An Alternative Approach To Rest Days

Conventional wisdom is to not train or exercise everyday. Some suggest to train every other day or never two days in a row. Some suggest scheduling in one rest day per week. I understand the rationale behind this to stop over training or burnout. But when you look at some of the best athletes in the world, they have generally shunned this advice.

I don’t believe in rest days

Alistair Brown Lee 2x Olympic Gold Medalist Triathlete.

If I train on a Sunday day that’s 52 more sessions a year than my competition

Michael Phelps 23 x Olympic Gold medalist Swimmer

I am not saying everybody should train relentlessly day after day, but maybe we are under estimating how far we can push our bodies and by scheduling too frequent rest day’s we may be missing the opportunity to create the correct level of overload to force adaptation.

One approach could be to not plan a rest day in your schedule during a given training block and then use a recovery week or active rest week to ensure you give the body the time to develop and repair. I  have also found that unless you’re a full-time athlete life gets in the way and often a rest day is forced upon us anyway due to conflicts in obligations or schedule. So by planning a rest day there is risk you end up missing an opportunity to train and having more rest than is needed.

Going forward I still acknowledge rest and recovery is important but I also think it is important to test your limits and boundaries of how far you can push your body. Some people thrive with limited rest and avoid injury. Other people need scheduled rest days frequently in their schedule to recover and optimise performance. Whats most important is learning to understand your body and not rely on a preplanned schedule to dictate when you need to recover.