How Much Rest Do I Need Between Workouts?

Hi Tara Marie,

I am 57 years old, and I started weight training about two years ago.  If I exercise one part of the body, how many days should I rest before I exercise the same body part again?

Thanks, Elena

Hello, Elena!

Thanks for writing! This is a great question and it’s one that I am often asked. There are three basic components that must be considered for muscle growth:

  1. Work the muscle.
  2. Feed the muscle (this includes supplements, water, and food).
  3. Rest the muscle.

If, for instance, you work your chest on Monday, wait at least 24 hours before repeating a chest workout. I say “at least” because, if you are sore, I recommend waiting until the soreness has calmed.

You can do a great job working your muscles, and you can give your body great nutrition in the form of supplementation, water, and food, yet you can still hamper your development if you do not give your muscles proper rest.

It is during rest that the micro-damage that occurs in the muscle fibers from resistance training is repaired. During this rest and repair phase, your body synthesizes new muscle tissue and “hypertrophy” occurs. This is how your muscles become more dense and strong. Inadequate rest retards the repair and growth of muscle, which will blunt your progress. “Hypertrophy” is the opposite of “atrophy,” which is when muscles weaken and diminish in size, due to disuse.

Considering this, you can work out on consecutive days as long as the muscles you work on one day rest at least 24 hours before you train them again.

Here is a sample training schedule that would allow you to work out on consecutive days, yet rest muscles appropriately:

Monday: chest/triceps

Tuesday: back/biceps

Wednesday: abdominals and one half of your lower body workout

Thursday: shoulders, including anterior, medial, and posterior deltoids

Friday: abdominals and the second half of your lower body workout

My lower body training is extensive, so I break up the exercises over at least 2 non-consecutive days. To review my lower body training routine, read Beautiful Legs in 12 Easy Moves, Part 1 and Beautiful Legs in 12 Easy Moves, Part 2.

There are many ways to schedule your training so you are working one part of your body while resting another. The main idea is to rest today what you worked yesterday!

Keep training!

~Tara Marie!