Time course of recovery following resistance training leading or not to failure

Eur J Appl Physiol. 2017 Dec;117(12):2387-2399. doi: 10.1007/s00421-017-3725-7. Epub 2017 Sep 30.


Purpose: To describe the acute and delayed time course of recovery following resistance training (RT) protocols differing in the number of repetitions (R) performed in each set (S) out of the maximum possible number (P).

Methods: Ten resistance-trained men undertook three RT protocols [S × R(P)]: (1) 3 × 5(10), (2) 6 × 5(10), and (3) 3 × 10(10) in the bench press (BP) and full squat (SQ) exercises. Selected mechanical and biochemical variables were assessed at seven time points (from - 12 h to + 72 h post-exercise). Countermovement jump height (CMJ) and movement velocity against the load that elicited a 1 m s-1 mean propulsive velocity (V1) and 75% 1RM in the BP and SQ were used as mechanical indicators of neuromuscular performance.

Results: Training to muscle failure in each set [3 × 10(10)], even when compared to completing the same total exercise volume [6 × 5(10)], resulted in a significantly higher acute decline of CMJ and velocity against the V1 and 75% 1RM loads in both BP and SQ. In contrast, recovery from the 3 × 5(10) and 6 × 5(10) protocols was significantly faster between 24 and 48 h post-exercise compared to 3 × 10(10). Markers of acute (ammonia, growth hormone) and delayed (creatine kinase) fatigue showed a markedly different course of recovery between protocols, suggesting that training to failure slows down recovery up to 24-48 h post-exercise.

Conclusions: RT leading to failure considerably increases the time needed for the recovery of neuromuscular function and metabolic and hormonal homeostasis. Avoiding failure would allow athletes to be in a better neuromuscular condition to undertake a new training session or competition in a shorter period of time.

Keywords: Back squat; Bench press; Hormonal response; Muscle strength; Weight training.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle Fatigue*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Random Allocation
  • Recovery of Function
  • Resistance Training / adverse effects
  • Resistance Training / methods*