Staggering vs Grouping Rest Days

My current training week includes 5 days of riding and 2 rest days. Currently, I have a rest day and Friday and Sunday.

I was wondering which is more effective (at recovering), having 1 day off every 2-3 days or having 2 days off in a row after a block of 5 days training?

I’ve searched through previous posts but couldn’t find much on this.

Generally if you have 2 rest days most plans would try to space them apart by 2-3 days, I.e., Monday and Friday or shifted as necessary.

This way you can give it a good go during the weekend and mid-week but be recovered well for both parts.

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You will find many anecdotal examples of both (staggering or grouping) online, and I doubt little to no scientific evidence for either. That speed skater who won gold did 5 on and 2 off and it worked for him.

But the real issue here: how do you define “recovery”? Scientifically?

You should put the days in whatever order so you are refreshed and “recovered” for your harder interval days. And everyone is a special snowflake - so for some of us that’s staggered and for others grouped.

You are an “N” of 1. Try it out a few days and see what works. Which is why you find so many different ways people do recovery weeks on here.


That’s been my approach for the past two years, but I find that I am better recovered after 2 days off and I get through the 5 days riding more effectively. I’m wondering if this is purely anecdotal or if there is any research/science supporting this.

If you are curious about Nils Van Der Poel’s training with weekends off he wrote an extensive guide about it:

I believe he was doing 30 hours a week with a lot of it on the bike and taking two full rest days in a row which was probably a requirement with that much load.

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Recovery is so personal, so age dependent and very tied to how many years you’ve been training for — and probably several other variables — so i I don’t think you’ll find much scientific research on it, and if you do it likely won’t be applicable to you.

FWIW, I train 5 days a week and my off days are Monday/Friday … however, I went particularly hard on Tues/Weds last week and was feeling shelled on Thursday, so I took Thursday off, did 90mins Z2 on Friday and was in good shape for the weekend.

Figure out what works for you …. not only in relation to your schedule, but what works over the course of several cycles of building and recovering. Sometimes fatigue doesn’t catch up to you until 3-4 weeks down the road. The point is to get enough rest to absorb the work, and if you’re doing that … however you’re doing that … then you’re doing it right.

Good luck🤘


I would go crazy (well more crazy) with boredom with 2 rest days in a row but I know of nothing which says its better or not. Experiment and find what’s best for you @CyclingJR

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He was also frequently doing 4 days on / 3 days off when the fatigue would get to him.

I like to ride every day even if it’s just some easy pedaling. I’ve been thinking of having an organic interval schedule rather than being locked into certain days per week. I mean that maybe I’ll do an interval session every 2, 3, 4, or 5 days depending on how the legs feel. The rest will be filled in with easy endurance or recovery rides as needed.

I’ve also heard about some pros doing 3 days on, 1 day off usually in the format of intervals, tempo/threshold, long endurance, rest. Of course, that works out to an 8 day week which doesn’t exist.


This describes my usual recovery day pattern. Normally Monday recovery day is enough ahead of my VO2 max session on a Tue. But my Z2 longest ride hit a new peak for the winter training , and a decent tempo session on Sunday. Today I decided on an extra recovery day was warranted and I’ll tackle my VO2 max session tomorrow.

To the OP. I usually have a recovery day ahead of my VO2 session, and a recovery day ahead of my longest Z2 ride. But if you’re carrying extra fatigue don’t be afraid to delay a hard session with another recovery day. Or even dropping that hard session that week if you can’t easily reschedule it. Don’t try and crunch everything together to make it fit.

If you’re needing to add in that extra recovery day every week you probably haven’t been progressive with the loads you are applying via your sessions. But if you occasionally need to, that’s natural, and you should listen to your body to avoid injury and undue fatigue.

Edited to add. If you find your performance going downhill , it’s probably too little recovery, rather than not enough hard sessions that is at the root.


Thats similar to my pattern but I made the Wednesday a regular Z2 day after finding 3 HIIT sessions too much sometimes (LV + Weekend Group Rides)

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I also do this. Intervals inside Tuesday and Saturday after my rest days so I can have the freshest legs for those days.

It’s nice to have 2 days of recovery to play with and slot in where you feel it’s needed. You don’t have to keep all your weeks the same. Usually I will take 2 days in a row if I did big or intense efforts in the days before. Sometimes legs feel a bit rusty coming back to the bike afterwards, but it’s usually not insurmountable - I can still complete the intended workout. So you’ll need to experiment. A study or anecdotal account done on college-level or pro athletes is interesting, but may or may not apply to the majority of us.

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For what it’s worth, the last few weeks I’ve been doing the 5 days on and 2 days off schedule and I’m really liking it.

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I don’t take planned days off, but that is mostly because i have multiple sports to balance.

However i use monday and tuesday as super easy days. Nothing can be considered too easy on those days and stopping early is perfectly fine. Pettit -1 or a 30-45 minute run/walk.

Friday and Sundays will be easier, but more of standard z2, with Sunday going long. Saturday is long + intervals.