The Importance of the Right Balance between Rest and Load in Strength Training
Muscle growth requires progressive training, but recovery is only possible with the right balance between rest and workload. Finding the optimal ratio of load to rest is influenced by the load of the individual exercise and individual characteristics such as nutrition, stress factors, and sleep habits. A single-strength training exercise disturbs the body's state of equilibrium, resulting in a temporary decrease in performance due to peripheral and central nervous system fatigue and muscle damage. Knowing whether recovery from the previous exercise has been completed before starting a new one is essential. If the central nervous system fatigue is still present, it may impair muscle growth stimulation. Recovery from exercise must be balanced with load, as the muscle soreness, mitochondrial biogenesis, and remodeling induced by exercise require rest. Recovery from a single strength exercise can take up to one week.
Recovery generally occurs within 48 hours on average if the exercise has not caused extensive muscle damage, allowing the muscle group to train in a recovered state on average 2-3 times per week. However, recovery may take longer if the exercise has caused a lot of microdamage to the muscles. Training factors such as high volumes, training to failure, heavier loads, eccentric training, full range of motion, and short rest between sets can lead to increased muscle damage and longer recovery times. On the other hand, several factors are essential for muscle growth, so avoiding them entirely is impossible. Finding the proper dosage of these factors for the individual is necessary to ensure timely recovery from training.
The fitness-fatigue model illustrates the optimal load/rest relationship, which describes the fitness-induced changes in fitness and fatigue during exercise. The term 'fitness' refers to the adaptations induced by exercise that contribute to performance, while 'fatigue' refers to physiological responses induced by exercise that reduce performance. The training aims to maximize fitness gains while keeping fatigued as low as possible. Short periods of reduced effort are recommended, especially for more experienced exercisers, during which fatigue is reduced, but fitness is maintained.
However, more experienced trainers may find themselves in a situation where they do not have time to recover before the next session fully. Extending the recovery period would result in a lower training frequency, hindering their progress. In these cases, the use of functional overload may be necessary. Functional overload means training a muscle group even if the muscle damage caused by the previous exercise has not yet been recovered. This leads to a temporary drop in performance, but it can stimulate muscle growth and be used for experienced lifters who have reached a plateau in their progress.
In conclusion, finding the right balance between rest and load is essential for developing muscle growth. Individual characteristics and training factors affect the optimal ratio of load to rest. It is essential to know when to start a new exercise to avoid central nervous system fatigue and impaired muscle growth stimulation. Short periods of reduced effort are recommended, especially for more experienced exercisers, during which fatigue is reduced, but fitness is maintained. For more experienced exercisers who have reached a plateau in their progress, functional overload may be necessary to stimulate muscle growth.