When it comes to growing muscle and boosting strength, it seems less really is more.
A study published in Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that completing workouts combining strength moves (bench press, squats) with power moves (box jumps, medicine ball slams), three times a week, further increases your body strength by an average of 23 per cent when compared to a standard session done twice as often.
So, armed with a well-designed workout plan (like this) – complete with the rest day tips below – you won’t have to live (and die) at the squat rack to see results. Instead, temper the load, factor in rest days and savour the benefits.
Strength and fitness coach Brett Durney helps you make the most of your day off.
Make memories: take active recovery to the next level with memory sets. Do 100 reps, in sets of 20, of the exercise you were lifting heavy the day before. For squats, do bodyweight reps in your living room – it’ll help bring out DOMS by improving circulation to the area, aiding recovery.
Carb up: diving into a new five-days-a-week training programme will empty your muscles if you don’t take rest-day nutrition seriously. Load your plate with carbs – think sweet potato, not pizza – to restock glycogen supplies and energise your muscles in time for tomorrow’s session.
Bed down: pop a magnesium pill before bed and the benefits to sleep quality are well known. But more recent research found that, because of its effect on enzyme function, it also boosts protein synthesis to help you wake up stronger.
A version of this story appeared on MensHealth.co.uk