How Do Rest Days Improve Muscle Recovery Time?


By UK Personal Trainer

Jamie Bantleman

Muscle growth can be one of the more difficult processes in the world of fitness due to the hugely contrasting viewpoints from various sources – whether, from the social media phenomenon’s to the many opinions shared on the internet!

What is Muscle Growth? 

Hypertrophy, meaning the body is under response from the anabolic hormone which creates an increase in the size of muscle mass due to an increase in the length and thickness of each muscle cell without any increase in the number of cells (1)

Hypertrophy is caused when the muscle cell is being worked usually in terms of resistance training and correct nutritional protocols.

Resistance training is obviously key to muscle growth alongside a calorie surplus. The muscle cell is damaged by weight training, therefore nutrition and supplementation will be the tool in which will help replenishment and recovery.

When your weight training programme is both effective and efficient, recovery is absolutely vital to allow for hypertrophy.

Alongside nutrition, the aiding of recovery would involve rest days within your weekly fitness protocol.

Rest Days 

To rest, will allow your body to recover and replenish.

The process of a rest day would be to ensure you continue the calorie intake which you would consume on a training day.

rest day

You would be in less of calorie deficit than you would when training. This will obviously aid recovery and help muscular growth.

Secondly, you are also allowing your bodies adrenals to take a rest. Adrenal Insufficiency (often referred to as adrenal fatigue) is a common case with many people. It is usually when the adrenal glands become hypo-responsive (under-responsive) to signals sent from the brain to secrete hormones. 

Primary Adrenal insufficiency is when the adrenal glands themselves respond less to secreted ACTH (Adrenocorticotropic hormone) or are otherwise damaged, and despite the hypothalamus and pituitary working fine, the adrenal glands do not secrete the hormones required of them; cortisol and Dehydroepiandrosterone. This can be diagnosed with an ACTH-stimulation test by an endocrinologist, and the main pathology is less secretion and synthesis of cortisol. (2)

Benefits Of Rest Days?

Alongside mental/adrenal benefits that rest days allow, physically you will be able to train harder due to the body being able to respond better to weight training.

We must not forget, ones ability to lift heavy weight while the muscle is placed under tension is key when training for hypertrophy; therefore you will need that rest to be able to continue lifting with both intention and maintaining the heavyweight.


An example of a weekly protocol including weight training can look like the following:


3 says on (training), 1 day off (rest day) within a 4-day protocol.

1 Quads, Hamstrings and Calves
2 Chest, Shoulders and Triceps
3 Back and Biceps

Take Home Message

Weight training will inevitably tear the muscle to make room to grow – but rest and recovery are the real secret to muscle growth!



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