Asking fighters to take an “easy day” can be the hardest thing in the world.
It certainly feels like the best fighters NEVER take an easy day. But I can assure you that they do. In between all the crazy highlight reels of fighters going from one impossible exercise to the next, they are indeed taking breaks. It’s the only way to really get stronger AND stay injury-free in the longterm.
But how do we do it?
The average “champion” is wired to squeeze in one more set, one more rep. It’s a tough addiction to break once you’re already in the gym. This all-or-nothing mentality is will lead you to burnout, injury or over-training faster than it will to success. There’s also the other issue that some athletes can’t do an easy day because it’s just too boring. They need stimulation. I know…I know.
Here are some tips to keep the rest days easy, BUT STILL FUN (and yes, still productive)…
DON’T COME PREPARED
Yes, you heard exactly what I said! I’ve got some solid tricks to prevent you from going hard core.
Btw, if you’re that kind of person that isn’t addicted to working out, you might think this guide isn’t for you but oh yes, it is. In fact, you probably need it even more than the gymrats. Lazy people are extremely prone to over-training. It’s like that person who starves all day and then gorges at dinner time. Lazy people do the same with the gym. They don’t go for 3 months and then try to make up for it all in one day. Don’t guilt yourself for not working out. But also don’t feel guilty for not pushing your max, ok?
Do not bring any of these to the gym (I MEAN IT!):
- no boxing gloves
- no boxing shoes
- no athletic shoes (yes, none of that either)…WEAR FLIP FLOPS! (or if there’s strict gym policy, where some street shoes that don’t let you move well)
- especially no mouthguard or headgear (so you can’t get sucked into sparring)
Basically, I don’t want you with any of your gear that will allow you to do a max-intensity workout. Because I don’t trust your ass. It’s always an easy day until someone gets asked to spar. Next thing you know, “rest day” becomes “the day I got injured”.
Stretch. Move around. Stay warm. It’s great for your body to move around and get that blood flowing. Blood heals and rebuilds everything that it touches. Improve that blood circulation throughout your body and you’re seriously rebuilding your body.
Have no expectation for yourself.
Think nothing but to relax, and have fun.
2. Slow Skill-work
On easy days like these, you can work on all those micro skills. New combos, new slipping patterns, new footwork movements. All the little tricks and nuances of boxing. Today is the day to take your time, go super slow, super analytical on yourself in the mirror. Ask questions, talk your coach about different things. It’s a mental workout day!
If you’re breaking a sweat, you’re working too hard!
3. Easy Bagwork
Most people don’t even know what EASY is. When I say 50%, they do 75%. When I say 75%, they do 90%. Do 10-25%. Seriously, so lazy that it’s NOTHING. Go slow but with great technique. Paying attention to every little detail. Here’s your chance to practice little tiny movements. Move around, breathe. Micro-coordination work.
Just touch the bag. No hitting sounds!
4. Core & Cooldown
Still want to work? How about some core exercises. But here’s the thing. Go SLOW, and do very little. Like 10 super slow crunches. Just breathing. Or 10 super slow push-ups, just breathing. Not quick explosive bursts, ok? Just breathing your way through things. If something aches, stop.
Light core work in long drawn out reps.
5. Stretch session
Stretch, stretch, stretch! Back when I used to do track and field in high school, my stretching routine was easily 2 hours. Stretch every freaken part of your body. Think you’ve done them all? Ask other people for new stretches. Really lay there and let it hang. No rush. Breathe deep.
Hold stretches for 1-5 minutes at a time if you can. You should feel your body letting go more and more with every passing minute.
6. Watch others
This, my friend, is one of the most underrated benefits of “easy day” for me. It’s probably my favorite part (aside from goofing around in the gym). You get to sit there and play fly-on-the-wall for a change. Usually, when we go to the gym, we’re only focused on ourselves. Thinking about what WE have to do.
Well not today! Today….we get to watch everybody else. And oh, how much you learn when you’re not busy thinking about yourself. You actually have an empty mind for once. You can see what other coaches are teaching their fighters. You can actually see what other fighters are doing. What tricks they’re trying to pull off. What things they like to do. What things they like to practice. You get to see it all. Honestly, I always learn so much more at the end of my workouts or on easy days because of this. I just goof around and watch everybody at work.
You learn so much more when you watch others.