Include some rest in your challenge
Disclaimer: I am not a medical practitioner neither a trainer. I have been training for several years and am sharing my personal experience. The training loads under are used for example. You should seek the help of a professional to have a training plan suited to your needs and capacity.
Rest is often overlooked when we are striving to progress. Our first thought is usually that more is better. In fact, we can even see some training/workout plans online that only focus on increasing. Typically it would be a pushup challenge with 1 pushup on day1, 2 pushups on day2, 3 pushups on day3 … and so on. And yes, this problem also applies for mental activities. Bellow, I will explain for a physical workout, but the same principals can apply to mental activities.
Recent studies show it is not an efficient way to train. Even worse, it can lead to injury or burnout and have a serious impact on your health. So what is the alternative?
Most athletes today follow a similar training pattern. The length of each cycle can vary between training plans, but the idea remains the same. Here is how is organized
You want to limit your training to 3 sessions per week. But each session isn’t equal. If you train for a marathon you will not train long distances 3 times a week. Most people who do several long-distance training per week usually get injured within a few weeks, then stop training to recover and get back to training in a worse condition than when they started because they were not able to train at all during a month.
Here are the 3 weekly workouts:
- Acceleration workout (interval training)
- Speed workout (threshold training)
- Long-distance workout
Between each of these workouts, you also want to take a day of rest. Don’t go doing all your workouts on the weekend and stress your body in a short period. Give your body time to recover from each session.
Typically, pro athletes won’t add a lot of intense sessions in their training. They will keep the 3 intense workouts we just saw above and will add easy training sessions in between. Note that there is still a rest day in the week even for pros.
- Day1: interval training
- Day2: Easy training
- Day3: threshold training
- Day4: Easy training
- Day5: long distance training
- Day6: Easy training
- Day7: Rest day
So as you can see, there is a lot of variation of intensity within a week, and there is plenty of time for the body to recover. But you can also see similar patterns on longer terms on a training plan.
Taking a wider view of a training plan is also interesting to notice how the rest is included in addition to the weekly rest.
Let’s take a typical training plan based on the number of hours spent training per week.
- Week 1: 10 hours
- Week 2: 11 hours
- Week 3: 12 hours
- Week 4: 9 hours (rest week)
- Week 5: 11 hours
- Week 6: 12 hours
- Week 7: 13 hours
- Week 8: 10 hours (rest week)
In this example, you can see there is a week dedicated to resting with a lot less training than the previous 3 weeks.
Over-training vs resting
You might think that you are actually not improving as fast and as much as you can with all that resting/recovery time. But studies show that these rest/recovery times allow your body not to break. Keeping a high-intensity training continuously will most likely lead to injury and stop you completely from training for many weeks or even months.
So if you are joining a 30-day challenge, just be honest with yourself and straight forwards with others. Include the resting days in your challenge, so that as a result you are able to sustain your challenge in the long run and get most benefits from it.