Continued – Are you really recovering from Training?

May 16, 2012

– The truth about Rest!

By Coach Kaehler

Are you scheduling enough de-training, or rest time, into your current workout?   When designing a balanced workout program you must be sure to consider when and how much rest to integrate into your program both during and at the end of each training cycle.   Long periods of training without proper rest can lead to injury, illness, or poor results.  Too much down time, however, could lead to a loss of fitness or even sub-optimal training progress.

Many athletes are wired to train more, not less.   And unless you’re hurt or sick, taking days off is not is almost never an option.  Injury and illness may be one of Nature’s ways of making you rest, but the lost training time comes with a price.  You can mitigate this with carefully chosen rest periods and scheduled days off during your normal weekly routine.  Not only will they help prevent declines in performance, but the down time will also help reduce your risk of injury and illness.

Training cycles generally run from three to 12 weeks or longer and should be followed with a rest period.  These are in addition to any days you take off in your weekly schedule.  I recommend a rest period after training for a minimum of three weeks, and generally no longer than five weeks.  For each week you train during a cycle, you should schedule in one rest day.   Therefore, after training for three weeks, you would schedule in a three-day rest period.   After a five week training cycle, you would schedule in a rest period lasting anywhere from three to five days.

There are two kinds of rest: active and complete.  Active rest days are very light training days, lasting no longer than approximately one-third of the time of your longest weekly workout (e.g.  If your longest workout is 90 minutes then your active rest session should be no longer than 30 minutes).   Complete rest days are totally off- meaning no weights, Pilates, running, or yoga, etc.  A three-week training cycle would be followed by a three-day rest period with at least one of those days including active rest.  A five-week training period would be followed by up to a five-day rest period.    For those who find it too stressful to take a day off completely from activity, a 30 minute walk at just above your resting heart rate is acceptable.   During the rest periods that follow a training cycle, you should take at least but no more than two complete rest days off in a row, and then mix in active and complete rest as needed.  If you are training less than five days per week there is less of a concern about getting enough rest and so you may not feel the need for the scheduled rest periods.  One advantage of using these frequent scheduled rest periods is that it allows for an effective recovery even after an intense training cycle.  It also gives coaches and elite athletes the option of training seven days per week with multiple daily sessions if needed.

You also need to factor in the number of years of training experience you have when determining the appropriate amount of rest time to factor into your workout cycle.  Recreational athletes with less training experience should regularly schedule active and/or complete rest days into their weekly schedules.  Elite athletes are generally better able to handle training at high workloads for short periods of time (three to five weeks) without weekly rest, while more experienced club level rowers should consider scheduling in at least one day of rest.  Novice rowers who have less than two years of training under their belts need up to three days of rest each week.

Regardless of how experienced you are, rest is an integral part of any training program. Allowing your body to recover properly from training will lead to greater long term results on the water.


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