One of the challenges of being a performance coach with a team is planning training, particularly when in-season. Travel schedules and a busy competition schedule make this especially difficult. A common question that many coaches have is whether resistance training on the day after a competition effects recovery. On the one hand, coaches are rightfully concerned that insufficient recovery will be attained if we apply another stressor 24 hours later in the form of a workout. On the other hand, the day after a competition may be the only good opportunity to get some strength work in before the team has to compete or travel again. There’s no doubt that athletes are not fully recovered from a competition by 24-hours, however what impact might resistance training have on the time course of recovery of muscle function and performance, particularly if the emphasis is on upper body work to spare the legs?
A new study published ahead of print in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research investigated this topic with a sample of 12 resistance trained adults males. In a randomized cross-over design, the subjects performed either an upper body workout comprised of 5 exercises for 3 sets to failure with 70% of 1RM or a control session (15 minutes of passive rest) 24 hours after an exercise induced muscle damage session. The muscle damage session consisted of 5 sets of 15 repetitions of eccentric contractions for the hamstrings. Immediately post and at 20, 24 and 48 hours after the muscle damage session, creatine kinase, single leg jump and perceived hamstring soreness was measured.
The main result was that the upper-body workout performed the day following muscle damaging exercise accelerated the recovery of only slow eccentric force (ES = 0.65). Each of the other performance variables were not different between conditions. Therefore, it would appear that scheduling an upper body workout on the day following a competition that taxes primarily the lower body (e.g., soccer) will not impede recovery. According to the current study, it may even accelerate lower body recovery, at least with regards to slow eccentric strength.
Abaïdia, A. E., Delecroix, B., Leduc, C., Lamblin, J., McCall, A., Baquet, G., & Dupont, G. (2016). Effects of a strength training session after an exercise inducing muscle damage on recovery kinetics. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research. In Press.