Recovery After Workout – How Long Should You Actually Rest?
Many new lifters are quite puzzled by how long should they wait before their muscles have recovered from a weight training session.
There is no cookie cutter answer to this question since there are so many different variables that will affect the way one recovers from exercise.
I’ll try to help you out and tell you how to speed up your recovery and what different factors will affect your ability to recover and how long you really should wait before hitting the gym again.
Training Frequency & Volume And Recovery
One of the key factors when talking about adequate recovery is the fact that how often you actually train certain bodyparts and how much volume you’ll do with the exercises.
As our bodies are made to adapt to different stimulus, the more frequently you perform the same tasks with your body the better the body adapts.
So if your training your legs once a week, depending how hard you train you probably will be sore about 5-7 days after the workout.
But if you train your legs 2-3 times per week your body will adapt to the constant workload and it will not demand as much as recovery compared to hitting them just once a week.
The other thing is the volume aspect of the training.
For example if you’re training your legs once a week and you perform squat, leg press, some sort of deadlift and pump work with leg extensions & leg curls and you’ll do 4 sets of squats, 4 sets of leg press, 4 sets of deadlifts, 4 sets of pump work and you train to failure you might not be able to recover fully even after 7 days since your exhausting your legs to such a great degree.
If you try to train with this kind of volume 2-3 times per week without steroids, you will burn out yourself really quick.
So the solution is to divide the volume into 2-3 days. So you might do just 1-2 sets per every exercise but 2-3 times per week.
This way your not pushing your body way beyond it’s recovery capacity since the volume per workout is way smaller compared to training just once a week, BUT you will still get all the muscle hypertrophy response divided into 2-3 days per week and your body gets more time to recover and adapt to the training frequency and you will be able to cut down a lot of your recovery time this way!
How Long Your Muscles Need To Recover After Workout?
There is quite a lot of scientific data on this subject matter and all of the research have concluded that muscles will be recovered 24-72 hours after exercise.
When you lift weights your essentially breaking down muscle fiber and as your workout is over your body will want to adapt to the stress your putting it under weights. So it will build the broken down muscle tissue even bigger so it will handle the stress better next time.
This actual building process of your muscles will start quite soon after you finish your workout.
Your body will elevate the protein synthesis so that it can actually build the muscle bigger and stronger. The research have shown that the protein synthesis stays elevated 24 up to 72 hours after exercising.
The data I’ve read suggest that the first 24 hours our protein synthesis will be elevated the most and then gradually start to creep back down to baseline.
I personally stick up with the 24-48 hours eventhough there are evidence that the protein synthesis will be elvated up to 72 hours.
So eventhough you might be sore after 5-7 days after lifting weights, your muscles have recovered fully after 2-3 days!
This is an important fact to embrace since if you’re waiting 7 days to train each body part, you’re basically wasting 96 hours of potential muscle growth.
How Long Your Nervous System Needs To Recover After Workout?
There has not been as much research done by nervous system recovery but what I’ve personally experienced and many other guys I know, is the fact that nervous system takes longer to recover than the actual muscle tissue.
If you get into the state of serious overtraining it might take even months to your nervous system to recover from all the stress you’re accumulated!
If you’re lifting with higher frequency 2-3 times per week and you’re lifting with a crazy amount of volume you’ll start to feel your strength levels to drop and energy to take a dip in the gym.
This is usually the result of frying your nervous system and not giving it enough time to recover.
Although generally if your training, diet and rest is on point, there is no need to worry about frying your nervous system up!
The thing with your nervous system is, it doesn’t get fried up easily but once you step over the line, it will take a lot of time to get it back to baseline.
How Long Your Connective Tissue Needs To Recover After Lifting Weights?
This is a difficult one to give a clear cut answer but the latest research have shown signs that the actual DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) takes actually place in connective tissue rather than the muscle itself.
So the annoying (or enjoyable) soreness you experience after workouts MIGHT actually be your connective tissue that is experiencing the effects of tightness and pain.
Although this is not a well established fact.
Lifting Injury And Recovery After Workout
Injuries are more or less unavoidable when building muscle. Every single person I know that have lifting for a good 3-20 years have had an injury at some point of their lifting career.
Although most of the injuries are really minor ones and not too serious in nature.
Usually if you experience the so called muscle pull you cannot really train any movements that use that injured muscle.
If you feel the injury happening during a workout, stop immediately. The worst thing is to power through the workout with a small nagging pain. After training and the next day you will feel that it was the worst decision of your life!
There is nothing “manly” or tough to force yourself to workout with injury, this will just make your recovery from it longer.
99% of the time the injuries that happen will not hurt too bad when they happen. But as time goes by they will get worse and worse!
The basic muscle pull injuries typically take couple of weeks to recover from and more serious injuries like tearing up your bicep or pec will take months.
How To Speed Recovery After Workout
Here are some tips that will get you recovering faster after workouts:
- Stretching will improve your mobility and elasticity of the muscle and connective tissue and this will lead to reduced injury risk and better recovery.
- Myofascial Release with Foam Roller & Lacrosse Ball is absolutely crucial if you’re training hard. During intense workouts your muscles will develop scar tissue within the fascia and they need to be opened to enable the muscle to function properly. If your muscles get too tight it will lead to all kinds of aches and pains and decreased performance.
- Eating enough to ensure that you’ll give your muscles the proper nutrition to build them bigger and stronger.
- Working out with a higher training frequency will help your body adapt to the lifting and you will experience less soreness and more gains this way.
- Using proper form while lifting is really important since it ensures that your keeping the load on the target muscle rather than your joints.
Conclusion On Recovery After Workout
As you can see it’s impossible to give an exact answer that will apply to every single case out there since there are so many different variables that come into play.
Ontop of all the facts that will affect your recovery, we all all different and have different bodies so we recover in a different pace.
But the ideas I presented in this article will work greatly to most people and most of the time. They are good general guidelines to implement.
I hope you found this artcile helpful. If you have any questions or ideas, drop me a line down below. I’d love to hear what you think!
Remember to train hard and train SMART!