The classic idea is that you stress the body, through a workout, and then you recover and reap the benefits during a day or two of rest. You’re also getting your systems back to fighting form so you can hit your next workout with a vengeance.
While this concept is 100% true, figuring out how to apply it can be a real pisser. On one hand ,if you don’t rest enough you don’t recover well and your benefits and future workouts go into a tailspin.
It’s important to understand that there are many factors outside of your workout that influence your recovery requirements. Sleep, stress, play, nutrition, and lifestyle habits can all have a hand in forcing you to require more or less rest. Since these sorts of factors can always be in some sort of flux I’m not a big fan of following a specific rest day formula.
I believe in making rest days a reactive choice. If I’m going gang-buster and feeling terrific I’ll be damned if I’m going to take the weakened off. At the same time I’m not about to force myself to workout for 2 hours when I am feeling like I just got hit by a rabid water buffalo.
In fact, as I write this I am suffering from a cold so I’ve taken the past few days completely off . As I ease back into my workouts they will probably be light and short. As I gain my strength back I will hit them harder.
I seldom take complete days off. I figure, the processes within the body that make or break my fitness don’t take a day off so why should I?
My strategy is to mix lighter and heavier days together and switch between the two as I see fit. If my energy level or ability is low I have a lighter day. If I am feeling amped and charged up I don’t hold back. If I do require complete rest from exercise (Like when I am sick) then I do just that.
The trick is to self adjust the timing and quality of rest to your personal requirements. You’re welcome to to use a plan that places the rest days upon you at certain points but I find this is often a hit-or-miss strategy in a world that has many constantly changing variables.
Rest if and when you need to rest and put the pedal down when your nitrous is charged and you have fresh tires.
It takes time, practice and skill but I promise you, it will be worth it.