Rest and Recovery

David O'Driscoll

When it comes to recovering from a session and preparing for your next session there are some steps that we should all take.

  • Sleep
  • Nutrition
  • Lifestyle
  • Job

An Introduction To My Earlier Years

Between the ages of 24 to 27, I really neglected recovery and I just had the simple attitude of I am young and I don’t need too. Well, I was wrong! Between those 3 years I gained weight, had skin outbreaks and generally just felt rubbish all the time.

Let me tell you that recovery and sleep is the most vital thing when it comes to training and performance and it should not be neglected at any stage if you’re either on a fitness journey, losing weight or looking to improve your performance for a specific sport.

My Journey

Between the age of 24 to 27, I would travel to multiple gyms, lift heavier loads than needed and abuse sleep and rest as I thought I had no real specific goal with my training and just tried to exert myself 100% every session. What was the outcome? Chronic fatigue and days off work, not to mention napping multiple times in the day. It was only when lockdown happened that I started studying about recovery and its impact on daily performance and all in all it made total sense.

Family Life and Work

If you have a long commute to work, kids and a busy schedule, do you think it’s realistic to train 6 times a week? No, it’s not! Let’s simplify this to three times a week with enough days between to recover and rest. Mental pressure from work and home life will take a toll on recovery as well as the commuting and multiple hours worked within the day. So let’s look at a typical load for someone who wants to keep fit and have a sustainable work/life balance.

A typical training week would look like this.

Monday: 80% – hit it at a high to moderate pace, maybe running, weights or whatever it is you do to keep fit start the week strong.

Wednesday: 65% – let’s keep this sustainable as we still have one or two sessions remaining before the end of the week.

Friday: 70% – pick it up a little and make sure you give enough to feel like you’ve done some adequate work before the weekend.

Sunday: 40/50% – recovery, and this could be at home or in the local park to make it easier for yourself doing stretching, light cardio, light weights with plenty of breaks in between.

The percentages mentioned stand for the exertion and this is physical and mental effort. That’s why it’s important to not go 100% all the time. If you want to keep fit and healthy sustainably for a long period of time (for example the whole year) you have to pace yourself.

Building It Up Slowly

You will never see a marathon runner starting his journey at 26.2 miles (or 42 km). When he or she started their journey they were probably running 10 miles (or 16 km) a week. Over a period of a year, they would have to build their running load up to a sustainable and manageable amount if running isn’t their full-time career and they have a full-time job (if it is their full-time career, then we are talking a slightly different language).


In terms of rest and recovery, we are talking having days off from physical activity. If you’re in a role that is physically demanding, then again, make sure you’re eating calorie-dense foods and maintaining the gym three times a week. If you can do more then do so but not at the risk of burnout.


Moving forward with sleep, it’s a given that you should be sleeping between 7 and 9 hours a night. I know that when I was working full time and would have my daughter to stay, I would sneak a nap in at work for 20 minutes and be good to go again (don’t tell my boss this!). However, generally speaking, stick to a routine in regard to your sleep as your body clock will prefer this long term. For example, bed at 9 pm and awake at 5 am or 6 am. This way you’re getting 8 to 9 hours to sleep consistently.

There are many variables with recovery and performance and if you’d like to know more then feel free to speak to me on a personal basis and I will be happy to advise.

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