What Difference Does Recovery Time Make in Strength Training Performance?

This is part 2 of a 3 part Q&A series that answers: What does current research tell us about aerobic fitness and metformin, strength training recovery times, and obesity intervention methods?

Part 1: Can metformin have a negative impact on cardiorespiratory fitness?

Muscular strength and hypertrophy changes following a resistance training program are highly variable from person to person. Many factors contribute to this variability, one being the amount of recovery time between training sessions. Past research suggests that optimized recovery time for each individual leads to optimal performance during training sessions—and ultimately greater results.

Researchers tested this concept by assessing recovery using heart rate variability (HRV) measures for detrained males ages 19–25; measures were taken prior to each of 20 resistance training sessions. Twenty participants were split evenly into two groups: fixed recovery (FIX) and individualized recovery based on HRV (IND).

In the FIX group, participants worked out Monday, Wednesday and Friday. In the IND group, participants were only allowed to exercise when HRV levels showed they had fully recovered from the previous training session. Notably, the IND group took approximately 7 weeks to complete 20 sessions—2 weeks more than the FIX group. Researchers measured both groups’ total training volume (sets x reps x load) to determine resistance training session performance.

Results demonstrated that both groups improved similarly in session performance and muscle strength following the training program, indicating that IND did not enhance either as compared with FIX. Trainers should be aware that, according to HRV, most participants recovered from training sessions after 24 hours.

Reference: de Oliveira, R.M., et al. 2019. Effect of individualized resistance training prescription with heart rate variability on individual muscle hypertrophy and strength responses. European Journal of Sport Science, 19 (8), 1092–1100.

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The Author

Tony Nunez

Tony Nunez

Tony P. Nunuez, PhD, is an assistant professor of human performance and sport at the Metropolitan State University of Denver. He is an active researcher and presenter in the exercise physiology and fitness field.

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