Let’s talk about recovery weeks

I really hate recovery weeks. I can tell that I have fatigue built up before the start of the recovery week and that some pullback is required, but every time I do a recovery week, I end up hating it. The 1st 2 days are nice but then it seems that the week drags on. By the time I am done with the recovery week, I feel really sluggish. Coming out of the weeks, the 1st several days are a struggle, both mentally and physically. It’s as if I’ve become lazy. The workouts themselves after the recovery week also are harder than they should be RPE wise.

So I’ve been wondering if there is any science behind a whole week of recovery. It seems so arbitrary that we do everything in 7 day cycles. This last time around, instead of a whole week of recovery I did 2 days of rest and 1 day of super easy and then dived back in. Still sluggish but it was better. Just needed 1 hard workout to get my engine purring again.

I’m wondering if I should start doing just a 2 days complete rest every 2 weeks (2 days off, 12 days training). I still have easy days in those 12 days and sometimes life and work force extra rest days as well.

Anyone with thoughts or experiences?

On the science, no, but it may be that you’re not recovered enough even with a week.

Are you talking about doing TRs recovery weeks, or like something else?

7 days might sound arbitrary, but if you have a schedule like most people in the West then your body will be attuned to the cycles of stress n 7 day loops. If you’re a man of leisure, then not so much.

I train quite a lot, but over the years I’ve become convinced recovery days are just not required for people like me. Reduce intensity every four weeks is a reasonable caution, and allows focus on aerobic adaptations.

What are you doing? All Z2 as per TR plans (the last time I looked)?

Assuming you ride both days at the weekend of your last loading week, how about:

Mon Off
Tues Recovery Ride 45 mins
Weds Off
Thurs Low Z2 ride 90 mins
Fri Z2 ride with some openers by feel
Sat/Sun Zwift Race / Group Ride / Whatever

I suspect - especially for people not riding 15 to 20 hours a week, a full week without intensity every 4 weeks is probably overkill, unless you’re really overdoing the intensity in the other 3 weeks. The week I’ve outlined above gives you four days with no intensity and then allows you some fun before hitting the intervals again.

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Recovery weeks are amazing and I love them! I feel like it allows me to smash the training for three weeks with the motivation of a light week in the future.


Yes, I also need little bit intensity during recovery week, otherwise legs get slightly twitchy.

My usual plan has 3:1 loading/recovery pattern, with recovery week being always same except Saturday threshold, which varies with whatever current productive PL after AI FTP detection:

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I’m doing intervals every week of the year. Rest weeks cut back on total volume and some of the interval work. Its a lot better than doing an entire week of endurance rides.


During my recovery weeks

  • Volume down to about 60% of peak volume in current block

  • Keep intensity same but 50% of peak intervals in current block

  • Keep frequency of training the same


I rid 5x a week usually - 2 days intervals, 2 endurance (goal is below or at LT1), and one ride with friends thats “whatever it is”

When I do recovery weeks I take an extra day off (so Monday and Tuesday off), wednesday 90 minutes of endurance, thursday 60 minutes endurance, friday off, saturday - tempo, sunday whatever I want ride - almost like “openers” for the next week to resume Tuesday.

So I take an extra day off and no specific intervals that I’m targeting (I’m not strict about the tempo on Saturday - just going by feel anywhere form below Lt1 → below 90% FTP). Seeems to work fine. I tend to ave 8-12 if all goes well

I adhere to the ‘you train too hard if you need a rest week’ school of thought


About 4 or 6 weeks ago I took 6 days completely off.

First few workouts back I thought dam what have i done.

4 or 5 workouts later I thought it was a great idea!

I’m currently doing 3 or 4 days on, 1 or 2 days off depending on what I’ve done… but i’m determined to have more complete rest days this year.

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When I was coached there was still recovery weeks just a little less often and not necessarily a full week and sometimes they were inserted into the plan after big weekend etc.

Once again I believe everyone is different. Training levels, work, home life all play a part in what a recovery is. How quick the body adapts is learned by experience. For me a week off is not in the cards. My body seems to recover in about 3 days, without any rides. Add in some outdoor fun rides and it might take 5 days.


@brendanhousler Has a good blog post about this on his site: Cycling Rest Week - When & What To DO - Updated 2020 | EVOQ.BIKE

I think it’s worth reading if you’d like to learn about (at least one) coach’s view on rest weeks.


I have no clue what day of the week it is. I don’t have the usual weekday and weekends. It seems even pros are on 7 day cycles.

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My weeks look something like this. When in offseason, I’ll do about 9-11 hrs. As you can see, I get natural off days bc of work.

I like that. Might try having a normal week with more rest days sprinkled in

Thanks for that! Fantastic article

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As a disciple of Friel’s Bible, the answer is no for me.
Whilst the basic block is pencilled in as a full week- he says experienced folk don’t usually need the full 7 days.

I have done all sorts over the years but now I try and: firstly do a big breakthrough ride on the weekend leading into one.
(Last week that was a hard group ride with endurance tacked on to make it a century. )
That means I don’t feel so guilty for actually recovering as I can feel it in my legs that it’s necessary.

Then I tend to take an extra day off in the week. So instead of 1-2 full days off per week, I’ll add a third.
(Off, easy Z2, off, Z2, off. )

But then at the weekend I’ll add unstructured group rides or a couple of zwift races back in with no limit or plan imposed for at least one of the days.

This weekend of ‘no structure’ is kind of instead of doing an FTP test- a way to get a handle on my fitness. But also as a ‘treat’ for the past three weeks of discipline.

Arguably I overcooked that weekend of fun this time around, as my fitness score after recovery week was one point higher than at the start :rofl: but as I was able to hit my numbers on the first Tuesday back into the work- I don’t think it was a problem.


Same. That’s really rewarding. :+1:


I usually need 3-5 days of really easy riding depending how hard the last block was. So something like

Monday off
Tuesday easy Z2 60-90min, if feeling tired I’ll keep it Z1
Wednesday off
Thursday Z2 if feeling good I’ll do an easy interval session
Friday easy Z1/Z2 60min
Saturday Some kind of test like hold FTP for 30-40min to see where I’m at
Sunday Longer Z2

And the next block starts after a rest day on monday.