The Elite Physique

Muscle Recovery Time

How Much Muscle Recovery Time Do You Need?

muscle recovery time

Muscle recovery time is a lost art.  These days I see so many people in the gym training for hours on end.  In addition, they are training every day, and some, twice a day!  They step back to take a look in the mirror to see their gains, and there aren’t any.  They grow frustrated and start adding in more exercises, sets, and reps.  The saga continues.

There is a course of action to take if you want to build muscle, and it’s not just lifting weights 7 days a week.  You have to understand that to build muscle you need to weight train, eat food of quality, and rest.  If you lack any of the three, you won’t see substantial results.  All is not lost.  Here’s a simple guide on muscle recovery time so you can start making progress.

Muscle Recovery Time Between Workouts

There’s nothing that will build muscle faster than adequate muscle recovery time.  Many young and new lifters fail to give this part of the trifecta (diet, training, rest) any attention.  Most focus on training, giving about 20% to nutrition, and about 5% to true RESTFUL rest.  The fact is, when you are weight training in the gym, you are not building muscle.  Nope.  Your muscles rebuild and grow when you feed them and allow them to rest.

When you are weight training, pushing and pulling those weights, you are tearing down your muscles.  You are creating micro-tears in your muscles.  The damaged muscles hosting the micro-tears will only rebuild and grow stronger and denser if they receive nourishment and rest after the workout.  Once the muscle is recovered, it’s a little bit stronger and larger than it was before.

Once that muscle is fully recovered, you can train it again.  However, you have to use progressive overload in your training to continue the muscle building process.  This means you have to constantly challenge your muscles to lift heavier weight.  If you don’t break out your weight-bearing comfort zone, your muscles can’t grow beyond that normal.  You have to train heavy, you have to eat a decent amount of protein, and you have to get good quality rest.  A recovered muscle is a strong muscle.

Rest Time Between Workouts

So, how much rest time do you need between workouts?  That’s a good question.  Recovery can vary from person to person.  One indicator is, if a trained muscle group is still sore, don’t train it again.  Also, keep in mind that when you train chest, your shoulders are involved.  If your chest is sore, it’s not ideal to train shoulders.  If your biceps are still sore, it’s not ideal to train back.   You will have to use a training split designed to avoid overtraining and infringing on sore muscles.

If you train back and it’s not sore the next day or two, that doesn’t mean you should train in again.  You may not always be sore. Being sore is not an indicator of a quality training session or the tearing down of muscle tissue.  So, 4-7 days’ rest time is great muscle recovery time to induce muscle growth.

Muscle Recovery Time Between Sets

Muscle recovery time between sets is a factor as well.  All too often lifters are hamming away, rep after rep, set after set, giving no time to rest.  Resting between sets is 100% important.  It allows you to have energy and power to push through another grueling set.  With little rest between sets, you will be much weaker.  The more rest you get between sets, the stronger you can be for each coming set.

An example of poor recovery time between sets is this:  Hitting the incline dumbbell press, doing 12 reps, resting about 45 seconds to a minute and jumping in and hitting the next set.  First, that’s not enough muscle recovery time if you are using 100% true anaerobic intensity, which is force against resistance.  Anaerobic intensity is based on poundage used while aerobic intensity is based on time factor.  Most people I see training in the gym where I go use aerobic intensity.  They do reps in the 12-rep range, little rest between sets, and do far too many exercises for the same muscle group.  They are literally just badgering the muscle to death rather than training it.

#1 – Aerobic Intensity Weight Training – Chest Day

  • Bench press machine – 4 sets of 12 reps – 1 minute rest between sets
  • Incline DB press – 4 sets of 12 reps – 1 minute rest between sets
  • Cable crossovers – 4 sets of 12 reps – 1 minute rest between sets
  • Hammer Strength Bench Press – 4 sets of 12 reps – 1 minute rest between sets
  • Flat DB flys – 4 sets of 12 reps – 1 minute rest between sets
  • Decline BB press – 4 sets of 12 reps – 1 minute rest between sets

#2 – Anaerobic Intensity Weight Training – Chest Day

  • Incline BB press – 4 sets of 8-10 reps – 2 minutes rest between sets
  • Flat DB press – 4 sets of 8-10 reps – 2 minutes rest between sets
  • Incline DB flys – 4 sets of 8-10 reps – 2 minutes rest between sets

The second chest workout is 100% more effective for chest development and growth than the first one.  The first chest workout has too many exercises.  Some of the exercises are repeats.  In addition, the reps are too high for muscle growth and the rest between sets is not enough for good recovery.  If you are serious about building muscle, follow the #2 weight training format.  The second one will only keep you running, or training, in circles.

One More Thing…red arrow pointing down

It’s important to understand that what you do OUTSIDE and AWAY from the gym factors into your muscle gains, or lack of.  The things you do before, during, and after your training session will affect your recovery speed.  Now, I can give you more information on how to eat, train, and rest if you really want to build muscle quickly.  See below for my FREE Muscle Building Course…


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Karen Sessions NSCA-CPT

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My name is Karen Sessions and I am a life-time natural female bodybuilder, multi-certified fitness instructor, author, specialist in performance nutrition, and a success coach. I've been in the fitness industry since 1988! I teach people Just Like You how to transform their bodies, get in shape, build muscle, lose fat and compete in Bodybuilding, Physique, and Figure Competitions. When you have the CORRECT information you can have total confidence and turn your dreams into reality... and I can help transform YOUR body. I have helped THOUSANDS of clients reach their goals and I can help you, too. Be sure to grab my free gift above so you can start moving toward your goal.

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