Having recently posted about how peoples recovery differs post workout, I thought I would continue the trend. In particular I have one friend who seems to be able to do a heavy leg session, the day after rugby match! However, this post is going to take a look at the muscles themselves. You may find that different body parts feel different the day after a session. Do different muscle groups take longer to recover than others?


The Scenario

Young, untrained participants took part in 4 different training sessions. Each session focused on a different muscle group, but, followed the same structure. 5 sets of 6 reps were performed with 2 minutes rest between. Each session focused on either knee or elbow flexors or extensors. Decreases in strength were then recorded in the days immediately following each session.


The Outcome

What may seem surprising, is that the quads (thighs) appeared to recover within 1 day. However, the study doesn’t say whether it recorded the experience of DOMS in addition to strength measures. So, it is possible that participants may have felt sore, but still managed to produce the same force. The Hamstrings were next to recover, taking around 4 days.

Finally, both the biceps and triceps did not appear to have recovered, even after 5 days! A possible explanation for this is that despite the participants were untrained, the legs are used more in day to day life. Therefore, they are already more conditioned than the upper body.


Understanding Recovery as a Young Athlete

The results of the study suggest you may need to vary the frequency at which you train different body parts. The ability to produce force is linked to muscle damage. The amount of muscle damage may also determine fatigue of the central nervous system. Therefore, you may want to have a much lower frequency for the upper body as it takes much longer to recover.

As an Expert Personal Trainer in Surrey, I often work with youth athletes. It is important to understand what effects a training session is going to have on their performance. If you have a game in the next few days, the likelihood of doing an arm dominant session is pretty low.

That being said, everyone is an individual. While these findings provide guidelines, there will always be exceptions. You may have previous experience that mean your upper body is very conditioned to training. Try making a note of how you felt out of 10 in the days following a session. If you’re particularly sore, or have a loss of strength, you know you need a longer recovery for those muscles.