How to know when you are recovered

Personal Trainer with client

I am always looking for ways to improve recovery so I can train harder and more often. Research shows the best ways to improve recovery are quality sleep for between 7-9 hours a night, proper nutrition (slight calorie surplus), and sound programming taking into consideration volume, load and intensity. 

Ok great, I have those things covered. But I know training can still beat you down, so it would be nice to have a few metrics to help determine if today should be a hard, medium or light day (it's a good idea to have these things in mind for every training session).

The most compelling evidence shows us that vertical jump, hand dynamometer and sleep have the most accurate ways of assessing readiness. A study by Haischer et al, 2019, found athletes with more sleep performed better velocities and lower RPE at their 1RM. We have also seen studies showing chronic sleep deprivation to have negative effects on performance outcomes. (Stults-Kolehmainen et al, 2014) Further, a study by Watkins et al, 2017 found that as athletes’ vertical jumps decreased from fatiguing training sessions, the total volume they were able to perform decreased, as well.

There have been some good reports involving athletes that showed decreased strength in hand dynamometer testing was strongly correlated to a low readiness to perform. Decreased strength in hand dynamometer testing is a good sign of the CNS being taxed, while velocity and jumping power are a good sign that the peripheral system is taxed. These are all good things to know when going into a session to be able to determine how it should look. You can also use readiness scales like a Likert Scale to measure athletes’ perceived recovery capabilities through a series of questions. (Laurent et al, 2011)

I personally think it is a great idea to get subjective and objective data from athletes to determine their readiness for the day. By doing so, you'll be able to pinpoint where things may be going wrong be it from sleep, stress, nutrition, etc. Or, if those things are good, then it is up to you as a coach to look at your program design. 

This constant interaction will allow you to truly optimize training for your athletes.



  1. Haischer MH, Cooke DM, Carzoli JP, Johnson TK, Shipherd AM, Zoeller RF, Whitehurst M, Zourdos MC. Impact of Cognitive Measures and Sleep on Acute Squat Strength Performance and Perceptual Responses Among Well-Trained Men and Women. Journal of strength and conditioning research. 2019 Jul.
  2. Stults-Kolehmainen MA, Bartholomew JB, Sinha R. Chronic psychological stress impairs recovery of muscular function and somatic sensations over a 96-hour period. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research. 2014 Jul 1;28(7):2007-17.
  3. Watkins, C.M., Barillas, S.R., Wong, M.A., Archer, D.C., Dobbs, I.J., Lockie, R.G., Coburn, J.W., Tran, T.T. and Brown, L.E., 2017. Determination of vertical jump as a measure of neuromuscular readiness and fatigueThe Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research31(12), pp.3305-3310.
  4. Laurent CM, Green JM, Bishop PA, Sjökvist J, Schumacker RE, Richardson MT, Curtner-Smith M. A practical approach to monitoring recovery: development of a perceived recovery status scale. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research. 2011 Mar 1;25(3):620-8.

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