Fit woman with fatigue and tired and resting in the squat rack

How To Ruin Your Monday

As far as I can tell, in gyms all over the world, Monday remains the unofficial international bench press day. 

Where the first and freshest day of the week (for young males at least) is usually enthusiastically dedicated to working on those mirror muscles also known as man's other best friend, the pectoralis major. 

Or the chesticles in some circles. 

Well, perhaps there's another reason squat racks across the globe fall silent on a Monday…

And that is, that squats are hard.

I mean, have you ever started your week off with a hard leg day? It can ruin you. 

Especially if you've got another 4 or 5 days of lifting to look forward to. The last thing you want to do is fry yourself early on and ruin what could have been a productive week of lifting by accumulating too much fatigue. 

Continued: Squats, Muscle Damage, and Recovery

Fortunately for us, researchers have given us a more informed theoretical basis to cloak our vanity with. 

The team looked at the recovery curve from peripheral and central nervous system (CNS) fatigue after a high volume squat workout using 3 groups: 

  • Trained young males 
  • Trained middle-aged males 
  • Untrained middle-aged males

After a lift, it can sometimes take several days to recover from the resulting muscle damage. This is due to CNS fatigue, peripheral fatigue and muscle damage. The rate of recovery from each of these fatigue types still remains unknown. However, we do know that recovery rates in untrained or new lifters are much slower than they are for seasoned lifters because of the repeated bout effect. Which we'll dive into another time.

Related: When Best to Fail

Participants did a squat session consisting of 10 sets of 10 repetitions at 60% of 1RM, resting 2 minutes between sets. Fatigue markers were taken prior and after the workout at 24 and 72 hours to gauge the rate of recovery. 

After what many of us would consider a high volume squat session, both trained and untrained participants showed signs of CNS fatigue that lasted at least 72 hours afterwards. Compared to trained subjects of a similar age, untrained subjects displayed some signs of greater muscle soreness and damage, though strength recovery was largely the same. Middle-aged trained males took longer to recover strength than younger trained males. 

We'll go over more a few of the finer details on Wednesday, but for now here are some closing suggestions:

1. High volume, muscle-damaging workouts produce a lot of fatigue.
2. Twice weekly is likely enough, with at least 3 days separating them. 
3. During high volume phases on a 4-6 day plan, I typically program lower body sessions on Tuesday and Friday or Wednesday and Saturday with the day after as a rest day.  
4. Typically, not always. I have some clients at the moment squatting they're hearts out on a Monday 🙂 

And with that, have a happy International Bench Press Day! 

Continue to part 2 here: Squats, Muscle Damage, and Recovery


  1. Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage and Recovery in Young and Middle-Aged Males with Different Resistance Training Experience. Fernandes, et al. 2019 

About Danny James

Danny James is a Strength and Conditioning Coach and Personal Trainer in Sydney, Australia with over 15 years of experience supporting national champions and international representatives to reach higher levels of performance and well-being in multiple sports. He lives with his beautiful wife and twins. Sign up for Danny's free newsletter and receive tips, insights, and exclusive email-only content.


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