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I lift weights to get stronger and to look better, I wonder how long does it take for muscle to recover after workout. I do typical workout routine for every muscle group, I work out every muscle group two times a week, would it be beneficial to do 3 times a week for every muscle group or even more? I can work out hard almost everyday and never get muscle soreness, pain whatever.

Does recovery time differs a lot for advanced lifter and beginner? Is it possible that all my muscle groups can recover as fast as 12 hours after workout?

Thank you in advance for the information you can provide me

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There's no easy answer. It depends on a few variables:

  • The stress you've exposed your muscles to.
  • How close you are to your genetic potential.
  • How good your recovery is.

You (probably, based on your fitness as explained) could do 20 pushups a day, every day, and have no problems. However if you tried to push your 1RM (single maximum effort) bench press, you would not be able to do it again tomorrow. If you can, after you lift enough and get strong enough, you won't be able to. Eventually if you continue to get your strength high enough, you won't be able to repeat your maximum lift twice in a single week.

Basically the stronger you get, the more damage you can inflict on your body. Granted you get better at adapting, but not at the same rate. This diagram below shows it a bit:

enter image description here

The stronger you get, the harder you are training overall, and the heavier you work, the longer it will take to recover and achieve overcompensation.

Probably the biggest reason folks use real training programs (Starting Strength, Madcow, Texas, 5/3/1, etc) are because they attempt to thread the needle on lifting as much as possible while never exceeding your recovery (basically).

If you're on a structured program you'll know if you haven't recovered: you simply won't be able to lift the weights as prescribed. If you can, congratulations, you're stronger.

Also, soreness is a terribly inaccurate measure of workout effectiveness.

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  • You were right that I wouldn't be able to lift my one rep max with the same or more weight, but I wasn't sure if pushing myself even harder would increase my strength in the long run. I want to keep my muscle tone, strength stable at all times. It's difficult to determine what suits me because gains come slow, maybe because I have been working out for more than 4 years. After reading your answer I came to a conclusion that I need more recovery time. Thanks again for such an informative answer, recovery time seems just as important as regular workout. – Erasus Oct 24 '14 at 13:24
  • @Erasus I'd really recommend you try one of the intermediate programs like "Texas method" or "Madcow 5x5". I think you'll find anyone who's followed these has had fairly incredible results. – Eric Oct 29 '14 at 1:54
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First of all we should know what you workout looks like. The muscle recovery time depends on your genetics, your experience and your training program. Of course, a beginner will take some more time to recover from a workout. Also, If you are able to recover from a workout in 12 hours, for sure you haven't trained with the correct intensity. This doesn't mean that you have to feel muscle soreness, but you have to feel them tired.

To have an aproximation of how much time does a muscle need to recover from workout, you first need to indetify your workout type, this is, you train at low reps for strengh, at middle reps for hipertrophy, or at high reps for resistance.

Strengh:

The usual workout program for strengh are full-body like programs, or programs where you train with basic exercises multiple muscles in a session. Here you could train each muscle 2-3 times a week, as the training volume for each muscle is low. The resting time for each muscle between session should be about 3-4 days, because in this type of workout you involve a lot the nervous system and it takes time to recover.

Hipertrophy:

Is the most common workout type, also known as the bodybuilder wourkout. Here you specialize more in each muscle, traning one or two muscles each day. In consecuence the training volumen for each muscle is higher than for strengh. This way you should only train each muscle one a week, maximum twice a week. As you involve less the nervous system than in a strengh routine, the recovery days for each muscle are less, so you should let each muscle rest for 2-3 days between sessions.

So as you see, it basically depends on your workout type and how hard you train.

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Be aware you do not need to fully recover from one training to benefit from additional training, especially if it is different in nature. Dual factor training takes this into for advanced lifters (example http://startingstrength.wikia.com/wiki/Programming#What_is_dual_factor_periodization.3F_I_don.27t_understand_this_stuff. ) You may not need to worry about this yet. But be aware you body can adapt into recovering better, too.

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