- The importance of recovery times in a training cycle
- How to calculate training recovery times
- Tools to calculate recovery times between workouts
Regardless of the fitness goals we set ourselves, our body needs breaks to regenerate and improve its performance. While it's not always easy to slow down, it's crucial that you give yourself time to recover from your training session. Failure to recover muscles risks having harmful consequences on the body: muscle pain, overexertion and increased risk of injury, until we reach phases of stagnation or even regression.
Sport, in itself, is intentional stress. If you want to make progress, it is inevitable to challenge your limits by bringing the body into a state of imbalance, but it is equally important to ensure recovery time for muscle mass and restore balance. Let's see why.
The importance of recovery times in a training cycle
Recovery is the time necessary for the body to repair the muscle damage caused by intense sporting practice and restore optimal conditions to face a new training session. It is essential not only for muscles, but also for tissue repair and the replenishment of physical strength. A muscle needs 24 to 48 hours to repair and rebuild itself, freeing itself from the accumulated lactic acid: choose a workout without recovery time and work the muscles without allowing them the right rest (for example by going for a run every day), it could lead to the rupture of the tissues that compose it.
Muscle growth and improved performance depend on how well and how quickly you can achieve full muscle recovery. Furthermore, with the right recovery, the body is much more resilient and less prone to injuries. If recovery takes too long (for example if it involves a week's break from training) it can be a sign that the amount of training sessions is excessive to metabolize and should be reduced in frequency or intensity. Finally, recovery also serves to detach mentally and therefore have a fresh mind every time you resume training.
How to calculate training recovery times
Calculating your rest times can be very helpful in optimizing your recovery between training sessions, whether it is passive recovery (reliance solely on the body's natural recovery abilities to compensate for the training load) or recovery active (use a set of measures to stimulate the body during days or rest day). There are several modes; here are the two main ones.
Functional evaluation test
To determine whether you need to increase your training times or if you are already training correctly, take your pulse at rest, run for 40 meters and note the walking time multiplied by 1.5, rest for 3 minutes, repeat the sequence for 4 times at the established speed, mark the beats immediately at the end and after 1, 3, 5 and 7 minutes: if after 3 minutes the heart value is back close to the starting values, you are in good shape.
Recovery index test
The recovery capacity is expressed in technical terms through the recovery index (RI). To calculate it, you need to walk for a mile (1609 meters) at the maximum possible speed: the IR is equal to the maximum heart rate measured during the test minus the heart rate measured 3 minutes after the end of the test, divided by the maximum heart rate of the test minus heart rate at rest, all multiplied by 100: a good IR is above 30-40.
Tools to calculate recovery times between workouts
Today many sports smartwatches, with or without pairing with a heart rate monitor, are able to detect and provide the user with a whole series of physiological measurements on training status and physical condition, up to giving precise indications on muscle recovery times after training: among the main ones, Garmin (recovery time recorded in hours) and Suunto (recovery time calculated on the basis of the duration and intensity of the recorded activities). The balance between workloads and rest is in fact one of the most important parameters to keep under control to calibrate your training program.
The value shown indicates the time needed to fully recover before being able to tackle a race or hard training, but recovery does not mean absolute rest, but rather active recovery (which can be interspersed with a walk, a jog unloading, or, in the case of recovery time from leg training, from a gym session for the upper body). Furthermore, the time indicated is cumulative between one training session and another: if you train before the recovery time has expired (for example if you choose to run two days in a row), the new accumulated time is added to the one remaining from the previous training session.