What is The Best Muscle Recovery Time for Intense Training?

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question-icon-newMy current fitness program consists of doing cardio 6 days a week, weight lifting 3 days a week and doing yoga 3 days a week. I understand that muscles need to rest between workouts and I’m wondering if I’m overdoing it. I want to maximize muscle building with weights and burning fat with cardio but I’m not sure if doing Yoga is too much on my body. Should I cut back a little on weight training or Yoga to give my body more rest?

answer-icon-newThe biggest factor you should focus on is how you feel and this comes down to really listening to your body. If you’ve been feeling tired and worn out while being extra sore after workouts and you have an overall feeling of fatigue, then this is a major sign that you’re doing too much. If it’s getting more difficult to recover from training, you need to make sure and take several days off from training to completely relax in order to let your body fully recover. This means avoiding all forms of exercise for a period of time to “reset” your body and let it decompress. You want to avoid overtraining at all costs because if it gets too extreme, you will be in rough shape since your body will be in a continual state of “breaking down” and it will start burning lean muscle tissue and becoming weaker instead of stronger. Remember that overtraining is simply an imbalance between training and recovery which needs to be offset by taking enough time off in order to get your body primed and ready to take on future workouts.

Signs of Overtraining:

  • Increased resting heart rate
  • Increased resting blood pressure
  • Decreased sports performance
  • Slower recovery after exercise
  • Decreased appetite
  • Decreased desire to exercise
  • Increased irritability and depression

A great way to determine if you are overtraining is to measure your heart rate by taking your pulse first thing in the morning. Right after waking up, immediately check your pulse and the number of heart beats per minute. Take your pulse in the morning for 3 days in order to get your normal baseline resting heart rate. An increase of more than 5 beats per minute above normal is an indication of overtraining. Another way to test for overtraining is to measure your heart rate while running at a certain speed. If you notice that your heart rate increases by more than 4-5%, then you need to take some time off from training in order to rest up. You should be aware of certain factors that can increase your heart rate, such as caffeine, so make sure you do your tests under normal conditions and avoid having a double shot espresso before taking your heart rate!

If you have a high resting heart rate, this is one important indicator that you might be overtraining. If you have also been feeling lethargic, your strength and performance has decreased and you have lost motivation to train, then you are most likely overtrained. It’s extremely important that you take a full week off from training at this point. Do not partake in any form of physical activity for the entire week, which includes any weight training, cardio exercises, Yoga, Pilates and even any extra yard work around the house like mowing the lawn or raking leaves. When I say NO exercise, I mean absolutely zero physical exertion. Many people think cutting back just means doing 2-3 workouts per week instead of their normal 5-6 training days. Or, they will cut out all their weight training workouts but still run 2-3 miles several days during the week. If you do any type of physical exercise, you are only delaying your overtrained state and not allowing your body to fully recover in order to get back to 100% performance. So, during this time you should get super lazy and forget about anything other than resting up and fully recovering. Read a book, catch up on a few documentaries or watch some of your favorite movies and just chill out!

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