How Long Each Muscle Should Rest

Rest is one of the pillars of exercise. The best thing you can do is to find out how long each muscle should rest so that your body can recover from workouts.
How Long Each Muscle Should Rest
Leonardo Biolatto

Reviewed and approved by the doctor Leonardo Biolatto.

Last update: 10 October, 2022

Within the world of training, each person adapts differently to the exercises. However, there are some basic parameters that apply to almost everyone. In addition to taking care of the food you eat and your technique, you have to give recovery the importance it truly has. If you’ve been wondering how long each muscle should rest, this is the best place to find out.

Rest is the time of rest when you pause your activities to recover your strength. Thus, you give your muscles time to transform everything you have done into growth and development. Rest allows you to recover your glycogen reserves. It also prevents muscle fatigue in the next session.

As you rest, you will boost your performance. It’s not worth putting your body at risk by not getting your muscle areas back together. You could injure yourself.

How long should each muscle generally rest?

You need an estimated time of 48 to 72 hours for you to achieve complete muscle recovery. However, you also have to consider this time frame to know how long it takes for a muscle to deflate.

In reality, there are some parts of your body that need something a little different. So here’s how long each muscle should rest, depending on the group it belongs to.

Small muscles

This includes the biceps, triceps, soleus, and gastrocnemius. The abdominals and deltoids are also included in this muscle group. In order for them to recover and grow, they need to rest for at least 48 hours.

each muscle should rest
The abdominals are considered small muscles. They can be ready for a new session after 48 hours.

Large muscles

In this case, we’re talking about the quadriceps, pectorals, and back muscles. The recovery needed increases to about 60 hours minimum and 72 hours maximum.

How long should each muscle rest in a weekly routine?

There are different types of rest that you should apply to your exercise plan. Some are short lapses of rest while you are performing them. Others are longer periods for when you finish training.

During exercise

Short rest times help you prevent muscle fatigue. In addition, they control the mental plane, which also suffers from exhaustion.

Your trainer or coach may define these breaks according to the objective of the routine and the maximum heart rate you can reach. You can consider the following model based on the number of repetitions and sets:

  • Rest 1 minute between sets when you perform 13 or more repetitions
  • Rest 1 to 2 minutes per set when you perform between 8 and 12 repetitions
  • Rest 2 to 3 minutes per set when you perform between 4 and 7 repetitions
  • Rest 3 to 5 minutes per set when you perform between 1 and 3 repetitions

These parameters are based on the fact that you’re likely using maximum loads. That’s why there’s more rest time with fewer reps, since it’s assumed that you’ve exhausted yourself more by lifting a heavy weight.

After training

It’s recommended that you don’t have more than one training session per day and that you can carefully manage your daily loads. At those times when you use heavier loads, you will need to rest the entire next day.

This extended rest allows for excellent recovery. If you’ve decided to train three days a week, try to intersperse them with rest days and leave the most demanding exercises for the end.

Progress in your bodybuilding needs between 2 to 3 workouts a week. It all depends on the objective you are pursuing and your physical characteristics.

There are many routines in which you strengthen all the small and large muscles on the same day. Depending on this, you can vary the days you go to the gym.

We think you may be interested in reading this, too: What Type of Diet Do I Need if I Want to Gain Muscle Mass?

Muscle rest while you sleep

One of the ideal moments for the recovery of your body is sleep. This is the time for healing and glycogen synthesis.

It’s always best to get enough sleep after a day of exercise. The ratio between the hours you train and the hours you sleep should be directly proportional.

The longer you exercise, the more time you should spend sleeping to recover. If the intensity of your activities is light, 8 hours of sleep is enough, but if the level of demand is high, you need at least 10 hours.

Good rest is key
Night rest is often underrated, but it plays a key role in muscle hypertrophy.

Final recommendations for your rest time to be effective

Every detail is important when it comes to training. From a balanced diet and routines adapted to your reality to giving the deserved value to rest during and after each activity.

Set aside at least two rest days a week, during which you can disconnect from this reality. This will also help you better focus on your goals and identify areas for improvement.

Establish and comply with sleep schedules. With this, your body begins to recognize the moments of rest.

Choose a relaxing activity before any rest, such as reading a book or listening to music. This helps you to relax and enjoy the moment of rest more fully.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Bompa T, Buzzichelli C. Periodización del entrenamiento deportivo. Cuarta edición. España: Editorial Paidotribo; 2021.
  • Ramirez R, Álvarez C, Andrade D. Pausa de descanso durante entranamiento pliométrico. EF deportes revista digital. 2012; Argentina: 168.
  • Dattilo, Murilo, et al. “Sleep and muscle recovery: endocrinological and molecular basis for a new and promising hypothesis.” Medical hypotheses 77.2 (2011): 220-222.
  • Mata F, Grimaldi M, Sánchez A. Reposición del glucógeno muscular en la recuperación del deportista. Universidad de Sevilla: 2019.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.