Rest day vs Recovery ride

What are peoples thoughts on impacts of doing a recovery ride rather than a rest day. I would always rather ride, but not if its going to negatively effect recovery.

When I say recovery ride, I mean a proper recovery ride where you’re literally crawling but spinning the legs, keeping power at ~ 170w below, and the overall ride has an IF of about 0.45.

My volume is quite high at 16-20hours, so beginning to realise I need to take recovery more seriously.

Interested to hear other thoughts. Cycling is one of the modalities where a recovery ride is a possibility, though I’ve definitely done proper recovery rides where I’ve felt worse after.

DJ: I will once in a blue moon go out for a recovery ride below 50% FTP on zwift or outside small ring only to keep my watts down. If I am extremely sore from weekend efforts I actually feel for me it does better than simply taking the day off. Stats for me 260 FTP, 83 kilos first full year of structured training with Mid Volume Monday’s and Friday off. I feel more recovered for the effort on Tuesday. I will almost religiously take Friday’s off as I think riding seven days a week is bad for most people. Again my thoughts.


If I’m set out to do an actual recovery ride (like you’ve defined) I’ll start the ride and just check in a lot during the first 15 minutes. If I’m feeling OK, I’ll finish the hour ride, if not, I turn around and go home to rest.

For an IF of .45 that would put your FTP at ~375W. My FTP is ~250W, during normal training and following a hard bike workout + weight lifting, a recovery ride would be around 80W or an IF of about 0.3.

And to answer the “how low can you go” question I have this blue ribbon effort with an IF of 0.19:


seriously if you ride hard and lift heavy on say Tuesday, doing an easy recovery ride on Wednesday will only help you feel better. But it has got to be REALLY REALLY EASY. Less than 100W easy. You can’t go to low. For context I’m averaging 7-8 hours/week this year and have a coach.

The other time to do recovery rides - after a season break. Right now I’m easing back into training with 2 weeks of recovery rides. This is the only time of year I do rides by HR. Here are a few from week 1 of returning to training after 3 weeks completely off the bike:

Last night I was up to an IF of 0.47 :joy:

Strava ego busting average speed for those 4 rides:

  • 9.8mph
  • 11.2mph
  • 14.1mph
  • 13.1mph (windy)

First one HR at bottom of zone1 and ended up with an average power of 47W :rofl: After that I pulled HR up near top of zone1, my Strava ego simply can’t handle sub 10mph rides LOL.


I agree with this. More often than not the recovery doesn’t actually aid in recovery, it’s just a convenient way to rationalize another ride. I like true rest.

I much prefer at least one true off the bike recovery day. Then again, I‘ve done some rides with avg watts in the sub 100w (315w FTP) and felt good the next day. It just depends.


YMMV. I found that if I took Monday and Friday completely off the bike I’d feel stale the next day (Tues/Sat) which is not a great feeling when trying to do a difficult interval session on Tues or a hard ride on Saturday.

I had been using Lazy Mountain or Lazy Mountain -1 for active recovery days and felt much better when riding the next day. I also did them in erg mode and on the trainer to force me to behave. I don’t do active recovery rides outside as its too difficult to control the power demands for the terrain and also I tend to misbehave more.

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I thought of you a couple weeks ago @bbarrera. I was out of town with my bike and wanted to do some exploring and also not impair my recovery. The ride was 52 minutes with a if.22 and np was 72 watts :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:. It was very refreshing and felt great to see the area while not interfering with my training! Went as low as I could go!


:+1: those rides don’t stroke the ego but feel great and help prevent burnout!


I struggle really hard to take rest days. I would almost say I’m addicted to riding my bike for lack of a better way to state it. My wife might agree. I looked at my training log and have been taking 1 day off the bike every 2 weeks.

I feel like I want to jump on the bike for a quick spin but Coach Chad calls rest days “full rest” which means you don’t touch the bike. I haven’t have 2 consecutive “full rest” days in longer than I can remember… maybe months. Pre-COVID I was bike commuting 4-5 days a week and riding 1 weekend day longer with my group. That translated into 5-6 days/week unstructured riding… My legs were quite often always sore…

I don’t personally believe in rest days off the bike. I might take a day off the bike for outside reasons, but not with the intention of avoiding my bike.

I did a road race Friday, then spent several hours afterwards doing a gentle, fun ride (45 mile race turned into a 100 mile ride). I raced the following day and performed even better (felt better, higher short duration power, etc). I turned that 20 mile race into a 60 mile day. Return the following day to a 2 hour XC race, and felt even stronger. So, that’s just how my body works. If I don’t ride, 99% chance I am running and/or bouldering in the gym.

I also have nearly 1000 hours a year on these legs for quite a few years now. I am a bit odd in that way.

My legs completely seize up if I take a full on rest day, but feel much better if I do a sub 50% FTP recovery ride. Your mileage may vary, but I’m definitely a fan of getting a bit of circulation going to help my muscles recover.

Every one is different, but part of why I originally signed up for TR was to force me to take rest /active recovery days and rest weeks. I ride every day and am still doing active recovery rides in erg mode, it just keeps me for misbehaving. lol.

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Forgive me for saying this but what you are doing here appears to go against everything TR coaches are advising in training plans and on the podcast. To be clear, I feel like I’m in the same boat and don’t want to take days off the bike… What I will admit is that some weeks I feel very tired on a certain day and I will just make some time and take a nap! I am not sure if a nap is equivalent to a day off the bike though…

I have not experimented with High Volume plans, but for those of you that have, do any of them omit “off the bike” full rest days? It seemed in my research that all plans have at least 1 full rest day per week…

I am hoping to ratchet up my performance by giving my body the recovery / rest time that I really haven’t given it for years. Maybe going on 10 years now of riding almost everyday (except during the rainy season) which is rather short here in California…

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It’s hard to determine since everyone responds differently. I heard some pro riders love rest days but some hates it during a grand tour.

I’m in the same boat actually. I’m experimenting which camp I’m in. I think I’m in the recovery ride camp.

True. But they are not the only coaches in the business. I hired a coach for a year who actually liked my method, supported it, and helped get me to my fittest condition ever.

Makes sense. There has got to be a test to judge if you really need a rest day.

One argument for not taking rest days is many of us aren’t doing such high training load to warrant it. For example, would someone riding 6 hours a week need same rest as someone riding 15 hours? Doubt it…

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I think it really depends on intensity. MOST of my 20’ish hours a week is really low intensity. My heart rate hardly ever breaks 110 except here and there. But a person doing 6 hours of intervals? Probably would need rest.

Using that road race I did as an example. I raced 45 miles, then did a 50+ mile ride after. I hammered the race as hard as I could. But the 50 miles after my heart rate averaged below 110, average power was below 45% FTP. My easy miles are legit easy miles. I think the reason they push rest so much is because so many people DON’T rest. They just keep pushing hard.

I’m coming from the perspective of doing 6-8 hours per week on average, with peak weeks being around 12 hours. Personally I think a recovery week should drop volume and include intensity, but that is not the only thing I would change with most TR skeleton plans. Also finding that doing a Mon-Wed block of 3 days, Thur active recovery (usually not riding), then a Fri-Sat 2 day block (Fri/Sat), followed by taking Sunday off is a good programming template. Ghosting my wife on two long weekend rides is a fast track to a solo retirement LOL.

I really have to force my self to have a rest day and if its followed by a recovery ride, it seems a right drag :pensive: