Weight Training Questions - Rest and Recovery
For Muscle Growth
Weight Training Question:
have read that muscle needs time to rest after each workout. Many
articles say that muscle tissue needs 24-48 hours rest? I have been
thinking about it and if your body only gets rest when you are sleeping,
how can you get a complete 24-48 hour window of recovery when most
people are doing active things every day like housework, running
errands, walking the dog, etc.?
Weight Training Answer:
The word "rest" for recovery basically means doing
as little as possible (cut down on any strenuous activities) after
your workouts. This basically means to avoid overdoing it with a
labor intensive job (construction work, coal mining, etc) or any
other form of very intense activity. For anyone who lifts weights
and has a labor intensive job, they will need much more time to
recover since their body is working hard all day long. For others
with desk jobs, they will be able to get enough rest unless they
go home after work and decide to re-roof the house.
If you try and limit your physical exertion throughout most of
the day (post-workout), then you should be able to rest and recover
fine (24-48 hours between muscle groups). For optimal results, you
should focus on at least 48 hours of recovery before training the
same muscle group again. Many people incorporate a "split routine"
into their workout plan. A common routine is a "5 day split"
where they will train a specific muscle group each day and only
actually work that muscle group once per week. Here is an example
of a 5 day split routine:
- Monday: Chest and Abs
- Tuesday: Back
- Wednesday: Legs and Calves
- Thursday: Shoulders and Abs
- Friday: Arms (Biceps and Triceps)
you can see with this routine, the individual is only working each
muscle group once per week (except for abs) which is allowing maximum
rest and recovery for their muscle tissues to grow from intense
workouts. The key here is the word intense. If you truly hit your
muscles hard and heavy with compound mass building exercises, you
will need to allow your body this amount of time (1 week) in order
to properly recovery and allow repair and growth to take place.
Abs and calves are smaller muscle groups that can be trained a little
more often (2-3 days per week) since they are smaller muscle groups
that get exercised very often (calves while walking all day and
abs as core stabilizers), but you still want to allow at least 24
hours of full rest and recovery between workouts with these two
muscle groups also for optimal growth.
Obviously sleep is the crucial time where you release growth hormone
and really let the rebuilding take effect, so make sure to get at
least 8 hours of sleep to maximize this recovery time so your muscles
can repair themselves and grow. The quality of sleep is also crucial
since if you're not actually in deep sleep throughout the entire
night, it will be difficult to truly rest and recover. The important
things to consider when preparing for a full night of quality sleep
- Black out your bedroom. Make sure your bedroom is in
complete darkness since any light can affect the quality of your
sleep. Even the smallest amount of light in your bedroom can disrupt
your internal clock and your pineal gland's production of melatonin
- Keep it cold. Your bedroom should be on the colder side
with the temperature being no higher than 70 degrees (Fahrenheit).
After you fall asleep, you body's internal temperature actually
drops to its lowest level, so it's always advantageous to keep
your bedroom temp at approximately 60-68 degrees for the ideal
sleep temperature so you can mimic your body's own natural temperature
drop and have a deep, quality level of sleep in order to allow
your muscles to recover and grow.
- Shut down the TV. Any stimulus can affect your quality
of sleep, so make sure to shut off your favorite TV show a few
hours before going to sleep. Your bedroom should be 100% quiet
and avoid any external noises as best you can (washing machine,
- Avoid coffee and stimulants. The last thing you want
to do is chug down a large cup of coffee before going to bed since
the caffeine will not only give you a jolt and keep you up but
it also spikes your cortisol levels which are your body's stress
hormone and can affect the release of body fat as you sleep. Make
sure to limit all stimulants (caffeine, coffee, energy drinks,
chocolate, etc.) several hours before going to sleep and it's
also smart to go to sleep on an empty stomach, so try and avoid
eating any foods about 2-3 hours before hitting the sack.
By incorporating these different aspects into your workout routine,
you can set yourself up to maximize the crucial rest and recovery
phase after your intense weight training sessions, which will allow
you to avoid any serious issues with overtraining down the road.
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