When it comes to weight training and achieving optimal results from your workouts and ultimately your long term goals, there are numerous key factors which have to be considered and put in place for this to occur. Most of these factors revolve around your actual training itself, such as exercise selection, repetitions, sets and rest intervals during exercise bouts. Emphasis on each of these factors will alter accordingly depending on whether your desired outcome is based around strength and power, hypertrophy or muscular endurance. All these factors have previously been considered in our article archive and can be found within the FitnessBeans website.
The purpose of this particular article is to consider optimal rest periods required away from the gym following an intense workout. Rest periods themselves can be considered just as, if not more, important as the actual workouts themselves. Too much rest and the required stresses and strains needed to bring about adaptive muscular alterations will simply not occur. Too little rest and your training and ability to undertake exercise will ultimately suffer; with performance decrements, over-training and illness and injury just a few commonly occurring resultant problems.
If you are an individual who likes to mix their resistance training with cardiovascular activity then you will be happy to know that the recovery periods for aerobic exercise are not nearly as long. In fact, due the nature of aerobic activity, which is a sustainable form of exercise and much less stressful on the body itself, you can participate in aerobic exercise daily.
Obviously, if this aerobic exercise takes the shape of training for a marathon then it is ideal to schedule rest days, but otherwise daily training is not problematic.
Previous research has identified an optimal recovery period for muscle groups at between 24-48 hours depending on the type and intensity of the training undertaken. If an extremely strenuous and stressful workout has been achieved, then this might require even longer. The reason for this required delay is quite simply so the target muscles, that have achieved microfiber damage during the workout, can be given adequate time to undertake the necessary repair and growth processes required.
For those of you that think more is better when it comes to weight training, think again. As stated above, without adequate recovery time to muscle groups, ultimately you will do yourself more harm than good. Potentially, this might even include decrements in the strength and size of your muscles. Remember, your muscles can only grow during periods of rest!
So how do individuals undertake resistance training on a near daily basis and achieve phenomenal results? The answer is split training. Guidelines for optimal rest periods state that 24-48 hours rest is required for muscle groups. Therefore, as long as you focus on a different muscle group the following day, you are still achieving your required rest periods whilst training hard.
For example, if on Monday you undertake a chest session, then on Tuesday and Wednesday undertake a back and legs session respectively, by the time Thursday rolls around you will be able to train your chest again if required. This method of split training requires a lot of dedication and organization to achieve results and is not recommended for novices. Remember, even with split training you require complete rest days.
In summary, when undertaking resistance training, allow 24-48 hours recovery for muscle groups if you are aiming for optimal results. This might even be longer, depending on the intensity of your particular session. For example, eccentric training requires a greater rest period than traditional training methods.
These guidelines are based upon scientific research, but also be aware of other factors. If you are constantly feeling run down, lifting less and picking up niggling injuries, it may be that you’re simply doing too much. You know your own body better than anyone else and what it is capable of. So take all these consideration factors into account and make an informed decision about how best to implement your rest days.