Weightlifting Ideas to Pump Excitement into Your Recovery Week


Ever since I started periodizing my training, I’ve had to grapple with entire weeks of backing off the weights.

As those who lift smartly know, you can’t go hard every single day. There need to be lighter intensity weeks cycled in so that your joints can recover from the stress of hard training. I went hard nonstop for years because I hate backing off the weights. Having to lift lighter during my usual routine makes it very hard for me to get motivated.

But I finally realized that I’m no different than anyone else – I eventually get injured if I don’t spend time recovering. Not only that, but recovery weeks let you come back stronger than ever.

I’d like to point out that we should all be doing the following exercises with some regularity, and if you truly want make strength progress with these movements you’ll need to incorporate them into your workouts every week, not just during recovery weeks.

Full-body Excitement

To make recovery weeks more interesting, I took the advice of fellow weightlifting fiend Deb to incorporate more full-body exercises I neglect when I’m focusing on getting my training split in. Maybe you already do deadlifts, chin ups, pushups, planks, etc., so I’m listing some less common exercises here.

I prefer to sprinkle two of these in per session in while going lighter with a modified version of my usual routine. Bonus: Full-body exercises burn more calories than single-joint or even some compound movements and engage your core. Exercises done in a circuit will also torch more calories.

Tip: Include both push and pull exercises in each session. Go at least 20 percent lighter than you normally would for three to four sets. If going much lighter you can increase the reps.

Balance/Functional Challenges

I also decided to add in balance exercises during my recovery weeks. Again, this type of training is often neglected as we focus intently on the usual plan. And if these exercises train me functionally at the same time, providing a bit of injury prehab, all the better!

Another idea is to work on agility and speed during recovery week, keeping the volume low. I suppose recovery weeks aren’t too boring after all!

Do you have recovery weeks? How do you go lighter while making it interesting?

22 thoughts on “Weightlifting Ideas to Pump Excitement into Your Recovery Week

  1. All great exercises! I got bored with training splits about a year ago and now I add in more work like this to break the boredom. I like to do a lot of body weight balance stuff, play around with handstands, etc.


  2. I love this list! Thank you. I am about to get back to the weight room three days a week after essentially taking the summer off (cycling) and looking to spice it up. Glad you included kettlebells. My boyfriend LOVES them. It’s been is main source of fitness and the kettle bell exercises improved his back pain.


  3. This is how I normally work out! When my competition is over in November, I’ll be back to it because two months of squats, bench and deadlift (no matter how much I love them), is likely going to kill me!


  4. Great post Suzanne!
    I teach a lot of whole body movements in my Boot Camp class; which my participants love, because they don’t want to train like body builders (‘I might bulk up’; ‘don’t want to look like a man’ etc.) LOL
    Thanks for the links; some of the moves are ones I don’t know!


  5. I do take recovery weeks every 3-4 months. I usually try to time it with my vacations, which are usually very active in other ways: walking, hiking, swimming, etc. If not, then I do thinks I wouldn’t normally have time to do like longer yoga routines. It helps me but I’m always itching to get back to the weights at the end. 🙂


  6. I love your posts always!!!! Now you know me – I am not the normal person so….. got to say I don’t do the above but I have been at my craziness for many years, I am a stickler for form & listening to my bod & I think I & my bod are just used to crazy me! 😉


    • That med ball squat to press really gets people at first. It’s a good one to watch progression in skills and strength because you always see improvements if they’re training consistently!


      • I agree with Adam.I am calorie coitunng and exercising 5 days a week. Running 3 days with toning/conditioning weights and swimming with sauna afterwards for 2 days. I also cycle to and from my work which may be only 2km each way but it still makes a difference. With the exception of swimming I wear a heart rate monitor and I am burning way more calories that what is on the list above. it has been programmed with my current weight and activity level and it has enabled me to improve on my fitness considerably. My advice is to eat well, exercise often and not get stressed out over it if you don’t cheat yourself you will suceed!


  7. What a fab listing of cool exercises! I’ve been spending more time lately on unilateral movements, so the single-leg stuff especially interests me.

    When I first started lifting years ago, I thought I was supposed to go heavy every session, week after week. When I ended up overtrained de-motivated, I couldn’t figure out what was wrong. New lifters who listen to your advice can avoid that problem altogether.


  8. Suzanne,
    I am a runner, turning to the weight room, and realizing I have so much to learn. I’m totally in the beginning phase, especially as I want to finish my marathon (October) before I go too intense. It is interesting for me to see there is a strategy even for the recovery weeks. It makes sense of course, but wow–I’m actually excited about all the new things I get to learn!!


    • It makes me glad to hear about a runner who starts strength training. If you ever need help let me know! To get started all you need are the basics. Then you can progress from there 🙂


    • I’m always glad to hear about a runner who starts strength training! If you ever need help let me know. To get started all you need are the basics… Then you can progress from there!


  9. Great list! Clean and press might be my favourite exercise ever, it works ev-er-y-thing and it makes me feel like a badass.

    I really need to learn the turkish getup, I hear it’s a good one!


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