One aspect of working out that a lot of bodybuilders don’t spend a lot of time thinking about is recovery. The reality is, your muscles aren’t actually built during the workout. Instead, they’re built when you rest.
If you aren’t waiting long enough between exercising a muscle, you risk injuring that muscle. Also, because the muscle hasn’t had time to fully build muscle tissue from the last workout, you won’t get the maximum gains possible from your workouts.
On the other hand, waiting too long between workouts means you aren’t pushing your body as hard as it could go. That means you won’t see the results you want as quickly.
So how long is a good workout recovery time?
Ideal Workout Recovery: Approximately 36 Hours
Clinical trials have shown that full muscles typically take about 36 hours to fully regain their previous strength. The experiment recorded bodybuilders’ strength and stamina before and after workouts and recorded how long it took bodybuilders to be able to achieve the same level of strength after a workout.
The results of this experiment are consistent with the experiences of experienced bodybuilders. Generally, at least a day and a half of rest is enough to give your muscles the rest they need.
Listen to Your Body
Keep in mind that the right amount of time to recover after a workout varies from person to person. It also varies from muscle group to muscle group, exercise to exercise.
Listen to your body. You should feel sore after a workout, either immediately after working out or the next morning. However, you shouldn’t feel like you’re in excruciating pain.
If the pain feels sharp rather than dull or if you feel immobilized by the pain, chances are you’re pushing too hard.
Don’t let mild soreness stop you from working out – getting more circulation in your body can be a good way to get rid of soreness. Just don’t push your body past where it feels healthy.
Ramp Up Your Recovery (for Beginners)
If you’re just getting started with working out, don’t expect your recovery time to be the same as an experienced athlete. It’s entirely normal for a beginner to take 3-6 days to recover from a strenuous workout.
Give your body time to adjust to recovery. Space your workouts out so it’s just a few times a week and gradually shrink the time between workouts. Ramp up your recovery time slowly.
Upper Body, Lower Body
One of the most common ways to address the issue of recovery time is through alternating upper and lower body. For example, you might work out your upper body on Monday, then skip Tuesday and work out your lower body on Wednesday, skip Thursday and work out your upper body again on Friday.
Switching back and forth like this allows you to give each muscle group the rest they need, while still working out regularly.
Think about your muscle recovery. Don’t push yourself too hard, but don’t let recovery be an excuse to not push yourself either.