I am a 53 year old male, FTP 250, 73 kg, riding for 10 years. I only pin on a number ~2x per year, generally for gran fondos, gravel races, or 40k TTs. I really enjoy training and competitive group rides.
I loosely follow a low volume plan, and I end up with 5-8 hours per week of riding most weeks (plus yoga, strength training, and walking). I usually do two of the three suggested workouts per week as prescribed, then replace my Saturday prescribed ride with a group ride and add in one additional low-key ride with friends. So I end up with 2-3 hours of structure plus 3-4 hours of unstructured riding per week. Two hours of the unstructured is often a drop ride. I also do one or two 25-minute strength training sessions per week, plus ~4 hours of walking and an hour of yoga.
I use Plan Builder. When recovery weeks come in, I am less adherent to the Low Volume plan, and so my recovery weeks tend to look quite similar to my non-recovery weeks.
My rationale is this: my volume isn’t very high at 5-8 hours per week, and I tend to have frequent “forced” recovery weeks anyway due to vacations, illness, injury, etc. (maybe 8-10 missed workout sessions in a typical quarter).
Does my rationale make sense, or do you recommend that I try to adhere to the TR plan during recovery weeks and just do ~3.5 hours of endurance riding? I’m wondering if adhering to rest weeks is likely make me faster since I will be able to push more during other weeks, or if lowering the volume to 3 hours every three weeks will slow me down, given that my volume is already pretty limited at 5-8 hours per week and I’m getting forced time off from sickness/injury/travel.
Thanks in advance for your thoughts!
I can tell you from personal experience that you can get into a state of fatigue that won’t dissipate when you keep riding 5-7 hours per week. After a few weeks of intervals, I’ll be walking around with sore legs. I can still get on the bike and push the usual watts but I’m sure I’m not in peak form.
A rest week can be no intervals, no group ride, extra days off and all other rides at the super, super easy zone 1 pace (not even zone 2).
I believe it’s all how you feel. It’s not written in stone that we have to take 3/4 weeks hard, 1 easy. Train 6 days rest 1, and so on.
Some people might not need a week recovery based on this volume, some might.
Also, there’s the full package, sleep, stress, food, mood, etc.
I know it’s not helpful, but you’re the only one who can answer that question based on how you feel.
With that in mind, I’d say your load isn’t super heavy, so if you’re doing well, no need for rest when schedule. Conversely, one might need a rest when hard load is schedule, and that’s the issue. People don’t listen to their bodys. They see the schedule and think, I’m dead on my feet, but I’ll do it anyway.
No formula can tell you how you feel. How much rest you’ll need is going to be up to how hard you’re going on your “on” weeks. My volume is +/- an hour or so of yours and I’m usually looking forward to that rest week
Wait for it…
Here it comes…
If you are getting sufficient recovery periods during the course of your plan, then adapting your scheduled recovery weeks to be “harder” than scheduled should not be an issue.
The old “Listen to your body” advice applies here…some people can sustain 5-8 hours / week and rarely need a “recovery” week. Others will find 5-8 hours / week of structured training challenging and will need the scheduled recovery periods, or even have to switch to a 2 weeks on / 1 week off schedule. It depends.
As long as you can continue to complete your scheduled workouts without undue fatigue, you can probably continue as you have been doing. But if the workouts start to become unreasonably challenging or you feel you are carrying excessive fatigue in your legs, adjust as necessary. It depends
Why are you only riding 5-7 hours a week? If you’re like most 50 year olds, its because a) you have a bunch of other stuff going on in your life (work, family etc) and/or b) you get really fatigued if you consistently ride more than that.
So, yes, you need regular multi day rest/recovery periods.
If you’re single, retired and you used to ride 20+ hours a week and you are doing 5-7 now because you are lazy, than you might not need rest weeks
How frequent are rest (not same as recovery) weeks due to illness and injury? Having frequent bouts of illness or injury can be due to not taking enough recovery and or rest.
My rest week after LV SSB1. Based an my feeling I’d have though I’d not need it. Happy I did it anyways.
It varies a lot from month to month, but looking at my calendar annotations, I would say that I miss more workouts due to illness/injury than to travel. I wonder if I would be less likely to get sick or injured if I periodized my training blocks more. I got faster when I switched from 6 days/week to 3-4, employing structure. Thanks @GoLongThenGoHome and everyone else for your input!
To cut right to the chase, we ABSOLUTELY recommend sticking with your scheduled recovery weeks.
5-8 hours of riding per week, plus strength sessions, plus walking, plus yoga, plus the stressors of life – it all adds up and it certainly isn’t anything to scoff at.
Recovery is where your fitness gains will actually be realized. Rest and recovery allow your body to repair itself, which makes you stronger and able to hit your hard training sessions again when your rest/recovery period is over.
Additionally, you’ll probably find that you’ll run into fewer “forced” recovery periods by adhering to what’s already scheduled. Trying to do too much is a recipe for injury and/or illness.
Recovery weeks are SUPER important – in fact, they are an ESSENTIAL part of your training plan.
Rest weeks? Never heard of ‘em
That’s definitely a red flag and a sign you are not getting enough recovery frequently enough. I’ve had one period of illness in last 6 years, and that was Covid last year. No injuries from training ever, and I’m late 50s now.
Yes, that looks like a big, honking, bright red flag with lights on it…
At 5-7 hours, I don’t think you need a rest week. I’d do Mon and Tue off, endurance Wednesday, then back at it on Thursday through the weekend. Nothing special about a week.
Totally. Take a week if you need it but 3-4 days should be plently (on 5-7 hours), but definitely need some down days semi regularly imo.
I rest weeks as a good mental break to catch up on some things around the house and what not. Also gives me extra time to do other activities that don’t interfere with my recovery.
sometimes mental breaks are as important as physical. Maybe even more.
You can totally skip a recovery period if you are SURE that you are totally, fully, and completely recovering from ALL of your training stress each week, such that your body has the chance to heal, repair, and get stronger and you are then starting the following week fresh.
Bluntly put, NOTHING in what you wrote sounds like this is the case for you.
If you are working to get stronger, and you are accumulating any fatigue, you need to take an appropriate time every so often to recover from that stress. How much time, and in what way you recover, depends on how hard you’re working and how much fatigue/stress you’re accumulating.
Two keys: Listen to your body. If in doubt, rest more rather than less.
I think the term “rest week” can be misleading. A rest week in a progressive plan is just a reduction (not elimination) of stress to give the body a chance to absorb the overload. It’s generally accepted that you will have better adaptation doing a “3 steps forward, 1 step back” approach vs trying to increase your number of steps each week continuously. Regardless of number of hours, overload is overload, it’s required to progress, and can’t ramp up indefinitely without stepping back at times.
All that said, if your plan isn’t ramping up stress every week and you are just maintaining, then I think a rest week can do more harm than good. And I agree w some of the prior comments about going off feel and also the importance of mental recovery.