Is it True You Should Wait 48-72 Hours Before Working the Same Muscle Again?
Yes, that's true. Well, sort of, kinda, maybe, sometimes. . . . .
The truth is waiting 48-72 hours before working a muscle group again is a very wide generalization. It's not a bad rule for a beginner but you need to personalize it to your own situation after a little experimentation. The best answer for you will depend on several factors:
- Your "training age"-Training age is how long long you have been working out. Necessary recovery time will vary greatly from beginner to intermediate to elite.
- Muscle group being worked- Smaller muscles or muscle groups (arms, for example )will recover faster than larger muscles or muscle groups (like legs or back).
- The type of training-Hypertrophy, pure strength, Olympic lifts, endurance....
- Your actual age-Generally, the older you get the longer it takes to recover. (another generalization)
- The intensity of your workouts- Intensity definitions differ from sport to sport. But to give you a rough idea of what I mean, jumping rope is rated a 10 while walking at 3 mph is a 3.3.
- Is you nutrition on point?
There is also the matter of defining what we mean by "working a muscle". The truth is you probably never go through a workout without working the muscle you worked yesterday to some extent.
Let's use the triceps as an example: If you did tricep extensions yesterday on your regular "arm day" and today you do bench press on your regular "chest day" you have worked the triceps two days in a row. If you did deadlifts yesterday, good luck finding a muscle to do today that didn't get work yesterday. So the "rule" of 48 to 72 hours before working a muscle again is somewhat of myth to begin with.
It comes down to how hard or intense you worked a particular muscle. "Recovery" can be measured in time (48 to 72 hours) or intensity (Is the muscle in question the primary mover in an exercise or a secondary mover?)
For any muscle, if the second workout isn't better than the last one in terms of more weight, more reps, more sets or shorter rest periods between sets you may need to change your program to allow more recovery for that muscle if that trend continues for two or three weeks.
Only you can determine exactly how much recovery time you need before working that muscle/muscle group again. Too close together can definitely hurt your gains. Too far apart and you may be leaving gains on the table.
You don't get stronger/bigger/faster in the gym. Gains come during recovery.