Focus On Recovery Time To Keep Fit As You Age

by | Jul 8, 2024 | Articles, Body, Fitness, Personal Growth, Self Care, Workouts


“How much does age affect my workouts?” The answer is a little more complex than many want to admit.

Physical training, like many things, will change as we get older. There is no sugar coating it. Once we hit our 30’s and that “check engine light” comes on, we have to learn how to navigate the challenges of getting older. This does not have to be a bad thing if you understand the changes and how to adjust.

The exact age at which recovery begins to slow is dependent on so many factors, but no matter when it happens, you’ll recognize it. Remember when you could drink with your friends all night and wake up feeling a little thirsty? You definitely realized that wasn’t happening anymore, huh?

group of four friends working out

The same happens with exercise. For example, when I was 24 years old, I could recover from an intense leg training session in about 48 hours. Now? More like 3-4 days. It was gradual but I was able to recognize it and change my training accordingly. Now is the perfect time to say that this article is meant to get you to pay attention to your body and perhaps to get you to look into proper programming. This is NOT meant to take the place of any medical advice, as fitness is far too individual to speak in absolutes. When in doubt, please check with a medical professional.


What I have noticed in my clients is that their recovery starts to slow long before their strength. What does that mean? It means they can still push themselves, but some things need to change. The intensity, volume, and/or frequency will have to be reduced. 

Let’s say you used to do three days of intense training for a particular muscle group per week. You begin to notice the muscles might still be a bit sore by the following session. To adjust, you can:

  • reduce the intensity
  • lower the volume
  • or reduce frequency 

by training that muscle two days per week instead of three.

I always recommend waiting at LEAST 48 hours in between training the same muscles. A safer bet would be to wait 72 hours, especially if your intensity is very high. Experiment to see what works for you.


Another thing to briefly discuss is transitioning from one type of exercise to another. Just because you are able to recover quickly from one activity does not mean you will be able to recover quickly from another. A perfect example is a runner who decides to start weight training. Your body may be used to running but that first intense leg day may have you rethinking a few things while your body adapts to the new training.

three women running outside

Remember that we face transitions in fitness all the time. It may be in the form of a new program, a new movement, working around an injury, or even a new style of training. Age can definitely play a factor in how we train. And to the younger folks reading this, remember what I’ve said. Getting older is inevitable; becoming sedentary is not.


Toby Ralph is a military spouse, father, and physical health advocate. As a personal trainer and natural bodybuilding coach, his focus is improving mental wellbeing through physical fitness. Gaining control over your mental and physical health is key to successfully navigating the stressors you face daily. His story was the cover article for Military Families Magazine in December 2022. 

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