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Do You Really Need 48-72hrs Between Workouts?

Lately there has been a large influx of new followers on the Facebook page, and with that inevitably comes questions regarding frequency of training. More than a few people asked me and the athletes why we say to squat every day, stating that they heard “muscles need at least 48-72 hours to recover.”

Not sure where this tidbit of information originated, but it seems to be a blanket statement that does not apply to all the different facets of strength training protocols. I have divided recovery into what I consider to be three important aspects that I will touch upon in this article:

1. The quality of recovery time is more important than the quantity.

 Coach Mike Burgener once said “There is no such thing as overtraining, just under-recovery.” This statement holds true for all of us. Sure, you can bust your butt during training and take 48 hours off in between workouts, and still have joint pains, poor performance, and minimal gains. Why?

Your recovery time may be wasted. Simply taking time off does not ensure proper recovery. If you spending your recovery time eating processed crap, sitting at the computer(with forward head posture)  and not spending any time working on SMR, getting proper sleep,  or keeping your joints happy, then you are not truly recovering. Personally for me, if I have papers and posts to write over a weekend when I take two days off, I will feel worse on Monday after those two days than if I were to take one day off, due to sitting in a compromised position.
If your recovery is on point, you can easily work a 4-5 day split every week, following proper periodization protocols, which will be explained below. Start treating your recovery as another part of your training, because it is.

2. The amount of volume, load, and frequency play an important part in recovery time.

It’s fairly common knowledge that the amount of muscle and CNS stimulus has a direct effect on progress made: Too much stimulus and injuries/burnouts can occur, too little stimulus and no progress will be made.

When we say that we squat every day, we aren’t squatting 90-100% of our max every day, it varies based on the program, and the protocol for reps is as follows:  as the volume (# of reps) decrease, the load (weight) increases. Following this protocol will allow lifters to train 4-5 days a week with proper recovery and program design. Arguably the most effective training protocol  for a drug-free lifter is “supercompensation.” Coach Mike Conroy once told me that supercompensation will give a drug-free lifter about 90% of the results of a lifter who uses drugs, the caveat being that it will take 3-4 years longer to reach the same goal.

Supercompensation follows a simple protocol:
% = % of maxes

Week 1: 65%
Week 2: 70%
Week 3: 60%
Week 4:75%

This type of program can be used in a 4, 8 or 12 week program, following the outline of 2 preparatory weeks, 1 deload week, and 1 performance week. The percentages will increase as the months progress, usually with an end goal in mind, such as a meet. As the percentage increases, the volume decreases, allowing for proper recovery time between workouts. This example applies particularly to Olympic Weightlifting, but can be slightly altered for other sports as well, which brings us to our last topic.

3. Different goals require different lengths of recovery time.

The notion that 48-72 hours is required most likely came from the realm of bodybuilding, where allowing time for muscle growth is of the upmost importance. Thibadeau states that different muscles take different lengths of time to recover, depending on the size of the muscle,  I would add to that the set and rep scheme when calculating recovery time.
 Obviously a bodybuilder, whose goal is to create as much micro-tears in the muscle tissue (4×12) is going to be different than a powerlifter whose concern is to see  strength/power gains by focusing on less reps and heavier weight (5×2). The powerlifter’s rep scheme will create more stress on the CNS than the actual muscles themselves, which will allow for a faster recovery time. Although, a smart powerlifter will be doing assistance exercises to create more muscle tissue as well.

I agree with Chaos&Pain (NSFW, unless you work for me) that I think too many athletes are overly concerned with recovery and are afraid of putting in a lot of hard work. It doesn’t take steroids to be an exceptional athlete, you may not end up like Klokov, but with what we know about chemistry, neuroscience, and recovery abilities, you can get pretty damn close to the level of a moderate steroid user if you do your research on optimal recovery practices that are legal.


However, to all you Crossfitters: please take MORE rest days. Most gyms post workouts that are made for an athlete who is 100% recharged and ready to go, not someone who has done 6 WODS in a row and hasn’t slept more than 4 hours a night all week. I see too many people get injured simply because they don’t take enough rest days from Crossfit, the stress on the CNS from back to back WODs is unbelievable. Eating peanut butter and drinking Progenex will not turn you into Froning, so please take a damn rest day. 

If programming is something you need help with, LBEB does offer programming that can be tailed to your needs. Check out the Consultation page.

36 thoughts on “Do You Really Need 48-72hrs Between Workouts?

  1. no such thing as over-training? sorry but I’ve experienced it. To have that as your first statement makes one question your entire article. Overtraining is real

  2. The fact that you think I don’t believe in overtraining lets me know that you didn’t read my article at all. Overtraining means you are under-recovered, and I gave specific examples of how under-recovery can occur. Next time read the whole thing.

  3. Thank God you smacked that stupid comment in the face.

  4. I wholeheartedly agree with this article. Looking back on it now, I’ve gone the past 3 months with only 2 days or so that I haven’t done anything. Most of my days are at least 4 hours of working out. People at school question me about it, then look at me like I’m on crack…I just shrug and keep walking

  5. This is just what I needed to read. Thanks!

  6. Go hard AND go home!

  7. I’d love to to read your tale of overtraining. Enlighten us.

    This will be fascinating.


  9. If there is no other option to get more than 5 hours of sleep a night (work and travel constraints) how many days of Xfit and heavy lifting should be in a weeks cycle?

  10. Great info as always. Keep this stuff coming !!!

  11. “Peanut Butter and Progenex wont turn you into Froning!!!!!”…… Pure Genius sir!!!!

  12. Shit, I am overtraining myself at work! Better start taking every other day off!

  13. Great article. I am trying to listen to my body and rest accordingly. I haven’t found that perfect balance yet but I do know that if I do nothing and eat crap on my “recovery” days it doesn’t make my workouts any easier.

  14. over training only happens if u don’t recover properly,as stated in the quote “There is no such thing as over training, just under-recovery.” u can hit each muscle twice a week if you like, and work out 3+ hours a day as long as u get enough rest and eat properly, you wont over train your body.

  15. Great article! And what about that 45-60 min limit for a workout because of cortisol production? I guess your workouts last more than 45min… I usually do 2 hours.
    Is it only applicable to bodybuilding where they do high reps with little rest?
    Do you know if having 3-5 min rest period between sets let you avoid this cortisol production?

  16. is there such a thing as being over-recovered?

  17. Off topic, but is it possible to get an article on strongman training in particular? Specifically rep schemes applied to kegs, stones and so forth and if they differ from traditional lifts. Also how they can be incorporated into a training program.

  18. Killer article. I need to look further into the squat daily deal … 😀


  20. If there’s no such thing as overtraining, then why not lift 8 hours a day, 7 days a week. Just eat and train all day, every day. Do hundreds of sets. Should be feasible if there no such thing is over training.

    Unless there is such a thing as overtraining, as alluded to by “under-recovery”. Meaning your training exceeds your ability to recover.

    Fucking rediculous people.

  21. What the article meant as I understood it to say was that everyone’s body is unique, you can train as hard as you want, provided
    You can recover efficiently enough before your next work out to be equally or more beneficial. The article does not refute the presence of over training phenomenon, it just says that if you can train 5 days a week effectively, then your body is recovering efficiently eg if you are 18 years old.
    So stop picking on the semantics, focus on the message!,

  22. This. Thanks.

  23. loving the video to the left about eat big to get massive! ‘if youre not eating healthy fats and carbs in your diet you mite as well be eating a bag of dicks’
    what a legend!!

  24. You sir, are a fucking moron and should take a critical thinking class before you internet again.

  25. Depending on how much stress you put upon them, you can train everyday as long as you eat right and sleep enough. Arms for example are a smaller muscle and if they’re not growing train them two or three times a week. I’ve done it and focused on lighter weight and the sqeeze and they blew up. Think about dudes that get out of prison that been working biceps freaking everyday, no supps, no big meals every two hours, and they come out with twenty-one inchers. Bottom line look at yourself and see what needs to improve and train that a little more during the week and you will grow, strength or muscle size.

  26. Overtraining is just an excuse that weak bodys use to explain why they failed on a set that was too heavy for them to handle to begin with. “Oh I could have got that 400lb bench press but I just did chest yesterday bro”. Or maybe you are just an ignorant fool who found himself trying to impress people in the gym, and when you fail like the clown you are, you make the excuse, “oh I didn’t get enough rest my chest is still sore from yesterday” take better care of your body and you can do the same lifts every day.

  27. Theoretically, you can do all of those things if you get the right amount of rest, though… However, the amount of sleep needed to recover from that type of training may not be possible. Hence, the “theoretically.”

  28. do you even lift?

  29. We are anonymous. We are legion. We curl in the squatrack. Expect us.

  30. I’ve done it and focused on lighter weight and the sqeeze and they blew up. Think about dudes that get out of prison that been working biceps freaking everyday, no supps, no big meals every two hours, and they come out with twenty-one inchers.
    top home workouts

  31. this is a ridiculously dangerous article, i believe it should be removed for there are people that will read it and say sound ok, let’s do it. In reality anything over 60% will tax your cns beyond the point of ‘instant’ recovery (meaning: YOU WILL NEED TIME OFF) and let me tell you this, the body can function with a week or 2 (or even 2months off after serious exhaustion) your cns will not, for it simply requires much more time for recovering!

    Who do i know? i am off because of constant pushing, so reading crap like that will put you on a very ugly situation, so unless you do not use 2-3 steroids in doses that would kill a male adult horse do not even consider trying any such a shit.

    Ps. try it to have/experience the f**k so that you will NEVER EVER do it again.

  32. Rest is huge. Of coarse all factors come into play. Nutrition can make all the difference in the world. My trick to prevent overtraining, or in this case under recovery, are vegetables; and yes protein is a must but make sure it has no added hormones and anti biotics. Processed foods and not enough veggies will cause you to NOT recover but to have a low immune system, therefore your body will not focus on recovery but on the handling of the unhealthy foods within your body.
    P.S. Glucosamine really helps me with joint aches and pains.

  33. You guys are so retarded. The article is trying to stop noobs from thinking they need to rest for the sake of it.

  34. Wait, wut? Not sure if serious, but if you can’t work at 60% or more for a reasonable period of time, then you aren’t recovering. Period. End of story.

    People who obsess about fitness and push constantly, for hours at a time, 7 days per week will find a way to overtrain. Those who use their brains for training and recovery should be able to maintain workloads substantially higher than 60%…

  35. Bottom line, everyone is built different. Every single persons bones, joints, muscles, etc. are different. Not everyone can become an Olympic or Pro Athlete. If you’re that person saying “If you train hard, you can do it,” you’re the biggest idiot and stop giving suggestions. I can go on and on, but people like you guys, “Me too,” won’t listen to anyone anyway.

  36. lets see what ct fletcher has to say about this lol

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