Do you give yourself enough time for muscle Regeneration?
How about muscle regeneration? Are you giving yourself enough rest to make progress? Here are two methods you can use to measure and monitor the rate of your body and muscle recovery.
We address the following four questions, among others:
- Why should you measure your muscle regeneration?
- What is regeneration, and why is it crucial?
- How do you quickly and easily measure whether you are getting enough rest?
- subjective signals
- objective signals
- Heart rate variability as an optional recovery marker
The core of this article is a new feedback system that helps you to sharpen your body awareness and to recognize invisible progress blockers at an early stage.
The good news is: You can carry out 80% of the “measurements” without any tools – except for paper and pencil. And you don’t need more than a moment.
Sounds good? Let’s go!
Why should you measure your muscle regeneration?
Whenever we take care of a client – whether they are competitive or recreational athletes – we always have the topic of “recreation” on the screen.
It is important to us that he can see how well he regenerates.
We make use of the following:
Muscle regeneration is measurable.
This includes muscle regeneration and that of the central nervous system, tendons, joints, and the mind.
Only if you take time to rest can you make any progress. And vice versa:
If you burn the candle from both ends, you end up on the hamster wheel, risking frustration and regression.
Our training is an excellent blueprint for life as a whole. I am firmly convinced that:
If you find the balance between training and recovery in sport, you can benefit from it in all areas of life.
Not just because you get up in the morning more balanced and full of energy.
But also because you see the following connection in black and white:
You will reach your destination faster if you step on the brakes at the right time.
You can measure your regeneration to get a feeling for when this “right time” has come. And probably should.
What is muscle regeneration?
Recovery after training (= regeneration) is just as important a part of your success as the training itself.
The GOAL of your training is super-compensation.
You want to get better, and you can only achieve that if you do two things:
- You set a training stimulus. You want to leave your comfort zone during training.
- You give your body enough time to regenerate (recover) between your training sessions. Not too much and not too little.
If you take a look at the graph, it becomes clear:
How much time is required for muscle regeneration depends on the intensity of the load (i.e. your training).
However, other factors affect recovery time. And in all areas of life.
Here are some examples of factors that can prolong recovery (and super-compensation):
- Strength and endurance training with high intensity or high training volume,
- little sleep,
- conflicts with family or friends,
- nutrient and vitamin deficiencies,
- deadline pressure at work,
- an upcoming move,
- a combination of these factors or
- other stressors.
If you overstep the mark and go full throttle in all areas of life, you jeopardise your progress and your health and joie de vivre.
In the right amount, stress is a positive thing.
If we stick to the training, the overload method of strength training is a stressor.
But it’s also a necessary signal for your body to super compensate — that is, get stronger and build muscle.
And that assumes the regeneration time is neither too long nor too short.
How do you measure your muscle recovery?
Can you expect top performance from yourself in training today, or should you take it a little easier?
As you learn to listen to your body’s signals, you’ll become better and better at answering this question.
It helps if you focus on a few body signals that change the better (or worse), you are recovered.
We can divide the signals into two areas:
- Subjective body signals
- Objective body signals
Ideally, you track all factors daily, note them and pay attention to trends. Let’s go through the values in quick succession.
1. – Acquisition of subjective body signals
It is enough if you take a moment every day and listen to yourself:
How do you feel?
In terms of appetite, energy, and desire to train. Rate each of the following variables on a scale of 0-5.
As already mentioned, this feedback system is also about recognizing TRENDS.
This requires that you record the values over a longer period.
A period of 14 days is ideal to decide if you are on track or should make adjustments.
It is best to enter the subjective body signals in a table like the one below (Table 1).
In coaching, I go through the four values with my client every 14 days and ignore small fluctuations but big changes.
If two (or more) stats are declining AT THE SAME TIME, you should look at your lifestyle.
If two or more of the following values get worse at the same time, a red warning light should go on in front of your inner eye:
- less appetite,
- declining sleep quality,
- increasing fatigue,
- decreased desire to exercise.
Such a situation is a good opportunity to think about the cause of this change.
What can you change in your everyday life so that your feelings change?
In some cases, the solution is obvious. Sometimes an adjustment of the training plan creates the necessary scope for recovery.
Here are some ideas for actions that can make room for more recovery:
- a few days’ break from training
- Insert a “deload” week in strength training,
- take a few extra yoga lessons
- eat more calories
- pay attention to a balanced diet with lots of vegetables,
- if necessary, add micronutrients,
- once a week for a massage,
- schedule more sleep (possibly short naps during the day),
- if necessary, seek help for emotional stressors.
It is best to start with the changes that are easiest for you.
2 – Acquisition of objective body signals
In addition to the subjective measurements in the last section, it helps if you also measure two objective body signals:
- resting heart rate
- heart rate variability
That’s how it’s done.
This is how you determine your resting heart rate.
Right, a fitness tracker or an Apple Watch with a heart rate measurement function works because they automatically record your heart rate several times an hour.
But even without additional equipment, you can easily determine your resting heart rate.
As soon as you wake up, measure your pulse on your wrist for 15 seconds and multiply the value by four.
The result is your resting heart rate in beats per minute, which you note down daily (see Table 2).
If the morning resting pulse rises, this indicates a lack of rest or increasing stress.
If the resting heart rate constantly increases for two weeks, you can change something.
The task now is to eliminate potential stressors and focus on improved regeneration.
How to measure your heart rate variability (HRV)
Heart rate variability – HRV for short (“Heart Rate Variability”) – is your body’s ability to change heart rate spontaneously and quickly adapt it to a load if necessary.
This variability of the pulse can be measured.
Not everything that measures the pulse is suitable for this. Many activity trackers and sports watches are too imprecise for this.
Specific pulse belts and some trackers are suitable.
For this, I use the whoop bracelet, which is specialized in measuring recovery and also uses HRV measurement:
If you already have a Bluetooth heart rate monitor like the Polar H10, connect it to your smartphone and use a suitable app for evaluation.
I have been working with the H10 and the iOS app Elite HRV for a long time.
The Apple Watch also automatically carries out regular HRV measurements in the background.
Apple does not advertise this separately, but you can query the data via the health app (“All health data” → “Heart rate variability”).
What your HRV value says about your muscle recovery
When you’re under stress, your heart beats like a metronome. When you are fit and rested, your heartbeat varies by several milliseconds.
But, the following applies:
- lower HRV indicates a lack of regeneration,
- higher HRV means higher resilience.
However, it would be pointless if you and I compared our values with each other – according to the motto: “Whoever has the higher value is more resilient!”
Just as the maximum pulse is individual, there is also an individual “baseline” for heart rate variability.
You can only conclude your current resilience once this baseline has been set.
This is usually done as follows:
- First, your HRV is measured in the morning after waking up for a few days in a row to determine what range your HRV is usually in. This range is assumed to be your normal range (baseline).
- If a value deviates significantly downwards for several days, this indicates a lack of recovery.
- An increased HRV for several days would signify that you can intensify the training.
Fortunately, you don’t have to do these statistical calculations yourself. You can delegate them to an app.
If you work with a heart rate monitor, you should measure in the morning immediately after waking up – preferably before getting up.
It is easier with a special tracker that does this automatically.
I use the Whoop band to measure HRV.
The practical thing is that you don’t have to worry about the measurement as long as you wear the bracelet continuously (the battery is charged once every 5 days. Without that, you must remove the bracelet).
How much do HRV trackers cost?
The Whoop bracelet is the cheapest to buy because it is a membership.
The manufacturer typically charges 25 euros per month, freeing the bracelet. (it is a German company)
The Oura ring ( from 314 euros ), which I tested for a few months in the summer alongside the whoop band, offers similar functions.
The results correspond to those of the whoop band.
However, I stuck with the Whoop because it makes strength training easy (you have to remove the ring), and the data can be recorded seamlessly.
Other alternatives for HRV measurement are the Polar H10 pulse belt with the EliteHRV app or the Apple Watch.
Using Table 2, you can also enter your HRV value to identify trends and deviations.
Note: HRV measurement is helpful but not a “must”. If the investment is too high for you (at least $80-$100 for the heart rate monitor, $400-$500 for an Apple Watch, from 16 euros/month for Whoop), you can do without it with a clear conscience and work with the five other values.
Muscle regeneration – Conclusion
If you find the balance between training and recovery in sport, you will not only be rewarded with faster success in training. You can benefit from it in all areas of life.
How do you find this balance? The good news:
Muscle regeneration is measurable.
You can measure whether you allow yourself enough rest based on various factors.
In this article, you got to know four subjective and two objective measures of your recovery:
- Sleep quality
- Urge to move
- Resting heart rate
- Heart rate variability (optional)
Except for the last one, you can record and follow them without tools and with little time.
In the following cases, you should take a look at your lifestyle – and ensure more balance:
- At least two subjective signals (1-4) deteriorate simultaneously.
- Your resting heart rate (5) is permanently increased.
- Your heart rate variability (6) in the morning after waking up is below your normal for several days.
Conversely, this means: If none of these three red lights come on in front of your inner eye, your body is ready for new heroic deeds.
Have fun training – and with muscle regeneration!