Recovery ... of what?

Hello everyone, On a rest day, what is it we’re trying to rest? For instance, yesterday I did a hard 50-miler. My Garmin called it a threshold workout with a TSS of 283 and tells me I need to rest today. My legs are a little tired so I’ll probably just do a light hour of endurance today, like an IF of .62. But my core isn’t tired at all. Can I do a core workout, or does recovery mean total body recovery? I just don’t understand the physiology of it. Thanks.

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Your mind, heart, mitochondria, legs muscles. That might mean different stuff for different people on different plans/volumes with different stress levels.

I don’t think a rest day always needs to be on the couch, feet up, do nothing all day…but occasionally that is needed and you’ll probably know when they time comes.

Sounds like some core work and a z2 ride would be fine.

Edit: also, .62if isn’t recovery. You should be down to like 0.5if, and go super super easy if the true goal is a “recovery ride”


Thanks, this is helpful. So many of these answers seem intuitive as soon as I read them on the page, but it still helps to see them. I thought there might have been some odd research that said either, “recovery means recovery of the affected muscles only,” or “recovery means get your butt on the couch.” I’m glad to hear it’s more subjective.

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My Garmin told me it would take 3 days to recover from my ride. I don’t put a lot of stock into the Garmin stats.

I sometimes do core work on my Monday Rest day, but on my Friday rest day, I try to avoid any intensity because I want to be fresh for my weekend rides.

Maybe coach Chad or Amber have the science of recovery down, but letting your body recover and repair is a big part of ensuring you’re making gains and not just burning out.

I took a rest week and really pushed myself on the group ride this week and I felt really good.

Edit: I will add the TR is generally in favor of making your easy days easy on rest days and rest weeks and have noted that other sources of stress (work, yard work, etc.) might be interpreted by the body in a way similar to training stress.

It’s healing. Repairing your body and restoring homeostasis. Cells and fibres that were damaged get fixed and boosted. Fuel reserves brought back up to capacity. Hormone levels normalised. I’m sure there’s a few things I’ve missed.


Yes, I agree Garmin tends to overstate the stress levels and therefore exaggerate the amount of rest. If we all followed Garmin, we’d ride two days a week. But I take your point about rest being REST.

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It’s not during the workout that you get fitter. It’s the period after when your body is rebuilding itself stronger and fitter than before. If you never have the recovery days then you are always breaking your body down without giving it time to rebuild stronger before your next effort. Recovery rides or walks etc increase the blood flow to take away the damaged cells and delivery proteins etc to the right locations to rebuild faster / stronger etc without causing further stress to your body.

Yes, I understand that and I’m a big believer in recovery. But the question was whether recovery means rest for the entire body or the affected muscles. Weightlifters, for instance, will have a chest day followed by a legs day and then a shoulder/arms day. It makes sense to me to have a core day within the recovery period after a hard ride because the core didn’t get the same workout. Anyway, I gather from other responses that there isn’t a lot of research on this one way or the other.

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