40s as I did in my 20s or 30s. Physically, I don’t feel like I’ve declined at all. So, if you enjoy hard work like me, consider adding some lighter days on occasion to help you continue feeling fresh as the weeks, months, and years pass.
Your future self will thank you.
“We must always change, renew, rejuvenate ourselves; otherwise, we harden.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
If that is a light day, I’d hate to see a heavy day.
Great tips! It makes sense for the body to have a dedicated recovery period in between high intensity workouts. And you are right..Age is an important factor to consider in recovery.
I’ve been following many years, I’m 82 and I realise everything is relative, but theirs not one in a thousand could do medicine ball roll and stand or a stand up roll out, your light workout is a full blown workout to 99% of your followers, just my opinion of course, but thanks you still inspire me.
Yes, this is great advice.
Due to constantly pushing myself, I got loads of injuries (some that are still present),
now I have no other choice than to do light days 😀
Great article.Can you provide an example of heavy day for conditioning or strengh,explosivness e.t.c
Hi, just want to say great tips! It makes sense for the body to have a dedicated recovery period in between high intensity workouts. Thanks for the added inspiration.