The question “How many days should I rest each week?” has received myriad answers over the years. On the one hand, you have the hardgainer-type workouts that advocate working out one day per week or even less. Then you have programs like the Bulgarian-style method that advocate working out for hours per day on every day of the week.
Luckily, we have a lot of information when it comes to optimal rest days, and researchers are performing more studies all the time. One such study came out this month in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. In this case, the participants of the study were young amateur soccer players with years of competitive experience and the topic of the study was plyometric training. The researchers wondered how the rest periods between plyometric training sessions would affect athletes who were currently training and competing.
Plyometrics were also chosen because of the common rest recommendations. Generally, the more intense an exercise is, the longer the recommended rest period. Because of the high-intensity nature of plyometrics, it is usually recommended to rest at least one day before doing them again. The athletes in this study were drilling twice per week and competing once, although they did take a few days off from intense activity or competition prior to this test. Aside from those initial rest days, this schedule was a fairly good replication of what might happen for anyone who trains regularly.
There were three groups in this study. Some of the athletes were in a control group and did not perform plyos at all. The athletes in the second group had one day of rest in between two weekly plyometric sessions. In the third group, the athletes also performed plyos twice per week but on consecutive days. Each group was tested for power, speed, agility, and flexibility before and after a six-week period.
The two plyo groups outperformed the control group on every one of the tests, which is no surprise. The interesting bit is that there was no difference between the two plyometric groups. The athletes who rested a day between plyo sessions didn’t get better results than those who did back-to-back sessions.
What this study tells us is that in young trained athletes with a lot of aerobic ability, it probably makes no difference whether they rest between plyo sessions or not. If you coach such athletes, this may allow for more flexibility in your scheduling.
For athletes who are older and perhaps without the aerobic conditioning level of the participants, the results are less definitive. But this study still suggests that if you are in good shape and focus on recovery, your rest day schedule won’t make too much of a difference when it comes to performance.
1. Rodrigo Ramírez-Campillo, et. al., “The Effects of Interday Rest On Adaptation to 6-Weeks of Plyometric Training in Young Soccer Players,” Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, DOI: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000000284