Question regarding rest days

At the moment due to lockdown I’m only doing daily rides on the turbo. About 10-14 hrs a week Low Z2 and Aerobic Threshold rides with 1 X Vo2 max (Billat 30/30s) a week with maybe an hour or so of low cadence Tempo sprinkled in.
I’m 64 and retired so with lockdown I’m doing nothing but resting between rides! With a weekly TSS of 400-550 am I ok foregoing a weekly rest day and only having one if I feel I need one due to a combination fatigue, poor sleep and low morning HRV.

For me, I know I’m looking for a rest day when I get on the trainer and start thinking when can I get off.

For example, yesterday was a 90 minute high Z2 session on the turbo. 15 minutes in, I had difficulty mentally hitting the wattage and I was thinking, “Ok, I’m done. When can I allow myself to get off.” I dropped down to active recovery and was still uninterested. I then challenged myself to stick it out for 40 minutes. I made it to 38, got off and didn’t look back. Today was a scheduled rest day, very appreciated!

1 Like

@carytb, great question. I think @Schils brings up a great point as well. That feeling of being disinterested in the trainer is a big sign for me too. That usually comes with the feeling of generally sluggish and cruddy legs if I try to go hard.

As to your question of foregoing a weekly rest day, you might get a number of different responses on this one, but my feeling is that one day roughly every week is critical. I would go between 7-10 days before a day off for day to day training. If we’re doing something more intensive with highly concentrated workloads, I would intersperse rest days more frequently, every 2-3 days roughly.

Coach Ryan


@carytb esp at age 64, more rest/recovery is never a bad thing. Presumably you’ve had years and perhaps even decades to accumulate that aerobic fitness, so skipping one of those rides every week is really going to have almost no perceptible effects on your overall fitness and is a much better plan for both a physical and mental break. This is really the time to consider incorporating some form of resistance training and also some form of impact-loading exercise to maintain overall health and durability rather than just cardiovascular fitness. So I’d happily replace two of the aerobic days by having one be a total rest day and another having some other form of exercise.

Regardless, enjoy!
Stephen Cheung


Could I get some feedback on rest week strategies?

The last podcast mentioned hormonal and immune systems benefits for recovery rides. I agree with the theory. Is there scientific evidence to support recovery rides versus complete rest, and/or other forms of active recovery (walking)?

Does maintenance strength training prevent anabolism in the rest week? @trevor has explained we need to let the pain killers clear to allow ideal conditions for repairing and building during the rest phase. Can I continue to do some upper body work and core strength work during the rest week? I would keep sessions short and relatively light. I would avoid leg work, except stabilizers (glut med activation etc).

Would the length of the rest phase usually vary with the preceding microcycle load? For example, I just finished a hard 3 weeks and I’m planning a full week easy. For my next cycle, I’m planning a hard 2 weeks and then I’m hoping 3-4 days will be enough. Do the process of clearing the stress hormones and entering the phase of ideal anabolism happen faster when there is less preceding training load?



I will add that I have had amazing success with:

4 complete days off every 30 days.

1 day a week completely off work and training (for a person with a job!) This can be tricky as many do their long rides on the weekends. I have had some success with a two-a-day or really long day on one weekend day, then the other off.

People find this very hard at first, to do nothing. Which is often a sign they need to learn how to do nothing or at least something else.

Many times in the week following the 4 complete days off, athletes feel amazing, they then start to understand how rest can make them feel.


In his book Fast After 50, Joe Friel recommends a modified training week that includes more rest day.

I don’t recall the exact pattern, but it was something along the lines of using a 9-day training “week” and including two rest/recovery days within each of those 9-day periods.

I have found as a 40+ year-old runner that I need more rest or I get injured. When I’m training regularly, I like to use Friel’s approach, and I’ve felt that it’s both more achievable for me to fit into a busy work/life and also keeps me healthier.


1 Like

So do you do 3 weeks of work, then a rest week where you take 4 consecutive days off? Then do you start up training again, or do you just ramp up training for the rest of that week, and start structure again the following week?

I’ve always struggled with recovery weeks. It seems like when I do take them the legs feel horrible and it’s hard to get back into the swing of things. And I struggle with how much to rest and knowing when I’ve had enough rest and am ready to return to training. Can you use the performance manager chart to help know when you’re rested enough? Do you typically want form to turn positive or at least close to 0?
For example I just did a 3 week base block and was hovering around -40-50 form. Now through Thursday I’m at -15 still but feel very rested.
Any guidance on how to maximize a recovery week to make sure I am assimilating my training well would be helpful.

Oh dear…this is a tough one but here I go.

Even with my masters athletes 45-60 years old, I maybe go 5-8 weeks without a rest week.

Now…what happens during the training allows this to happen.

Once you get to a certain level of fitness, and have a ceiling of available time, it is actually hard to go too negative.

Getting to -40/50 is pretty deep, you can see this athlete is very rarely below -30. He could handle it if he was a full time athlete for sure, but he is 61, still has a pretty busy life so we are at his max. If I try and train him harder he will get worse (been working together for 11 years).

So we go consistent and try and have his threshold near 300w in time for his stage race in April which will get a 1 or 2 spot down to 45 years old…so he is pretty happy to keep standing on a box as he gets older.

Right now we are around 275w, a few months out looking good.

I have a few athletes that are pretty fast (top 15 overall at BC bike race and same at Pisgah Stage race - they are 45, 51, 61) and they all say the same thing…the don’t take a day off because they get stiff and feel flat. So…they will spin a few days a week for 20-30m easy so this doesn’t happen.

I guess what I do, is find a limit of the athlete based on their fitness and recovery ability, and training consistently over time, which doesn’t see to ever require time off.

If they didn’t have a life, the could train a lot more for sure, so would likely do something more normal 2-3 weeks of work and then some recovery, but that just isn’t the case.

Hope that helps.


Thanks Steve, that is insightful. I think the “recovery week” is referred to frequently, but depending on your situation, it may not make sense to take a whole week off. I like the idea of maybe every 3-4 weeks taking 2 consecutive days off, then a few easy rides that week, then get back at it. I do one recovery ride each week, and take Sundays off, so I think I recover pretty well from my training. I have a low stress life and am on top of my nutrition and sleep. Thanks again.


I don’t know your age, but I’m 56 and life long exerciser to give background. Never suffered an overuse injury from training.

I follow the 3 weeks progression, 1 week recovery pattern.

Each week has one rest day and one recovery day. The rest day is completely off the bike. The recovery day I’ll spin the legs for no more than an hour in my Z1 heart rate, with about 10 mins of z2. The rest day is usually before my long endurance ride. The recovery ride the day before VO2 or Threshold.

During a recovery week I’ll drop the volume of my endurance (Z2) rides to about 60% of the volume of my peak of that (4 week) cycle. The intensity I’ll keep the same but drop the total interval time to 50% of my peak week of that (4 week) cycle. I maintain my training frequency during recovery weeks.

Complete rest weeks are rare unless I’m on holiday. But I also listen to my body. If I have fatigue that hangs around in my bones after food and rest and sleep it probably means I need to either bring a recovery week forward or take a few days complete rest.

The other thing to be aware of is how your legs feel. If you can sense a niggle, maybe your knees are a little sore if you do a squat, or your calf muscles or Achilles feels tight or you’ve got DOMs and it’s not going away. Then it’s time to back off and allow any inflammation to do its job, repair the damage, and go away. Again reduce the load , take a day or more off etc. depending on what you can sense.

Talking with friends; nearly every time a friend has ended up injured they’ve sensed some of the same signs early on that I did, but they ignored it and didn’t back off because their plan or charts didn’t say there was a problem. There are always early signs you ignore at your peril before injury or overtraining / use occurs. Listen to your body no matter what a plan or charts says that day / week.

Since Steve posted his form chart from, here is mine for the last 3 months. I only went below -30 form once in that period, and not for very long. The thin grey vertical line on right is today’s date.

Hope this helps.

1 Like

Thanks for the nice reply Phil. Your schedule sounds very solid.

I’ve shared my weekly plan on another discussion thread, and feel how I schedule my rest days would fit in well to the recent discussion. You’ll see in my shared PMC that I also don’t go beyond -30 form (I touched it once, on a 180Km 8-man Team TT).

My primary rest day is a Friday to cater for the change from PM training (Mon to Thur) to AM training (Sat & Sun). This gives me 37 hours “rest” between Thursday afternoon and Saturday morning, and then about 32 hours “rest” from Sunday morning to Monday afternoon. AS mentioned in the other discussion, if something comes up on any of the 1st 4 days of the week, I have Friday as a spare day. Good planning, some consistency in training resulted in 4 Fridays used in 2022.

This effectively gives me 2x 1.5-day rest days per week. I changed to this schedule about 10 years ago, from the traditional Tuesday to Sunday training week (all in the morning). I turn 50 next month, and this works very well for me. I also add “Planned rest day” to the calendar, so I know where I should be resting. If something comes up, eg. work, illness, travel, etc. and I miss a workout, then I’ll add a comment “Unplanned rest day”. allows me to colour code the “downtime” so I can see it on the PMC (see image below).

I traditionally take just 1 full week off every year, and reduced volume and intensity as life throws it’s curve balls for the 2 months between the end of the season, and the start of the next one. In 2022, an overseas business trip (1 week), annual stock take at work (1 week) and the traditional week after my November A-race. My form at my A-race went mostly to plan (got a top 10 finish in the group I started with).

Many of the cyclists I coach (all club level riders) aren’t as consistent as me, and feel that contributes to them not progressing as well as I do. They skip some hard workouts, ride on planned rest days, as well as a few other “private” reasons.

That’s a really interesting way of looking at rest days as the transition between AM and PM training. I hadn’t thought of that before.