Muscle Fatigue
July 29, 2008 11:02 AM   Subscribe

Should I proceed with my routine workout if the particular muscle group in question hasn't fully recuperated?

I recently increased the amount of resistance I'm using across the board during most of my lifting exercises. My last increase yielded muscle fatigue/"failure" after my normally self-prescribed 10-12 reps per set. I've been seeing decent gains but of course, my body eventually got used to the weight and it wasn't as intense of a workout. So, I upped the weight again (~15%). This time, as opposed to last time, I am actually getting soreness from the workout that lasts for more than my typical 48 hours. After a few days pass, I am still a bit sore when the day for the same muscle group comes around. Usually I'm a fast healer, and recuperate quick enough for the next workout of said muscle group so in the past six months I haven't had to deal with soreness lasting this long. I read a lot about rest time and proper healing. I don't mind being sore, but should I delay one more day when the same muscle group still hasn't completely healed? Or is it okay to go ahead and work that group again?

Just as a side note, my diet hasn't changed (except a small increase in intake, still healthy foods though) and my day-to-day work load is still the same.

I just don't want to adversely affect any work I've put into this, and appreciate any opinions/help. Thank you!
posted by alcoth to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Don't workout that muscle group until it's recovered.

Any other muscles are fine to workout at this time though.

As a sidenote, if you aren't taking creatine look into it. Highly researched to reduce recovery time and promote lean muscle growth. And it's cheap.

Feel free to MeFi mail me with any questions.
posted by bradly at 12:22 PM on July 29, 2008

Soreness is only indirectly related to recuperation.

As an example, if you got some intense massage, loaded up on some potassium, did some light weights all the day after your weight session the soreness would be less but the recuperation may be unchanged. Furthermore, some body parts get sore easily (most people's hamstrings are like this) and some don't (I can count on one hand hte number of times my shoulders have been sore in the last 10 years).

When is a muscle truly "recovered"? That is a million-dollar question and pretty much unanswered. It varies for different people and depends on a million things (sleep, food, supplements, drugs, etc). I've done classic each body part once a week routines, twice a week routines, and three times a week routines. I've found each has it's merits and gained from all of them for some time. The best way to find out is to just monitor your strength, work out as scheduled and see if you are weaker, the same, or stronger. If you are weaker and you're not having an "off" day -- didn't eat enough, sleep enough, or are sick -- then make a mental note of it and don't work out that frequently the next time it happens. Also plan a "deload" week once every couple months where you don't work out intensely or not at all.

I would also comment that a protein supplement is more important to recovery than creatine if you're not getting ample protein daily or taking in good amount post-workout.

My 2 cents.
posted by wolfkult at 12:35 PM on July 29, 2008

2 things. First, next time take up your resistance by 5%, not 15...

Second, as you work harder, you need more time to recover. I lift every 3-4 days (vs. 2) because of this. It's more taxing on your system.
posted by filmgeek at 1:06 PM on July 29, 2008

Yeah, 15% is a huge increase. If I were you, I would try and increase more often, but with much smaller increases. I try and up the weight every 1-3 weeks, but that means a 2% increase, roughly.
posted by HighTechUnderpants at 1:43 PM on July 29, 2008

Without knowing the specifics of your regime it's hard to give any specific recommendations, but I think that if you talk to almost anyone who has been weight training for a long time they'll tell you that most inexperienced lifters tend to train far more often than they need to. It seems intuitive, right? More frequent lifting=better results. In reality, though, your muscles can only grow so much every week, and by working a particular group more often than you need to you may actually inhibit muscle growth.

Having said that, the best advice I can give is simply to listen to your body. As long as you are able to increase weight or reps every time you work a muscle group, keep doing what you're doing. If your gains stop or you feel tired/lethargic in the gym, increase the number of rest days you are taking, or reduce volume.

And keep eating! You will not continue to make gains no matter how good your training regime is if you aren't taking in more calories than you burn - an obvious point, but one that is very commonly overlooked. Good luck!
posted by btkuhn at 11:35 PM on July 29, 2008

I appreciate all of the input. Thank you guys. I'll take all of the advice to heart.
posted by alcoth at 7:24 AM on July 30, 2008

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