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How Long Should My Workout Recovery Be?

Woman sitting on bench in the park

As much as we’d like, there is no fast-track service to getting ’ripped’ or ’toned’ as much as we’re often told in clickbait articles and ads. Getting in shape is a patient and evolving process which isn’t in tune with our ever-more stifled attention spans.

If you are looking to get in-shape then your journey starts with building your knowledge about nutrition, fitness and health. We took a look at the importance of rest and recovery in your workout routine which is considered equally as valuable to your progress as the workout itself.

What happens when our bodies are resting?

It may seem like you’re doing nothing, but all the action takes place inside of your body. Your body is working to rebuild.

A few examples on how our bodies recover:

  • Restoration of muscle fibres – muscle fibres are torn and damaged after we exercise and heal during resting periods becoming stronger than before; this process triggers the physical growth of muscle.
  • Restoration of fluids – if you’re doing your workout right,  you’re likely to sweat a lot, making hydration essential to the delivery of nutrients to our bodies.
  • Replenishment of glycogen stores – the recovery process of your muscles produces insulin which in return aids the transfer of glucose to our muscles which then stores as glycogen, which is utilised during your next workout.

The quality of your resting period is also determined by the food you consume. If you’re unsure as to what foods are best then check out our article on post workout recovery foods.

Sleeping also has an important role to play in your recovery and rest period. Find out more in our article tackling the question – why does sleep make us feel so good?

The most important timings in exercise are the hours after exercise (also known as short-term recovery) and the 2 – 3 days after workout (long-term recovery). To get an estimated length of your recovery periods, keep these points in mind:

Fitness Levels

Have you just started working out regurarly? Chances are that your body needs a longer recovery time contrary to those who have been working out regurarly for years. As years go by, we have a slower muscle recovery time. Try keeping an eye on the time it takes for you to lose the aches and pains.


If you are moving into intense activities such as weight-training as a beginner then a 3 day recovery period is recommended for you. However, if an hour of medium-level cardiovascular exercise is more your thing, you can exercise more frequnetly at a rate of about 2 – 3 times a week.


The length of your workout is another important factor to consider when deciphering your recovery time. Going overboard with training can end up being very dangerous and lead to chronic muscle/joint pains, fatigue and high blood pressure. Don’t ignore what your body is telling you - it knows itself the best and will inform you when it needs rest!

Recover faster with low-intensity exercise

There have been studies  which support the idea that you can recover quicker after workouts by doing low-intensity exercises such as swimming or walking.

Unfortunately there isn’t one definitive answer to how long your workout recovery time should be, but taking all the above points into consideration will help you work it out better. One thing is for certain –rest and recovery in your workout routine is a fundamental part of fitness progress.