Forum home Mountain biking forum Health, fitness & training

Do I need rest days?

stratcatstratcat Posts: 160
I've just started to get back in to my cycling.
I do a route of about 8 miles (road) including some real lung busting and leg burning climbs on my mtb.
I'm just trying to get back into shape after a few years lay off.

At the moment I'm resting every other day (at the moment my legs need it) but once I've got a bit of fitness up should I keep resting or would two days cycling to one resting be OK.

I don't want to overdo it but I do want to get my fitness levels up to a reasonable level in as quick a time as possible.


  • Dr_DeathDr_Death Posts: 1,262
    You'll always need rest days but as you get fitter they can become less frequent.... Play it by ear, you'll know if you have done too much..

    Trust me, I'm a doctor!
  • stratcatstratcat Posts: 160
    I'm not totally out of shape, and I usually know if I need a rest, but I'm trying to get as fit as I can as quickly as I can and wonder if I would make quicker gains resting less. In the past I've had maybe two rest days a week.

    I'm usually out for an hour, but I do push myself pretty hard and never bimble along admiring the view! :wink:
  • will3will3 Posts: 2,173
    I guess it depends how unfit you are to start with. When I got back into commuting by bike, 8.5ish mile each way'd take me 45 minutes. My thighs would hurt most of the time for about 6 months, gradually getting better. Now after a year it's down to 30 minutes and no pain.
    I wouldn't say you need a rest day, but maybe take it easy every other if you can, cut out the hills. Basically if things start to hurt too much, have a break
  • stratcatstratcat Posts: 160
    I wondered how you commuters went on.

    Thighs hurting for six months :shock: :shock:

    I think you are right about the hills. I could easily miss out the real killer hills but its a bit tricky to avoid hills totally here in Cumbria :lol:

    I wish I could use my bike for work, but I need a car for my job and so it just can't be done :cry:
  • Pippen33Pippen33 Posts: 235
    Where in Cumbria Stratcat, Haven here!!!
  • Surf-MattSurf-Matt Posts: 5,952
    Do a really hilly ten miles (yes I know it's not much but it does the trick) every day and can't get on without it now - it's essential.

    Also do another exercise each day - weights twice a week, running (about twice a week) and surfing when there is some - weekends are occasionally rest days but I find no real recovery time is needed.

    You need recovery time when muscle building (critical to let them recover and re-build themselves) but with cardio, I think withih reason, you don't need a lot - apart from after a mega event like a long race, triathlon, etc.
  • will3will3 Posts: 2,173
    stratcat wrote:

    Thighs hurting for six months :shock: :shock:

    well I've never knowingly taken it easy getting to work. :wink:
  • stratcatstratcat Posts: 160
    Thanks for the advice guys :D

    I was out yesterday and went out for what I thought would be an easy one, but I just can't resist those hills :lol::lol:

    Legs feel fine and the old heart and lungs are definately getting in shape again.

    I think I will follow Matts advice and also listen to my own body. Its unlikely I will be able to get out every single day anyway :oops: (but I will try!)
  • endurojcbendurojcb Posts: 167
    Just keep yourself below a maximum of 80-85i sh % of your capability (Max heat rate = 220 bpm - your age. I'm 29 so for me it's 191 bpm x 85% = 162 bpm) If you've got a heart rate monitor this will be a lot easier to judge. But as a rule of thumb you should always be able to jump up a notch if needs be like sprinting up to traffic lights before they go red!

    You can go all out on at least one ride a week, but 80-85% is a good level to build your fitness up without burning out! (Oh, and eat LOADS of fresh fruit and veg and cut out any junk! You'll feel better for it!)

    If you start to get a sick feeling then you're pretty much at your 100% VO2 MAX level (the level where your body physically can't get any more oxygen into your blood (Max Volume of Oxygen)) and you're running on full boost!!!

    1 in 3 days is good for a rest day or just very light cycling.
    2007 Merlin Malt 4
  • Surf-MattSurf-Matt Posts: 5,952
    Hmmm - I often run/cycle to the point of feeling queasy.

    Otherwise it's not "proper" exercise :lol:
  • stratcatstratcat Posts: 160
    I didn't realise thats why you got the sick feeling.
    I don't get that unless I've had a long lay off.

    1day in three sounds good.

    I've cut out drinking (beer that is :( ) and that combined with the improved fitness has given me loads of energy during the day and I'm sleeping so well at night. Trying to eat more veg, but struggling a bit. I do eat fruit every day, some dried fruit in the poridge in the morning, an apple and banana at lunch. and I have salad on my lunch sandwiches.

    I can definately feel the improvement of being back on the bike, even after a couple of weeks.
  • Surf-MattSurf-Matt Posts: 5,952
    Strat - nice one! Diet sounds spot on.

    Part of the reason I do my daily 10 miler is so that I CAN drink beer!

    I also take a multivit and mineral supplement (cheapo Tesco ones) and fish oil capsule daily - seems to help a bit more.
  • endurojcbendurojcb Posts: 167
    Surf-Matt wrote:
    Hmmm - I often run/cycle to the point of feeling queasy.

    Otherwise it's not "proper" exercise :lol:

    Quite right. As long as it's not every day (unless you're training to be a pro or something) There's nothing wrong with getting that feeling once or twice a week. It just means you're going near on your max and makes you feel ALIVE!! The fitter you get the better your body becomes at absorbing oxygen so you can go harder and faster before getting that feeling.

    If you train a high altitude (or go on holiday biking in the Alps for example) your body will create more red blood cells (the ones that carry oxygen to your muscles) to take into account that there is less oxygen up there, because your body needs the same amount of oxygen whatever altitude you're at. If you then go home and go on a fast session on your regular route, you'll be amazed at how much faster you can do it without keeling over! This is because your body still has all those extra red blood cells (which will disappear over a week or so after retruning to normal altitude) and as a result of there being more oxygen near sea level, you can absorb huge quantities of the stuff! When I go biking in the Alps I always feel a little short of breath even when going to sleep for the first couple of days. It's called aclimatisation.

    God did I actually sound like I might have learnt something at school for a minute there??
    2007 Merlin Malt 4
  • Surf-MattSurf-Matt Posts: 5,952
    I find a flight of stairs hard going in the Alps for the first day or so!

    My mentality (shared by many) is that if you don't push it, you don't improve. So doing exercise without your heart in it is not far off pointless.

    Always used to cringe when the "light sweat" brigade went to the gym, ponced about then minced off again. What's the point?!
  • stratcatstratcat Posts: 160
    I'm definately with you there matt, excercise is a messy business :lol:

    I have in the past drank waaay too much beer and coming up to the age of 40 (early mid life crisis?) I have realised the middle age spread is kicking in :cry: .
    I refuse to give in without a fight so I'm towelling the bike again.

    I definately believe in pushing it. There is a really steep hill in my route that I have now included. Last week I couldn't get up it in one go. I only got half way and I had to stop :oops:
    I'm now getting up it in one go in a fairly low gear, but I will aim to get up it in a higher gear next time.
    No pain no gain :D
  • AmosAmos Posts: 438
    For cardio you dont need to rest like you would do if you were lifting weights. If you do push it a lot you might find yourself feeling tired, and your body will tell you when to have a day off.
  • stratcatstratcat Posts: 160
    Thanks amos,

    I guess I was originally thinking like weight training needing a day off for the muscles to rebuild.
  • LunaeventerLunaeventer Posts: 420
    But even when you are doing cardio training there will be micro damage to muscles, etc - rest days are beneficial to let your body repair leading to fitness gains.
  • troutytrouty Posts: 198
    EnduroJCB i think the calculation to work out a percentage of your maximum is as follows.

    1. You need to know your average resting pulse and your maximum pulse for a guven activity.


    Max pulse minus resting pulse x .85 (point 85 the percentage you want)) then add your resting pulse. Would give you 85% of your max.

    ie: for me max pulse 182 on bike. Resting pulse = 48

    182 - 48 = 134 x .85 = 113.9 + (48) = 161.9

    85% of max = 161.9

    Hope this helps
Sign In or Register to comment.