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How to Tell If You’ve Recovered from a Workout?

I have 3 kids. The youngest has just turned 1 and wakes up every night. I haven’t had a full nights sleep in a year.

I train 4/5 times a day.

High rep bodyweight conditioning and a gym session.

I eat a lot because i need to fuel these workouts.

I always wake up the next day feeling fresh and ready to rock.

Why?

I love training.

Well I love the elevated mood that comes with knowing I’ve crushed hard work. The actual training itself is dark and requires a degree of mental fortitude to get through. It’s not enjoyable.

Recovery is a mindset. Unless I suffer from an injury that incapacitates me then I’m always ready to go. It’s all in the head.

Recovery is just another limitation we put on ourselves to avoid genuine hard work

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That could be one way to go. I remember reading a method to it at some point but cant remember from whom or the method described.

After its all said and done, it comes down to what you know and how you feel. I know that with 2 days rest its time to go again even if I feel like crap. On the other hand, I also know that even with one day of rest I may feel good to go, but I’ll just end up putting myself into a serious hole.

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In knew it would come down to your If you can breath keep lifting, you’re recovered! I haven’t trained like you have the last 20 years but somehow that doesn’t sink in. I’m sorry I came to this part of the forum .
Scott

Keep reading.

That was just a side convo between me and him.

Through my many years weight training all I had to gauge recovery was shared information and my instincts.

I could rarely depend on my instincts. I was highly driven and needed to plan a program that provided sufficient time for recovery. I always allowed at least one whole day off between body parts. I always took Sundays off with no resistance training.

I just can’t imagine going to the gym and testing my grip to determine if I would workout or go home.

If your warm-up sets feel like working sets you probably haven’t recovered.

For me that meant absolutely nothing. Some of my strongest days were when the warm ups felt the worst, and conversely, some my worst workouts were when my warm ups felt the best.

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Some people have infinite recovery ability and can train just about any way they like , I’m not one Of those . I always push it hard when I workout and I’m always just guessing if I have recovered enough to do it again . I relied on instinct and gut feeling but I think for years I was constantly in a state of not recovered yet when I’d workout again. I could do the routine I did today just about every day if I wanted to and I’d get a great workout but I wouldn’t grow. It’s like running, I could run everyday but I wouldnt get any bigger or stronger. I’d just get more fit. It would be so nice to take some of the guess work out of this !
Scott

Same here!
Scott

I don’t think there is really a short answer to this. Are you feeling motivated to train when it’s time to train or are you feeling like you’re “burned out”? If you are constantly tired, you may be doing too much and need to back off a bit. A lot of people talk about the muscular fatigue when strength training but don’t seem to mention the neurological fatigue.

The way that’s worked for me when training is not putting so much importance on the outcome of the workout but rather the habit of it. Train when you are supposed to train. Listen to your body with your warm-up/ramp-up sets. If it feels right, try to push yourself for a new personal best. If not, just do the bare minimum and call it a day.

Progression when you get more advanced isn’t in a linear fashion. You will have up-days, down-days, and days in between. The important thing is if you could track your progress on a line-chart, that it would steadily increase with time.

I hope this little bit of humble advice helps.

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@entsminger

I read this, a few years back. Don’t think I ever tried it, or felt that it was necessary (for myself) but maybe you’d want to check it out.

In the end though, if you’re looking for a method or tool to tell you definitively if you’re recovered or not, it doesn’t exist.

And while you may not feel that you rely on your grip strength during your workouts, it can still be a reflector of where you’re at. Ever try squeezing your fist as soon as you wake up? Maybe it’s just me, but depending on my night I can’t squeeze it as hard as I can, say, a half hour after waking up. Not that my hand is completely useless, haha, but I think there is some correlation between grip strength and “alertness” or something.

This type of thinking and questioning just doesn’t seem useful.

“How do I tell if I fully digested my last meal before I eat again?”

“How can I know with absolute certainty I am tired enough to go to sleep for the night?”

“I just blinked 6 seconds ago. Should I blink again, or hold off for a bit?”

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Was it a full body workout involving lots of muscles that were all tired? Or a workout for a specific body part and just that one part was tired?

I’ve always got energy to train . Even after a hard workout I’m ready to go again . Even on days when I feel tired I have some of my best workouts.
Scott

I did my usual workout of about 6-7 exercises and was down on most all of them . At one point I switched to higher lighter reps just to do something.
Scott

I’m more like @RT_Nomad where I’ve rolled into the gym miserable but end up having my best day, or even the opposite where I felt great and then couldn’t do anything.

I do best just following a written plan and knocking it out. Thinking is not my strength. I just accept some days will be bad and that’s the lesser evil

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For me there are just too many variables in life that impact on how you feel vs how you perform that make this extremely hard to find an answer for. I can feel terrible one day as a result of high work stress or lack of sleep because of kids or just poor hydration from the day before. Whilst this means I feel bad it doesn’t necessarily mean I am not recovered or that I wont have a good session. I am similar to @TrainForPain in that I have a program (written by my coach) and I just follow the program. The program allows for a little autoregulation in that if I feel terrible I might miss a rep or two and if I feel great I add a rep or two to the last set.
By having a set program It stops me worrying about the minute details and just do work.
Thinking about your question a little more, I guess that for me if I have continued poor training sessions this is a good sign I need to deload or reset. But this is not a day to day decision, ots based on a number of sessions.
How do you currently decide for yourself ?

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This is exactly how it is for me too. I can almost never predict how a workout will go, based on how I’m feeling when I start.

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It’s funny, I have days like this where I go on to hit a rep PR. I just tend to trust my program and that I’ve intelligently spaced out my days enough to properly recover. I always chalk it up to some mental block or maybe my nervous system just needs a few sets to get fully activated. I appreciate people who can train more intuitively or by listening to their bodies, but I’ve always felt mine was deceiving me.

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Same. I respect people who can train more intuitively and really know what their body is telling them before they even enter the gym, but I’m best sticking to an intelligently planned out program…even if I’m the one who wrote it lol. I write my programs when I’m relaxing eating or watching Netflix or something so I make more calculated decisions than in the heat of battle–like let’s project out these next 12 weeks to add +10lb to your bench press vs. LET’S GO FOR +20LB PR EVERY WEEK LIGHT WEIGHT BABYYYYY!

I think part of it is that we can only measure how a weight feels as opposed to some objective measure, i.e. if someone filmed our warm up sets and we actually realize it looks easy and the bar speed is excellent.

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