Workout Ideas For “Off Days”

workout ideas jamin thompson lunges

Quite a few members have reached out to me lately and asked questions such as:

“Is training 3-4 times a week enough?”


“Should I have an active rest day?”


“Should I be doing extra cardio?” 

Before I attempt to answer all of your questions let me just state for the record that generally speaking: it depends.

There is no perfect way or best way.

There is no right way or wrong way.

There is only the way that works for you.

With that said, if you are currently going through one of our custom workout programs and would like to add an additional training day, I would strongly recommend you add a “leg day” and/or use that additional day to train your lagging body parts.

Pro Tip: You can swipe one of the leg workouts from The Goliath program and tweak it to suit your needs. Also, you can find some great upper body workouts in The Hulk as well as some killer conditioning & abs workouts in Abdomination

The workouts listed in the programs above should give you a ton of options to try if you (1) would like to add an additional training day; and/or (2) are looking for some abs, cardio, or conditioning options.

Here are some additional workout ideas you may also want to include in your weekly program:

1. Heavy Bag Work

Beating up the heavy bag is hands down my favorite type of cardio.

Not only do I get to beat the hell out of the bag with punches and kicks (it’s a helluva stress reliever), but heavy bag work is probably one of the most effective (and fun) forms of cardio you can do.

I’ll also usually mix in some jump rope, dumbbell, and/or bodyweight exercises to help spice things up a bit.

Here’s a sample workout to try:
1) Heavy Bag upper body strikes :60 seconds (0-15 second rest)
2) Heavy Bag kicks & knees both sides :60 seconds (0-15 second rest)
3) Hindu Pushups :30 seconds (0-15 second rest)
4) Speed Rope :60

Repeat the round for 10-15 minutes.

Pro Tip: be sure to always wear open fingered MMA gloves so you don’t tear your knuckles up on the bag. (Ask me how I know).

workout ideas jamin thompson heavy bag

2. Shadow Boxing

This is a very effective exercise to complement or substitute for the heavy bag. The best part about shadow boxing is that it’s a badass exercise (that most people never do) and you don’t need any equipment to do it…so if you don’t have a heavy bag available do not worry.

Of course, it may take a bit of practice before you look like a legit boxer, so you may want to start off doing this exercise at home if you’re afraid of embarrassing yourself at your local gym…

…but seriously…who cares what the assholes at my gym think, their silly opinions should mean nothing to you…but it’s totally your call.

3. Running Stairs

Most top athletes and strength coaches will all agree: running stairs is one of the best cardio methods in the world.

As a former athlete, I have probably run hundreds of thousands of stairs in my lifetime, and I will never forget those brutal workouts at Clemson where we had to sprint up and down the stairs in the 90,000 seat stadium of Death Valley to get in shape for the season in 100 degree heat.

I was in way better shape then than I am now. No seriously.

Running stairs isn’t anything new, it has been around for years, but unfortunately, it is one of the least used forms of cardio out there and it’s largely underrated as an elite training method.

It’s not fancy, but it is very effective.

Strength, power, flexibility, supreme conditioning, and fat loss are all attainable with stairs. Even better, you don’t have to go to the gym to do them because stairs are literally everywhere and FREE to use.

If you want to download some free stair workouts, check out the free PDF’s on this page.

4. Hill Sprints

When it comes to cardio you won’t find many methods that are more effective than hill sprints.

Not only do hill sprints build explosive strength and power, but they also help build muscle in your quads, hamstrings, calves, and glutes.

As an added bonus you’ll also get into phenomenal shape as your lung capacity and conditioning will increase exponentially.

We used to run hill sprints at Clemson back in the day and they were killer…and there may not be a faster or more efficient way to get back into shape if you’ve been slacking off.

If you don’t believe me, just check out Walter Payton, arguably the greatest running back of all time, as he discusses how doing hill sprints helped him become the best conditioned player in the NFL.

Here’s a sample hill sprint workout to try:

1a) 50 Yard Hill Sprint- 3 x 1 x 15-30 sec. rest
1b) Squat Thrust- 3 x 10 x 15-30 sec. rest
1c) Walk Back Down- N/A
1d) 50 Yard Hill Sprint- 3 x 1 x 15-30 sec. rest
1e) Grasshopper- 5 x 10 x 15-30 sec. rest
1f) Walk Back Down- N/A
1g) Gate Swing- 3 x 10 x 15-30 sec. rest

Pro Tip: Once you reach an advanced conditioning level, try doing hill sprints while wearing a weight vest or carrying a heavy sandbag.

5. Jumping Rope

Jumping rope is old school…and just like running hill sprints and stairs nobody really does it anymore which is a damn shame because jumping rope is one of the greatest conditioning tools ever invented. 

I like to throw in a jump rope sesh once or twice a week to keep my athleticism and conditioning up.

Here’s a basic jump rope workout to try: go as hard and as fast as you can for 30-60 seconds then jump normally for 30-60 seconds. Do this for 10-15 minutes.

Blasting Rocky music while jumping rope is highly recommended (but totally optional).

Next level. Try this workout instead:

1a) Jump Rope – 2 x 30 sec. on x 0 sec. rest
1b) Heavy Bag or Shadow Boxing – 2 x 30 sec. on x 0 sec. rest
1c) Muhammad Ali Shuffle – 2 x 30 sec. x 0 sec. rest
1d) Kettlebell Thruster – 2 x 30 sec. on x 0 sec. rest
1e) Heavy Bag or Shadow Boxing – 2 x 30 sec. on x 0 sec. rest
1f) Medicine Ball Prone Toe Touch – 2 x 30 sec. on x 60-120 sec. rest

6. Deadmill Sprints

A Deadmill is a treadmill sprint at max effort with the treadmill power off. All movement of the treadmill is generated purely by your own effort.

Here’s a beginner deadmill workout to try: deadmill sprint at max effort for 30-60 seconds. Drop to the floor and do 20 pushups or crunches. Rest for 30-60 seconds. Repeat for 10 rounds.

7. Sex

Do you like to sprint or you more of a slow steady pace kind of cardio person? Regardless of your method of choice, you’re still going to break a sweat, burn calories, and have fun with this one. Try to have sex three times per week, minimum. Preferably with hot chicks.

8. Kettlebell Slams

Kettlebell slams are one of my favorite exercises to do, period.

Not only do I get to take out all of my frustrations out on the weight and de-stress every time I slam the weight into the ground (similar to the heavy bag example above), but I also get an excellent conditioning workout in at the same time.

If you’ve never tried these, add them into your rotation ASAP. You can thank me later.

9. Plate Pushes/Sled Work

If you want to get bigger, faster, and more explosive you’ve got to develop your posterior chain, and nothing does this quite as well as sled drags.

These muscles are the biggest factors in forward propulsion, and with such a huge role in human performance, posterior chain development should never be taken lightly.

Here are a few benefits to doing sled work:
1. Helps develop the posterior chain (glutes, hamstrings, lower back) and prevents & reverses saggy ass syndrome (i.e. Miley Cyrus).
2. Helps build your conditioning and endurance.
3. Increased hypertrophy, fat burning, and injury resistance.
4. The chicks at your gym will think you’re a badass.
5. Sled work will also help you develop a nice ass…which should also help you out with the main reason you’re still reading: see #7 above.

workout ideas jamin thompson sled push

There aren’t a ton of conditioning exercises out there that are quite as challenging (or as effective) as pushing/pulling a sled.

Sled work delivers a full body workout that will help improve your conditioning, increase strength, and help you lean out all at the same time (especially when done for distances of 50 yards or more).

Here’s a beginner sled workout to get you started:
1) Forward Sled Drag – 5 x 90ft x 60 sec. rest
2) Backward Sled Drag – 5 x 90ft x 60 sec. rest

Note: Forward drags develop the glutes and backwards drags develop the quads.

Pro Tip: The sled pretty much eliminates the eccentric component so you can do this type of cardio at a higher volume/frequency (2-3 times per week) without getting sore or running the risk or losing your hard earned muscle and strength gains. You can also alternate between heavy and light sessions. I typically do these as a workout finisher.

Note: if you don’t have access to a sled you can put a 45 pound plate on a piece of cardboard and push that on the floor. Add more weight as needed if 45 pounds is too easy (varies by surface).

10. Sledgehammer Slams

If you’ve gotten his far you’ve probably noticed I prefer badass, violent cardio methods where you push, throw, punch, and slam things over long, boring ‘grandma’ cardio where you run in place or ride a stationary bike at a super slow pace. (no offense grandma!)

With that being said, sledgehammer slams are also tops on my world’s greatest cardio list.

I think the name ‘Sledgehammer Slams’ pretty much tells you all you need to know about this exercise so here’s what you need to do to get started: (1) head over to your local Home Depot and buy an 8 pound sledgehammer; (2) next, hit up your local junkyard and procure a large old tire; (3) next, head to your local park (or use your backyard) and smash the tire with the sledgehammer for 3-5 rounds.

workout ideas sledgehammer slams jamin thompson

Each round can last from 20-60 seconds with a brief rest in between sets. If you’re a stud you can even mix in some bodyweight and/or kettlebell work between sets.

Note: This exercise will also help strengthen your core and build six pack abs – you should wake up the next day with super sore abs and forearms.

PRO TIP: You’ll want to hit an object that will absorb the blow but not fall apart after a few hits. I suggest using a large tire (minus the rim) or a large bale of hay. Don’t use something that will cause the sledgehammer to bounce back and hit you in the face or go right through the object and hit you in the shin. Ask me how I know.

11. Tire Flips

Arguably the manliest exercise of all time, tire flips will help you build massive strength and increase your conditioning to an elite level.

Unfortunately, many people never get the pleasure of trying these because they think it’s too hard to get their hands on a 300+ pound tire…but honestly it’s A LOT easier than most people think.

Give your local tire company a call and ask if they have any extra-large tires lying around that they need to dispose of.

Most of the time they are more than happy to help when someone takes one off their hands…and it won’t even cost you a dime.

workout ideas jamin thompson tire flip

Note: getting your newly acquired massive tire to the place where you want to perform your tire flipping workout is another story altogether. You’re on your own there, bro.

12. Battling Ropes

Battling ropes are a great conditioning exercise for people who can’t do many of the exercises listed above due to chronic joint pain.

This exercise typically don’t cause any pain, so you should be able to get a great conditioning sesh in even if you have knee, back, and/or elbow pain without risking further injury.

Here’s a sample battling rope workout:
1a) Alternate Battling Ropes – 4 x 20 sec. on x 20-40 sec. rest
1b) Rope Slams – 4 x 20 sec. on x 20-40 sec. rest
1c) Grapplers Throw Battling Ropes – 4 x 20 sec. on x 20-40 sec. rest

workout ideas jamin thompson battling ropes

13. Cardio Finishers 

Pro Tip: I like to mix in ‘workout finishers’ like these into my training around 3-5 times per week. However, if you’re just starting out you may want to take it slow and just add 1 or 2 ‘workout finishers’ a week. You may also use these as a quick cardio workout on an off day. 

Finisher 1: 20 dumbbell lunges superset with :20 deadmill sprint. Rest for :75 between sets and repeat 10 times.

Finisher 2: 50 yard hill sprint superset with 10 hindu pushups at the top of the hill. Walk back down & do 10 kettleball slams at the bottom of the hill. Rest for :75 between sets and repeat 10 times.

mortal kombat finish him_workout finisher

A classic finisher 🙂

Finisher 3: Using a stationary bike, sprint as fast as you can using enough resistance to make it difficult (usually around level 10-15) for :30 seconds then cruise for 30-60 seconds on level zero. Repeat for 10-15 minutes.

Finisher 4: Using a sled, push it as fast as you can using weight that’s heavy enough so you can only sprint at half your top speed. Do ten 20-50 yard sprints and rest for :30-:60 seconds between sets.

Finisher 5: (1) :20 second bike sprint followed by :20 seconds heavy bag punching. :20 seconds rest; (2) :20 second bike sprint followed by :20 seconds split jumps. :20 seconds rest; (3) :20 second bike sprint followed by :20 seconds burpees. :20 seconds rest; (4) :20 second bike sprint followed by :20 seconds medicine ball slams. :20 seconds rest; (5) :20 second bike sprint followed by :20 seconds sledge hammer slams. :90 seconds rest. Repeat the circuit 3 times.

Finisher 6: Using a 45 pound barbell, complete the following exercises without resting or putting the bar down: 10 reps back squat + 10 reps military press +10 reps bent over row + 10 reps romanian deadlift. Repeat the circuit 5-8 times and rest for :90 seconds after each round.

Finisher 7: Using a 45 pound barbell, complete the following exercises without resting or putting the bar down: 10 reps jumping back squat + 10 reps step ups onto bench (each leg) + 10 reps hang clean + 10 reps deadlift + 10 reps military press. Repeat the circuit 5-8 times and rest for :90 seconds after each round.

Finisher 8: Head to your local track and run four 400’s as fast as you can. Try to finish each one in :60-:75 seconds or less and rest for :60 seconds after each round.

workout ideas jamin thompson

Finisher 9: Head to your local track (or use a field) and run eight 100’s as fast as you can. Try to finish each one in :15 seconds or less and rest for :60-:75 seconds after each round.

Finisher 10: 45 pound plate push for :30 seconds superset with :30 seconds speedrope. Rest for :30-:60 seconds between sets and complete 8 rounds.

Finisher 11: Speedrope for :60 seconds superset with :30 seconds heavy bag strikes. Rest for :60-90 seconds between rounds and repeat ten times.

Finisher 12: (1) Parachute sprint for :20 seconds superset with :30 seconds heavy bag ground & pound; (2) parachute sprint for :20 seconds superset with :30 seconds heavy bag strikes; (3) parachute sprint for :20 seconds superset with :30 seconds shadow boxing; (4) parachute sprint for :20 seconds superset with :30 seconds medicine ball slams; (5) parachute sprint for :20 seconds superset with :30 seconds backwards sled drag. Rest for :90 seconds. Repeat the circuit 3 times.

Finisher 13: (1) :30 seconds heavy bag slams superset with :30 seconds heavy bag slalom jumps; (2) :30 seconds heavy bag bear hug walk superset with :30 seconds knee jumps; (3) :30 seconds heavy bag shouldering superset with :30 seconds split jumps. Rest for :90 seconds. Repeat the circuit 5 times.

Finisher 14: Flip a large tractor tire 40-100 times (50-100 yards). After every 10 flips do 5-10 sledgehammer slams. When you finish, record your time so you can try to beat it the next time you try this one.

Finisher 15: Bear crawl sled drag for 50 yards and then flip a tire back to the starting point. Rest for :90 seconds between rounds. Repeat 3-5 times. Be sure to record your time so you can attempt to beat your best each time you try this one.

Finisher 16: Flip a large tractor tire 5-10 times; after every 5-10 flips do one of the following for :30 to :60 seconds: (speedrope, burpees, shadowbox, knee jumps, split jumps, sledgehammer slams, medicine ball slams, crunches, etc). Repeat until you have flipped the tire 50-100 times.

Finisher 17: Deadmill sprint for :30 seconds superset with :30 seconds Treadmill Mountain Climbers. Rest for :30 to :60 seconds between rounds and repeat 10 times.

14. The Fun Stuff

This goes without saying but you don’t have to just hit the gym or track to get in a good workout, there are A TON of other things you can also do that will also boost your strength and conditioning.

A few possible ideas include: pick up basketball, flag football, walking, hiking, swimming, rock climbing, cycling, etc. The list goes on and on. The main thing is to pick a few things that you enjoy doing and stay consistent.

Plus, when you think about all of the conditioning tools available to you (i.e. battling ropes, kettlebells, Airdyne bike, TRX, rings, kegs, cars, atlas stones, stadium stairs, pull-up bar, etc), the combos and workouts you can create using a bit of creativity are literally endless.

Putting it all together: here is a solid “Muscle Building Cardio” workout you can try on an off day as an additional workout…try it out sometime and let me know what you think.

Sample “Off Day” Workout

Round 1
Renegade dumbbell row with push-up (8 on each side with 30lbs)
Superset with
:15 seconds treadmill mountain climbers (sprint)
Rest for :60 and repeat 3 times

Round 2
10 neutral grip pull-ups
Superset with
:15 seconds deadmill sprint
Rest for :60 and repeat 3 times

(Watch the video below for an example of a Treadmill Mountain Climber & Deadmill Sprint)

Round 3
30 push-ups
Superset with
:30 incline treadmill sprints (at highest settings)
Rest for :60 and repeat 3 times

Round 4
:30 seconds heavy strikes on bag (or shadowbox if you don’t have a bag)
Superset with
Plate pushes (push a 45 pound plate on the floor as fast as you can for 30-40 feet)
Rest for :60 and repeat 3 times

Round 5
Cool down walk on treadmill for 5-10 minutes

Give these workouts a try and let me know how you like them – and feel free to use this article as a bit of inspiration to think outside of the box and come up with your own creative workout ideas.

Thanks for reading, please leave your questions and comments below or jump in the forum discussion.

Jamin Thompson
My name is Jamin and I'm the creator of this site - my job here is to help coach and motivate you to become a badass both in and out of the gym. Feel free to drop me a line anytime to get your questions answered!
Jamin Thompson
- 3 days ago
Jamin Thompson
Jamin Thompson
Come see my world. Follow me on Instagram at @JaminThompson

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