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The Rest Day Conundrum

Rest day. Just the thought of it is enough to get any athlete excited.
A day of doing nothing, no training anyway, replenishing the nutrient stores, doing the general admin from the week and making sure you’re fresh for the next block of training.

But do we really need a rest day? Is it just me that gets bored of not being able to train for a whole day once a week?!

Jan Frodeno the current ironman world champion has said that he can take up to three days at a time off training just to make sure he is ready to get every session done at 100%. Although GB rowing coach Dan Harris gives his athletes a morning off once a month, and he’s produced some of the biggest ergos in the under 23 rowing squad!

Had to be careful of the typo there 😉

So what really is the benefit of a rest day? And do we really need one every week.

Well first things first, any good coach will tell you that you need to listen to your body. If you’re overly run down, picking up too many niggles or getting ill. You need to stop, take a rest, get some sleep, get some food in and come back in a couple of days time.
And we all know it’s a fine line between form and failure, many athletes can be injured or ill just after peak as their bodies are pushed right to the limits, working harder than they ever have before.

And yes, I’m also well aware that you don’t get fitter from training, you get fitter from recovering. Recovering well is the key to any athletes success, as much of it happens behind the scenes as it does in the session. Prehab and rehab, fuelling and resting. All major parts of the process.

But if you’re eating well, getting 8-10 hours of sleep a night, and all that’s really making you take a rest day is a little bit of fatigue in the legs, then why not crack on?


Some dinner time healthies







Sure, do a lighter session or two once a week, cut back the intensity or the mileage, get some active recovery in. But a rest day doesn’t necessarily have to mean you completely take the day off, there are still gains to be had! A rest day once every two weeks can be just as effective, pushing 100% out of every session for 12-14 solid days can really take it out of you, although testing the physical and mental ability is only going to make you come back stronger, fitter, better.

Everyone is different and each athlete is going to have something that works that may not work for everyone else. Listening to your body is key, but don’t miss a days training just because the bloke in the office wants you to be lazy and stop him feeling guilty!

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