Whether you’re new to strength training or have been doing it for months (or even years), there is one question that seems to come up over and over again: How long should you rest your muscles after training? Well, the answer involves first understanding why you should rest them.
Why Muscles Require Rest
When you work your muscles by lifting weights, using your body weight for resistance, or using resistance bands or suspension training, you are essentially creating small tears in your muscle fibers. It is when these tears heal that your muscles grow bigger and stronger.
Therefore, if you don’t give your muscle fibers time to adequately repair themselves, you risk injuring them. The tears can become bigger and rather problematic since they aren’t allowed to recover, turning them from a benefit to a disadvantage in your training program.
So, How Long Should You Rest Them?
The final answer to this age-old question depends partly on how intense your strength training workouts are. For example, if you are using light to medium weights or strength training equipment, then you want to give that area of your body at least 24 hours to recuperate.
However, if your strength training regimen is intense and you work your muscles to exhaustion, 48 hours may be more preferable to make sure your tears are adequately healed before working those same muscles again.
You can either do full body workouts 2-3 days a week to meet this guideline and still workout effectively yet safely. Or, you can just work different body parts different days of the week to achieve the same goal. For instance, you could do upper body on Monday, lower body on Tuesday, and your core on Wednesday, continuing this routine while taking a day off after two rotations to give it a much needed and well-deserved break.
Now get out there and build your muscles – after resting them, of course!