I wonder how training a particular muscle when not recovered fully affects long term performance gains. I know there is evidence that this does negatively affect short term performance, as well as increasing the risk of injury. Of course injury will set you back in the long term, but suppose you can avoid it. I know some athletes can train 30-40hours or more per week habitually (not just for a couple weeks in a row but longer periods), so I suppose it is possible it positively affects performance as long as you don't get injured?

Is there any scientific research that indicates how training a particular muscle when not recovered fully affects long term performance gains?

2 Answers 2


I think most popular and effective training programs do not allow you to recover fully. Recovering fully, being at peak power and endurance, is usually achieved by tapering off your training.

As such, simply by the fact that you'd taper off a training program (like 5/3/1, 5x5, etc) before a competition, it's a logical conclusion that not tapering off (ie: a normal training week) means you're not fully recovered. Rather, you're recovered enough to handle more load, and stimulate more adaptation.

Is there any scientific research that indicates how training a particular muscle when not recovered fully affects long term performance gains?

I would just comment to say that "training a particular muscle when not fully recovered" means a lot of different things. You can do it in a smart way, such as any effective training program, or you can do it in a silly way and stunts adaption and instead of leading to recovery leads to exhaustion. Scooped from the Wikipedia on stress and the general adaptation syndrome concerning exhaustion:

Exhaustion is the alternative third stage in the GAS model. At this point, all of the body's resources are eventually depleted and the body is unable to maintain normal function. The initial autonomic nervous system symptoms may reappear (sweating, raised heart rate, etc.). If stage three is extended, long-term damage may result (prolonged vasoconstriction results in ischemia which in turn leads to cell necrosis), as the body's immune system becomes exhausted, and bodily functions become impaired, resulting in decompensation.

The result can manifest itself in obvious illnesses, such as peptic ulcer and general trouble with the digestive system (e.g. occult bleeding, melena, constipation/obstipation), diabetes, or even cardiovascular problems (angina pectoris), along with clinical depression and other mental illnesses.

In that case we're not talking about "exhaustion" in the sense of a tiring workout, but rather where you are (typically over a course of weeks) simply subjecting your body to more load than it is able to recover from. Beyond the load, other factors that can affect that balance include but certainly are not limited to:

  • Age
  • Hormonal levels
  • Sleep
  • Diet
  • Purely genetic differences
  • Previous use of anabolic steroids

It's sometimes said:

Improvement = training stress + recovery

Your training puts a stress on your system, and during recovery you get stronger. Most training programs are built around generating different kinds of training stress in efficient ways and providing appropriate time to recover. Both the amount of training to create stress and what is needed for recovery depends on the athlete, their condition, the sport, and other factors.

The answer to your specific question is, "it depends". It depends on what kind of training you did before, and it depends on what you mean by "exercising".

If, for example, you did an all-out intervals workout on your bicycle. If you go out the next day and try to duplicate that effort, you are likely wasting your time; you haven't recovered enough to be able to impose more training stress on your system.

If, on the other hand, you go out the next day and do a light ride, you will get your legs and body warmed up and you will likely recover faster than if you sat around.

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