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How long should you rest after leg day?

Leg day is often the most challenging and intense workout during the week. It typically consists of exercises like squats, lunges, deadlifts, and calf raises that target the major muscles of the lower body. While it’s important to work the lower body to build strength and muscle mass, it’s equally important to allow enough time for recovery after an intense leg session.

How long does it take for your legs to recover after leg day?

The time needed for your legs to recover after leg day depends on several factors:

  • The intensity and volume of your workout
  • The types of exercises performed
  • Your fitness level and training experience
  • Your nutrition and hydration before and after the workout
  • How well you usually recover from training

As a general guideline, most experts recommend taking at least 48 hours of rest between intense leg day workouts. For beginners or those new to weight training, up to 72 hours (3 days) may be needed. Here’s a more detailed look at recovery times:

24-48 hours

For moderately intense leg days using mostly compound exercises like squats, deadlifts and lunges, aim for 24-48 hours of rest. This allows time for your muscle fibers to repair themselves and grow stronger. Soreness and fatigue should subside within a couple days.

48-72 hours

After very strenuous leg days using heavy weight and a high volume of sets/reps, consider taking 2-3 full days of rest. This gives your body more time to adapt to the workout and replenish energy stores. Soreness may last up to 72 hours post-workout.

5-7 days

Only complete all-out bodybuilding style leg days no more than once per week. This type of advanced training with techniques like drop sets, supersets, and giant sets can require 5-7 days before full recovery. Give your muscles adequate time to recover before training legs again at max intensity.

Signs you may need more recovery time

Pay attention to these signs indicating your legs need more rest after a tough workout:

  • Persistent muscle soreness lasting more than 72 hours post-workout
  • Limited range of motion or flexibility in the hips, knees or ankles
  • Decreased performance on leg exercises at your next workout
  • Continued fatigue impacting daily activities
  • Inability to complete your usual number of reps or sets
  • Stiffness, cramping or discomfort when using your legs

If your legs are still feeling fatigued or sore several days after your last leg session, give them another 1-2 days of recovery. Continuing to train intensely without proper rest can lead to overtraining and potential injury.

Tips for optimal recovery after leg day

Here are some strategies to help your legs recover faster and bounce back from intense training sessions:

Cool down and stretch

Always cool down for 5-10 minutes after your leg workout with light cardio and gentle stretching to remove waste products like lactate from your muscles. Better flexibility aids recovery.

Hydrate and refuel

Drink plenty of fluids and eat a protein and carb-rich meal or snack after your workout to start the muscle repair and growth process. Good nutrition provides your muscles the building blocks they need to recover.

Use active recovery

Go for an easy walk, swim or bike ride the day after an intense leg day to pump blood and nutrients to your muscles. Just don’t do anything too strenuous.

Get a massage

Massage helps relax your muscles, increase blood flow and reduce residual soreness after leg day. You can get a professional massage or use a foam roller or massage gun yourself.

Prioritize sleep

Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night to allow your body to adapt to your training and fully recover. Getting adequate sleep is crucial.

Take a rest day

Avoid training the same muscle groups two days in a row. Schedule a full rest day after leg day to allow your lower body to completely recover before training again.

Use compression

Wearing compression socks or tights improves circulation and can reduce muscle soreness after intense leg training. They apply gentle pressure to your legs.

Sample leg workout recovery timeline

Here is an example timeline showing what your recovery may look like after a vigorous leg day:

Time After Workout Recovery Process & Symptoms
0-24 hours Replenish glycogen stores, hydrate muscles, mild soreness
24-48 hours Moderate muscle soreness peaks, inflammation subsides
48-72 hours Decreased soreness, enhanced blood flow to muscles
72-96 hours Little to no soreness remaining, regaining muscle function
96 hours + Fully recovered, ready for next leg workout

How long between leg days?

Generally, most people training their legs need at least 48 hours of rest between sessions to allow for an adequate recovery period. Here are some guidelines based on training level:


For new lifters, allow at least 72 hours between leg workouts when first starting out. Your body needs extra time to adapt to weight training.


After adapting to training, aim for 48-72 hours rest between moderate/heavy leg workouts. Listen to your body’s recovery abilities.


Very experienced lifters can train legs intensely again after 48 hours of rest. Use recovery strategies to optimize results.

All levels

Regardless of your experience level, avoid training legs 2 days in a row. And take even longer between sessions if doing an extreme high volume leg workout.

Sample weekly leg training schedule

Here is an example of how you could structure your leg workouts and recovery days over a typical 7 day training week:

Monday Rest
Tuesday Upper body workout
Wednesday Intense leg day (squats, lunges, deadlifts)
Thursday Active recovery (light cardio, stretching)
Friday Upper body workout
Saturday Rest
Sunday Moderate leg workout (lighter weights)

This allows 48-72 hours between leg sessions for sufficient recovery while still training legs twice per week.

How long should you wait to train legs again after soreness is gone?

Here are some general guidelines for when to resume leg training after muscle soreness subsides:

  • Mild soreness – 24 hours
  • Moderate soreness – 48 hours
  • Severe soreness – 72+ hours

Keep in mind that the absence of soreness does not necessarily mean your muscles have fully recovered. Use some caution when returning to leg training even if you don’t feel sore anymore. Complete a light leg workout first to see how your body responds before increasing intensity again.

Can you train legs every day?

Training legs every day is not recommended for most individuals. High frequency leg training is very taxing on the central nervous system and requires extremely strategic programming. Here are some key factors to consider:

  • Only advanced lifters should attempt training legs daily
  • Must reduce volume, intensity and exercise variations substantially
  • Cycle heavy and light days to manage fatigue
  • Closely monitor recovery with deload periods
  • High risk of overtraining if not properly periodized

For the majority of people, allowing at least 48 hours between intense leg sessions and avoiding training the same muscles two days in a row is optimal.

Should you train legs when sore?

It’s generally fine to train legs when mildly sore, as long as you adjust your workout accordingly:

  • Warm up thoroughly
  • Use lighter weights than normal
  • Perform just 1-2 working sets per exercise
  • Avoid exercise variations that aggravate soreness

Training through moderate soreness can help speed recovery in some cases. But avoid training legs when severely sore, as this indicates more recovery is needed.


While there are no hard rules for post-leg day rest and recovery, aim for 24-72 hours between intense leg workouts depending on your experience level, the workout program, and individual recovery abilities. Allow soreness to fully resolve before training legs intensely again. Optimize your rest and nutrition practices to come back stronger for your next leg day.