QUESTION: This goes back to the discussion a while back about strength training for older cyclists. My question is, how long to recover between strength training sessions, and how that varies with soreness. I am 63, and have been an off-and-on athlete since I was a teenager, so I understand most of the practicalities of next-day (or, as I have gotten older, 2nd-day) soreness, avoiding injuries, etc, but I am wondering if I should wait until my DOMS is completely gone before doing another workout, or wait until most of the soreness is gone, or is it ok to workout again after two or three recovery days even if I’m still pretty sore? Which plan will give me the quickest gains (assuming I don’t go so hard that I injure myself)? – Dave
RBR REPLIES: There’s always a balance between recovery and training frequency for optimal gains, particularly in the context of mixing strength training and cycling.
Since you point out that are an experienced athlete familiar enough with avoiding injury, I’ll make this suggestion. Instead of chasing complete DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) disappearance, aim for functional recovery. This means you can train again when your soreness doesn’t significantly affect your form or performance in the next workout. So pay attention to that aspect rather than worrying about being completely recovered from soreness.
However, continue to listen to your body. Don’t push yourself through excessive pain or fatigue, as it can hinder progress and increase injury risk. Make sure you’re also getting enough recovery sleep, and that you’re eating enough calories and hydrating enough to support recovery.
The key to muscle growth is gradually increasing the stress on your muscles through more weight, reps, or sets over time. Small, consistent increases prevent injuries and optimize gains. As a reality check, is it possible that you’re trying to lift too heavy, doing too many sets or raising your weights too quickly? Or perhaps not lifting regularly, which can cause a lot of muscle soreness each time you start anew? Those are things I’d look out for.
One last thing to consider might be incorporating planned rest periods (e.g., deload weeks) every few weeks to help your body adapt and recover from your lifting, potentially leading to faster long-term progress.