Saturday, November 12, 2011

Muscle Firepower : And optimal recovery by Jerry Brainum

An often repeated rule in bodybuilding is that you should rest a muscle group at least 48 hours between workouts. Training a muscle every day will lead to zero progress, since you never let the muscle recover. The recovery process involves a variety of reactions in the body, including complete muscle protein synthesis, without which there is no progress. Studies show that muscle protein synthesis peaks at the 48-hour mark following a weight workout. Replenishing the body’s store of glycogen—which powers bodybuilding workouts and is required for full muscle repair after training—also takes at least 48 hours.

   Based on those observations, it would make sense for you to rest at least 48 hours between workouts, but empirical evidence shows that 48 hours may not be enough. That’s particularly true if you’re over 40 or aren’t taking any anabolic drugs, which dramatically increase workout recovery.

   In a study presented at the 2004 meeting of the National Strength and Conditioning Association, researchers from the University of Alabama examined just how long it takes to recover from a weight-training workout. Fifteen men and 15 women were tested for strength recovery at 48, 72 and 96 hours after a weight workout consisting of three sets of eight repetitions done with weights equal to 65 percent of one-rep maximum in the bench press and leg press.

   Analysis showed that 66.7 percent of the male subjects needed 96 hours for full recovery on the leg press. In contrast, 93.3 percent of the men showed full recovery on the bench press after 72 hours. As for the female study subjects, 66.7 percent recovered on the bench press after 72 hours, while only 46.7 percent showed full recovery on the leg press at the 96-hour mark.

   The study underscores the long-held notion that it takes the legs longer than the upper body to recover from workouts. The study also showed that you need at least 72 hours of rest between workouts for the same muscle in upper-body exercises and at least 96 hours for training the legs. Keep in mind that muscles don’t grow and get stronger during workouts; they grow during rest.

©,2011 Jerry Brainum.Any reprinting in any type of media, including electronic and foreign is expressly prohibited.

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The Applied Ergogenics blog is a collection of articles written and published by Jerry Brainum over the past 20 years. These articles have appeared in Muscle and Fitness, Ironman, and other magazines. Many of the posts on the blog are original articles, having appeared here for the first time. For Jerry’s most recent articles, which are far more in depth than anything that appears on this blog site, please subscribe to his Applied Metabolics Newsletter, at This newsletter, which is more correctly referred to as a monthly e-book, since its average length is 35 to 40 pages, contains the latest findings about nutrition, exercise science, fat-loss, anti-aging, ergogenic aids, food supplements, and other topics. For 33 cents a day you get the benefit of Jerry’s 53 years of writing and intense study of all matters pertaining to fitness,health, bodybuilding, and disease prevention.


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