I’m the worst recover(er). I’m sore, like really sore, after most workouts regardless of intensity or volume. We can’t be good at everything! For some reason, I need more recovery time than others. Others can workout 6 days in a row, hard, and be relatively fine.
What can you do about it? Sleeping 7-9 hours and staying hydrated (half your bodyweight in ounces) are the priorities. If you aren’t hitting those two things, it’s tough for anything to make much of a difference. Beyond that, being smart about volume, intensity, and rest days are key.
Here are 3 quick tips if you are below average at recovering (you know who you are):
Try alternating tough days with “Active recovery days”. It’s actually, in my opinion, better than taking a rest day. A recovery day can simply be something where you do 50% weight and reps, and just go through the motions. Or it could be working on little things you don’t normally do, like stretches and stability work that’s easy to ignore on other days. It could also be a mix of little things and some light to medium cardio.
Split body parts. In the last 10 years or so this has been frowned upon. Popular with bodybuilders, it has taken its fair share of criticism because the body doesn’t work in parts like a robot. However, the reason bodybuilders do it is because of their high volume, they need to give parts recovery time. You don’t have to do the traditional chest, back, arms, shoulders/legs split. We all know that we skip leg day anyway. We do want to work body parts more than once a week. You can hit every body part each workout, however, you can vary the intensity. For example, get after overhead press and rows, and go easy on legs. Next workout, flip it around.
Do a mild form of periodization. For most of us, we don’t need to be on an extreme periodization, which is specific planning for ramping up intensity over 4-6 weeks, then doing a light week before restarting again. I don’t usually program too specific with this, because inevitably vacations happen. However, it is wise to start light, learn technique, and take 3-6 weeks to work up some more reps or more weight. Then take a week where you drop 20-30% intensity and go through the motions before starting up a different program.