Recovery refers to the time you allow your body to rest between workouts.
Why is it important?
If you don’t get enough rest, you won’t see any results – no matter what your goal. Fat loss and increases in strength, muscle mass or muscular endurance all occur outside the gym, while your body recovers and adapts. Lack of rest may lead to overtraining – signs of which include a feeling of general fatigue, aching, depression, and decreased performance. Incorporating rest days also helps maintain a better balance between home, work and the gym.
How much recovery do I need?
Recovery for bulking up 5-7 days
It takes up to 7 days for muscles to fully recover and add size. Training a muscle group prior to this is likely to do more harm than good. You have fully recovered 48 hours after any soreness has gone. So, for example, if you train your biceps on Monday, they’ll ache Tuesday and Wednesday (compensation), and you should rest Thursday and Friday to allow growth (super compensation). You can train other muscle groups while one group recovers, but should always leave at least five days between training the same muscle or muscle group.
King tip Should you experience the negative effects of overtraining, take a week or two off. Your body will repair itself and bounce back strong. Make sure you change your program before resuming.
Recovery for building strength and power 2-3 days between the same exercise movements
Strength and power gains are dependent on the efficiency of the neural pathways which control the relevant movement pattern. The law of specificity requires the repetition of the desired movement pattern in order for it to develop. For example, if you want to be able to bench press more weight, you must practice the exercise over and over again to reinforce the neural pathways responsible for maximal muscle contractions. Two to three days is sufficient rest and will allow your nervous system to fully recover.
King tip When recovering, partial variations of exercise movements can be performed. For example, perform a snatch from thigh level rather than the floor.
Recovery for muscular endurance One day or ‘active recovery’
Endurance exercise depletes phosphocreatine and glycogen stores in the muscles. It takes 24-48 hours for these to fully restore. If after 24 hours you feel muscular soreness, have a rest day or do some active recovery (low to medium intensity cardiovascular exercise at 50-70% maximum effort). Ensure that through a seven day cycle you have a minimum of 48 hours off from any form of training.
Recovery for reducing body fat Two days between resistance sessions; one day or active recovery after HIIT
Ensure you take 48 hours off between resistance training sessions. This time can be filled alternatively with high intensity interval training (HIIT) or low intensity longer duration cardiovascular exercise in order to maximise fat burning. HIIT should be followed by a rest day or active recovery. Do no training at all for a minimum of 48 hours a week.