Good recovery is essential for making progress with the 5×5 workout program. You need to start each workout in a fresh and recovered state, so you can train effectively, push yourself hard, and progressively lift more. If you don’t recover fully, you’ll start each workout in a weaker state, your technique might suffer, and you won’t be able to work as hard. As a rule of thumb, you should take a day to recover between workouts, regardless of your training experience. The original 5×5 or Madcow 5×5 program is demanding and requires good recovery for you to overload your muscles continually.
Reasons that Recovery Time is Crucial with the 5×5 Workout Program
Proper recovery is essential for muscle growth (1). Your body needs time to repair the muscle damage you’ve caused and reinforce the tissue. In doing so, your muscles can handle physical stress better in the future.
Recovering well between workouts is vital for training with good technique. By getting adequate rest, you start each workout in a fresh state, which allows you to lift more weight with good form. In contrast, by training in a fatigued state, you can’t lift as much weight, and you might resort to poor technique to keep adding weight on the bar (2).
Good recovery reduces your risk of injury (3). First, by giving your body time to heal itself, it repairs any damage you’ve caused to your joints, connective tissues, and muscles. Doing so prevents damage from accumulating and leading to an overuse injury. Second, good recovery allows you to train with good technique, crucial in training longevity and injury prevention.
Adequate recovery between workouts is essential for preventing overtraining syndrome. Stress is cumulative and can eventually lead to a state of overtraining, which brings symptoms such as extreme fatigue, weakness, lack of motivation, poor sleep, and more.
Things to do on your Recovery Time
- Sleep for at least seven hours per night (4).
- Eat at least 0.8 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight to support muscle repair and growth (5).
- Try some yoga on your days off. Light movement can support recovery by increasing blood flow to your muscles.
- Don’t fear carbs. Eat rice, potatoes, pasta, fruits, and other similar foods to fuel your body and replenish lost glycogen (6).
- Stay hydrated. Men should drink up to 3.7 liters of water per day, and women should aim for 2.7 liters.
Most trainees focus on their workouts, such as the 5×5 workout program and how to get the most out of their gym time. But adequate recovery matters even more because that’s the time when your body recovers and grows stronger.
Good recovery is about giving your body enough time, hydrating yourself, sleeping well, and eating a balanced diet. In doing so, you feel good, recover in time, and can make better progress in the long run. In contrast, poor recovery leads to suboptimal workouts, worse technique, and slow progress.