Facebook Twitter

The Ultimate Muscle Recovery Test
Find out how long it really takes your body to heal and grow.

How are your workouts scheduled?

Trying to get fit but not sure how often you should workout? There's plenty of advice for people who are new to training or have only been exercising for a few months. But how do you keep making progress if you've been working out for years?

The answer was discovered in Kentucky.

Western Kentucky University scientists examined how quickly people's muscles recovered after exercise. Subjects performed several exercises for seven sets of 10 repetitions. They were then tested one, two, three and four days later.

The researchers figured that until the subjects were able to perform at least 10 reps of an exercise, the same number originally performed, the muscle group wasn't fully recovered.

After 24 hours, most subjects hadn't recovered. They averaged nine reps max on the upper body test and only eight reps on the lower body routine. Things started to improve during the second test. After resting 48 hours, the majority of subjects were able to match their original 10 reps.

 

It got really interesting when they tested again after 72 hours. That's when most subjects completed an average of 11 reps for the upper body. However, they were still limited to 10 reps for lower body sets. It took a full 96 hours before subjects were able to complete an average of 11 reps for upper and lower body exercises.

What that meant was full recovery and strength gain happened for the upper body muscles after 72 hours, but it took 96 hours for the lower body to fully recuperate. That means for optimum growth, most people shouldn't train any specific upper body muscle more than once every 3 days, or a lower body muscle more than once every 4 days.

Of course there were exceptions. Some people healed in as little as two days while others took as long as six. The key is testing to see what your specific recovery time is.

In the May 2007 issue of Muscle and Fitness Magazine, they modified the Western Kentucky University test to better isolates specific body parts. Muscle and Fitness also extended the test an additional two days to help identify people who may need more than four days to recover. Here's that test for you to use.


(This test may require that you have a spotter for some of the exercises. Because of the stress this test puts on your body, you should check with your doctor or health care provider to make sure you're able to take the test without harming yourself. This test is only for people who are reasonably healthy and have already worked out for at least two to three years.)


Day One you're going to do four different exercises. The Flat-Bench Dumbbell Flye, Leg Extension, Lat Pulldown and Lying (or Seated) Leg Curl. You'll perform seven sets of each exercise, ten reps per set. Take each set to failure using your 10-rep-max weight.

(A 10-rep-max is the maximum amount of weight you can move for no more than 10 repetitions while maintaining good form.)

Day Two you're going to do three more exercises. The Dumbbell Lateral Raise, Triceps Pressdown and Barbell curl. Once again you'll do seven sets of each exercise, 10 reps per set. As before take each set to failure using your 10-rep-max weight.

On both days you should rest for three minutes between each set and 5-10 minutes between each new exercise.

Day Three you'll do only one set (not seven) of each exercise you did on Day One. Write down how many reps you were able to complete.

Days Four through Seven, do one set of all the exercises you did on both Day One and Day Two. Write down how many reps you were able to complete each time.

Day Eight, do one set of each exercise you did on Day Two. Since the lower body generally takes longer to heal, this gives it one more day than the upper body to recover and balances out the total number of days each body part is tested.

Days
1
2
3
4 - 7
8
Flat-Bench Dumbbell Flye
7/10
1/10
1/10
Leg Extension
7/10
1/10
1/10
Lat Pulldown
7/10
1/10
1/10
Let Curl (Lying or Seated)
7/10
1/10
1/10
Dumbbell Lateral Raise
7/10
1/10
1/10
Triceps Pressdown
7/10
1/10
1/10
Barbell Curl
7/10
1/10
1/10

When you look at the numbers, here's what they mean.

  • On the days you weren't able to complete 10 reps, you body still hasn't recovered.
  • Once you were able to complete 10 reps, you've recovered but haven't healed enough to see increased strength.
  • The day you're able to complete more than 10 reps, is the optimal time that part of your body takes to fully recuperate.

Use that information to move yourself to the next level of fitness. By taking your recovery time into consideration, you can precisely plan your new workout schedule.

Call for a FREE Consultation (305) 296-3434
CAUTION: Check with your doctor before
beginning any diet or exercise program.

2/24/2008