Why do we even ride during a recovery week?

So currently getting my butt kicked on short power build low volume + outdoor rides to get me into the TSS 500’s and have a quick one about recovery weeks. Why do we even ride at all? If it’s about letting the body bounce back and get stronger…what about just skipping all training for 4-5 days then getting back after it? I’m guessing there is a good reason, but seriously, why? Thanks :slight_smile:

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Skipping days is fine. Dialing down the intensity to Z1 (active recovery) is also fine.

An entire week, completely off the bike, might result in your fitness going backwards. At least you may lose some momentum in a Build phase.

If you’re consistently going into recovery weeks totally thrashed, you might not have the base fitness to support your current volume. You can keep doing what you’re doing for now, but keep that in mind for the future.

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Most coaches don’t use a full week. I think the only reason Trainerroad have a whole 8 days is so it fits in with the plan i.e. the next block starts with a test. Usually you’d see athletes take a day or two off followed by a few easy days, then a retest. I tend to do Monday off, Tue, Weds, Thurs short endurance rides, getting shorter each day, then Friday off, Sat test with a little endurance tacked on and then a 2+ hour endurance ride on Sunday.

If you were take the week off completely, without any exercise at all, then you’d probably lose some of the fitness gains you’ve made.

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Taking a week off won’t affect your aerobic capabilities much if at all, but it will leave you “flat”, for lack of a better term. Top end will be lacking, and while that might be true even with just easy riding, keeping your aerobic system primed with an easy week blunts the effect of that drop off.

Most athletes don’t need a full week to be ready to work after a typical training block, but in the long term fight, a full week is (a) easier to schedule and plan for, especially with busy athletes who don’t have ample time every single day, and (b) good for a mental reset.

If I’m prepping an athlete for a specific event and we are in the final couple of months, I am less likely to give the full week for recovery. But over the course of six months, those week long blocks of easy work keep motivation higher and mental freshness up.


Yeah I was thinking more 4-5 days but not the full 8 days a “recovery week” is in a plan.

I sure will. This is one of those things…“fatigue is part of the process” and “FTFP” vs. “oops, buried myself (again)”. I’ll definitely keep it in mind!

Now that’s a good question…if scheduling isn’t an issue, would you be more motivated after, say, 4-5 days off of the bike completely or 8 days with a mix of days off and short aerobic rides?

I’m doing a week off the bike because I lack the self-control to keep it in z1 or z2. I’ve been going for walks instead of trying to do an hour on the bike… a walk is self-limiting for me.

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Depends on the athlete. For me personally, I wouldn’t want the time fully off. I like riding and perceive value from just being in the saddle for easy riding. Others - particularly if you’re in a big hole physically or mentally, would benefit from a few days full off.

This is one drawback of something like TrainerRoad vs. individual objective coaching… and don’t get me wrong, I love TR and have used it myself for two years now. Cookie cutter plans, even using great tools like plan builder and such, aren’t as personalized to the individual as they could be, even if they’re plenty good enough for 80% of us! Chad’s plans are optimized for a certain type of athlete with certain schedule constraints assumed.

You don’t just pop it into erg mode and watch tv or listen to podcasts?

@Joe…Just a quick google search on why we exercise during a rest week…To keep blood sugar regulated, metabolism elevated, blood pressure regulated, more oxygenated blood to muscles, helps lymphatic system circulation, hormones released used to aid blood vessels stay more compliant, enzymes that help metabolize fat and sugars continue to be produced.

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I’ve always viewed recovery weeks as a really personal thing- everyone’s going into them with different amounts (and types of fatigue), and that’s not accounting for external factors like sleep and nutrition.
I like to approach them as a mental recovery just as much as a physical one, so honestly I’ll take some liberties that I wouldn’t take during a normal training week and just do what I want. Sometimes that’s a couple of days off entirely, sometimes it’s a lower intensity week, sometimes I’ll do scaled-back versions of my normal workouts, or some skills practice if I’m feeling motivated. Either way I’m just trying to get to the next week feeling like I’m ready to go again, so I don’t get too hung up on specifics and trying to adhere to every workout perfectly. (save that for training blocks!)

Specifically in regard to taking time entirely off though, I find anything over 2 days tends to mess with my head make it way harder to get back into regular training. Did a similar thing recently after a 12 hour ride and in between a disrupted routine, lack of motivation and generally feeling like a manatee I found it really difficult to get back to my normal level of consistency.

My trainer is in the attic so I’m outdoors now, but in the winter I could I suppose. I still lift weights and do other stuff on recovery weeks. I just got a smart trainer a couple months ago so I often forget about erg mode.

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A full recovery week creates a complete havoc in my progression. If you add an ftp bump even worse.

On my recovery week I don’t touch the bike Sunday and Monday. Do the prescribed spin Tuesday and test Thursday. I fill the rest of the week with easier versions of the weeks ahead.

In the week header, Chad states that you can cut short your recovery.

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I’m pretty sure I don’t rest enough. I hate being off the bike for days and days as getting on my bike is my way to de-stress and get out of the house away from the family. (Especially now during covid.) And I hate walking for just the sake of walking.

These days I might take an extra day or two off that and really try to restrain myself on rides and be sure to stay at Z1/2. Sometimes it’s hard to accomplish and a 1 hour easy ride turns into 2 hours with some efforts.

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