In 90X, the “recovery week” is really more of a transition week because it’s not really easier than actual blocks themselves. In fact, many people find P90X recovery week to be the hardest weeks of all. And though they may feel like harder weeks they aren’t on most of the systems being targeted. They feel hard because they include a lot of synergistic movements that are just plain difficult to do. But the overall breakdown that occurs is much less.
It’s a little difficult to understand growth curves, recovery, and how or when to actually peak while doing 90X (or any program). We’re getting so many questions about it that I’ll be writing an article on it soon for the Beachbody newsletter. I’ll explain, in brief, what’s going on. It’s in the X guide (I know, since I wrote it) but here is some further explanation. The concept is simple but understanding it in relation to your own training is more subtle. Many people feel like they won’t make progress unless they’re training hard all the time, but that’s not how the body works.
A block of training generally targets something specific. You may target muscle growth (hypertrophy), muscle strength, pure power, endurance, increased VO2 max, etc. A block generally assumes that a foundation has been laid, or a “Foundation Phase” can also be a block. Each phase goes through an adaptive period followed by a growth period (also called mastery). Once your body masters the said curriculum it tapers off. This tapering is referred to as a plateau because the ascending curve associated with the fitness gains levels off because your body has gotten used to the training.
A recovery period allows the microtrauma of the above training to heal. If done correctly other aspects of fitness can be gained as the main elements are healing. When the recovery period ends you should be stronger and ready to begin the next phase (or block) or training or to do an event you’ve been training for. Recovery periods don’t necessarily have to be easy but they do have to rest whatever was targeted during the preceding block. Harder recovery weeks, such as in P90X, are often referred to as transition phases because they are designed more to aid transition than simply speed recovery. Essentially, as you are resting the targeted areas of your latest block you are targeting new areas. In this case, stabilizer muscles, flexibility, and coordination. If you were recovering for an event in which you wanted to peak, you would choose an easier recovery period that focuses more on resting and less on improving other areas.
The length of a recovery period varies as do the length of training blocks. The 3 weeks “on”, 1 week “off” 90X plan is an advanced scenario. Training blocks are often set up differently. 6 weeks on and 2 off is common. An effect block will almost never exceed 10 or so weeks. The perfect scenario is variable, meaning that you would graph off of your training and begin recover once your gains declined. Then you would begin your next round as soon as you were recovered.
In my example, I have overtrained slightly on the bike over the last few weeks but my abridged workouts in X mean that my growth curve there is still accelerating. So my week on the bike will target full recovery while my week of X will target improvement. My X training is going to begin to incorporate some climbing. My bike/cardio stuff will begin adding more runs/hikes (still can’t run yet, hmmm).
Progress update: My strength has improved a lot. I’m doing more push-ups during sets of workouts than I could do as a max in April. Almost ditto for pull-ups. My shoulder, which felt awful at the start of the program is moving with much less impingement. I’m tired on the bike but with the virtual Giro that was to be expected. I think my time trial this week will show that I’m fitter. Given the stress level of my life over the past few months I feel pretty damn good. I think the next block is going to be great.
Recovery Week – I plan to bike most days and run/hike the others. All biking will be easy except for a time trial up Emigration and one up Mill Creek. I will try and begin climbing a little, but no hard days at all.
M – Core Syn
T – Yoga
W – Stretch
T- Core Syn
F – Yoga
S, S – play outside