How long your muscles should rest after a workout

To make progress, it is important to let your muscles recover. Rest involves two elements, adequate sleep, and adequate time in between your street workouts! For muscle growth and performance, it is important that the muscles are given sufficient time to replenish glycogen levels. This article contains an explanation of glycogen levels, and the amount of rest and sleep that muscles need for optimal performance.

In general your muscles need 48 to 72 hours of rest to fully recover and restore glycogen levels. But this depends on your body, food intake and workout intensity. Experienced athletes will feel when it is the right time to strain their muscles again.

What is Glycogen?

Glycogen is a multibranched polysaccharide of glucose that serves as a form of energy storage.  The polysaccharide structure represents the main storage form of glucose in the body. Glycogen is made and stored primarily in the cells of the liver and the muscles. It functions as the secondary long-term energy storage, with the primary energy stores being fats.

Restore glycogen levels

During a street workout, your muscles use a lot of energy and your glycogen levels drop. It’s like driving a car. After a while the gas tank is empty and needs to be refilled.
The heavier and longer you train your muscles, the lower your glycogen levels drop. Your body requires rest to be able to restore the glycogen levels. If you do not rest enough before your next workout, then your muscle power will be less. Depending on the intensity of your workout, it can take several days to fully restore your glycogen levels!

After a high intensity leg workout it is not recommended to do another high intensity leg workout the next day. If you really want to train to next day, you could do a low intensity leg workout or even better, train other muscles in the upper body and give your legs a rest.

How much sleep do you need for optimal performance?

sleep after workoutIt is important that you sleep enough hours every day. Most people overlook the fact that sleep is just as important as your training routine, when it comes to effective muscle growth. Keep in mind that the muscles are actually build while your sleeping! So when you do an intensive workout program, but you don’t take enough sleep every day, than you will not enjoy optimal muscle growth.

The amount of sleep your body needs, is dependent on many factors. Expert from the sleepfoundation recommend that adults take at least  seven hours of sleep every night. But for experienced athletes with high intensity workout programs, nine hours of sleep are no exception.

When you wake up in the morning all by yourself (so without the help of an alarm clock), then you probably get enough sleep. Another way to find out if you suffer from sleep deprivation is to have a lie down in the middle of the day. When you fall asleep within 10 minutes, you probably need more sleep during the night!

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