Exclusive: Joslyn Thompson Rule explains why strength isn’t all about weights

Posted by for Life

Stylist Strong’s creative director explains why downtime can be the most vital part of our fitness routines.     

“There is this association that the more exercise you do, or the more you sweat, the more effective a workout is. In fact, it’s quite the opposite,” reveals Joslyn Thompson Rule, trainer and creative director at Stylist Strong

That statement might come as a shock if you’ve been following the #noexcuses attitude towards exercise. But with burnout on the rise, we’re here to share the news that without rest, you won’t get stronger. 

“You have to recover as hard as you train,” says Thompson Rule. 

Here’s how.


Exercise is a stress-beater but it’s also a stress in and of itself, as during workouts muscles undergo tiny micro-tears. Rest days give muscles the chance to recover and adapt so they come back stronger. Aim to schedule one to two rest days a week. But when? “Look at the rest of your week and whether there’s a lot of demand on your body,” says Thompson Rule. 

woman wearing focusing while squatting with a barbell in a fitness studio
It's important to allow yourself breaks.


When we are asleep the body secretes human growth hormone, which is essential for tissue growth and repair. If the recommended seven to nine hours feels out of reach, Thompson Rule suggests slowly introducing an extra five minutes at a time. “Foregoing sleep to get an early training session in compromises the body’s ability to utilise the effects of training – we adapt when we’re at rest,” she says.


That post-workout metabolic window is a myth – simply try to get a balance of protein (to repair tissue), carbohydrates (for fuel) and fats (to regulate hormones) around the clock. “A lot of people just aren’t eating enough for the amount they train,” Thompson Rule says. “Focus on three solid meals a day. What our grandparents did. They did it a lot better than we do.” 


Associate breath work with yogis? That may be where you’re going wrong. Good breathing technique stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which is essential for reducing the stress hormone cortisol. “Breathing shallowly affects our whole physiology,” says Thompson Rule, who has programmed breath work into her Performance class at Stylist Strong – to “take your body out of fight-or-flight mode”.

Ready to get strong? Try out a free-weights class at Stylist Strong’s purpose-built studio at The AllBright Mayfair. To take advantage of our intro offer of two classes for £18, visit stylist.co.uk/strong

To come and join Joslyn Thompson-Rule and other incredible speakers go to live.stylist.co.uk to book your tickets to Stylist Live Luxe, our festival of inspiration on 8-10 Nov 2019.

Sign up for workouts, nutritious recipes and expert tips. You’ll also get a free Beginner’s Guide To Strength Training.

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Chloe Gray

Chloe Gray is the senior writer for stylist.co.uk's fitness brand Strong Women. When she's not writing or lifting weights, she's most likely found practicing handstands, sipping a gin and tonic or eating peanut butter straight out of the jar (not all at the same time).

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