Want to get faster, fitter, stronger? Then make sure you rest!

On my way home from Cornell this weekend I overheard a teammate talking about wanting to be faster and stronger. Looking forward to training camp, they were talking about all the great work that is going to happen down in Florida. When the coach mentioned the rest week prior to training camp the athlete balked at the thought of taking some down time.

You want to be stronger? faster? fitter?

Of course you do, that’s why you train.

Did you know that you’ll make the most gains when you take your rest week?

I wrote about rest back in September when I sprained my ankle and was forced to take my break earlier than I wanted. I spoke more about respecting your injury and allowing it to heal properly.

This time I want to talk about how important rest and periodization is in training.

There are two types of ‘rests’ in training: Active vs. Passive  recovery.

Active Recovery is when you slow down but you still keep moving. In terms of periodization, it is a week of easier training after 3 or 4 weeks where you are increasing volume and/or intensity. That active week is where you cut your volume and intensity by 50%.

Passive Recovery is different. It is the art of doing nothing. I call it an art because not all athletes can practice it. Believe me, I understand that it is challenging to think you will gain from doing nothing. What you have to remember is that prior to do nothing, you did so much. Passive Recovery can happen once or twice a year, maybe even a third time; it is highly athlete dependent.

Passive rest happens because your body needs time to repair and rebuild.

We get stronger when we tear down and build back up; when you do a weight lifting session, when you do intervals, when you do workouts, you create micro-tears in your muscles. IMG_6988When your body repairs these micro-tears that is what makes you stronger, faster, and fitter.

If you never let all the micro-tears properly heal you will miss out on some of the training gains; you have just thrown away hard work you have done!

You will make the most gains when you sit back, take a break and let yourself repair. When you’re coach asks if you want to be the best you’ve ever been, you know you want to say yes. So when your coach asks you to take some passive rest, do it. It’s the only way you will really become the best athlete you can be.