Most cyclists are familiar with the basic concepts of training. To improve fitness, the body is put under stress through a process called periodization, which includes cycles of hard work and rest. If the process is done correctly, your body recovers to become stronger or faster than before. While many cyclists understand the hard work portion of periodization, the amount of rest needed to become a fitter cyclist is less understood.
In the offseason, many cyclists will map out a detailed training schedule that includes specific workouts to improve power, endurance, speed and other cycling skills. But what is often missed when these training schedules are made is the inclusion of rest periods. Without it, burnout, lack of energy and decreased motivation can set in, which will affect your training and your performance on race day.
Let's take a look at how a proper rest schedule can benefit your cycling and improve your overall health.
How Much Is Enough
When you consider the details of your own day-to-day training and rest intervals, be sure that each week has one day that is an off day. While this doesn't mean that you need to be a coach potato on Sundays, it does mean you need to rest your body so that you can fully recover and rebuild for the next week of training.
A brisk walk, light swim or other easy activity should be the most that you do. Stay off the bike to rest your physical body and your mind. Mental fatigue plays just as big of a role in training as physical fatigue. A day off to reset the mind from the monotony of hours on the bike is crucial.
Why You Should Schedule Sleep
Just as you should make a detailed schedule to train, schedule rest into your training plan to ensure that you receive the amount needed to recover properly.
For example, if Monday is your rest day, don't let the temptation of an impromptu training ride break your schedule. Your down time is just as important as the time you spend training. Too much training and not enough rest can lead to that downward spiral of decreased performance and lower energy.