Physical training is a continuous cycle of breaking yourself down and building yourself back up. The general idea is to be just a little better, stronger or faster than you were yesterday. To optimize this process, it’s crucial to provide yourself with rest. The stresses of training can play havoc on your body and your mind. Introducing an appropriate amount of rest into your routine can:
- Improve overall recovery potential
- Facilitate a healthy, positive mind-state while training
- Allow you to vary the intensity of your workout
- Prolong your athletic life/career
- Increase performance
How Much Rest Should You Get?
There’s no scientific formula to determine the exact amount of rest you should be getting. That would be nice, wouldn’t it? People’s training schedules and bodies will vary tremendously from person to person, so identifying an exact amount is essentially impossible. But there’s plenty of science to suggest roughly how much rest you need in order to operate at your best.
The general rule of thumb for amateurs: try two rest days per week. During these rest days, feel free to get moving a little, but ensure that no hard training is taking place. This period of low activity allows your body to perform all its necessary healing and muscle-growing functions. Pros might be able to handle just one rest day per week thanks to stronger bodies and routines, but it’s fine (and advisable) to take more. Days and weeks leading up to competition can already put stress on competitors when travel and planning become factors.
The Mental Aspect
Don’t forget about the mind! It’s easy to prioritize training over rest—professional athletes and dedicated enthusiasts do it all the time. After all, why stop doing something you love? Just remember that your free time is valuable. Spending time with family, friends or just participating in another hobby can help cleanse the mind and prepare you for more rigorous training. Besides, what’s the point of all that training if you can’t brag about it to somebody?
Take care of yourself; rest is a vital part of your performance and your health. You’ll be a better cyclist for practicing a healthy work/rest regimen.