January 30, 2004, Newsletter Issue #171: Q & A: Recovery Week(s)

Tip of the Week

A: The anser is a matter of intensity. For example, if someone always doing the same workouts, then they are probably very efficient at them and may never need a recovery week, though they should take them anyway in the form on easy weeks, fun stuff, vacations, etc. But results will suffer from this then those workouts are pretty much for maintenance. Even if they are hard workouts for others, they won`t be for someone who does the same thing all the time.

The harder you workout the more often you need recovery weeks. For example, when Lance Armstrong is training his hardest he takes one every 3 weeks, which is the shortest "block" you want to use to allow for an adaptive phase and a growth phase.

People that are less fit don`t need to change as often because their adaptive phase can be up to 10 weeks, though the average time to begin to plateau is around 6 weeks of the same type of workouts.

The harder you work, the more you need the break, get it?

Now, a `recovery` week doesn`t have to be easy. I`d reckon Lance`s would kill a lot of people because they feature things like 6 hour rides. But he`ll keep his heart rate below his lactate threshold all the time, so for him his body is getting stronger and not breaking down.

So in your case a recovery week might feature a lot of low-level cardio, stetching, yoga, pilates, etc. It doesn`t have to be a week off. It needs to be a break from what you were doing because chances are that somewhere between 3 and 6 weeks your growth curve has plateau`d with that workout, so you need a week of lower intensity in order for your body to re-build and get strong, when it` s ready to go again.

One more note: if you`ve gone too long without one you may cause caused what`s called excessive cumulative microtrauma, or overtraining. In this case, a recovery week could stretch into two or three or as long as you need to get your strength back.

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