Recovery time after long fasted workouts

  • Creator
  • #14105

    I saw this post in response to a topic asking “Fasted workouts – how long is too long?” Scott Johnston noted that if you are doing long fasted aerobic workouts, be prepared for 2 days of recovery where you might need to go light. I’m assuming that means recovery is faster if we don’t fast.

    Can Scott (or anyone) expand on that idea a bit more in terms of how to approach our plans/expectations for subsequent workouts, particularly in that 2 day time frame and if we’re missing/going light on strength workouts due to overall tiredness?

    For example, I’m in the transition phase of my first year of structured training, following the 24-week general mountaineering plan. I’m working on fat adaptation and ADS, so I am working on doing my aerobic workouts in a fasted state. I just did a fasted 2.5 hour AeT run a few days ago. I felt fine during the run but fairly wiped during the following rest day and ended up missing my strength workout the day after following the adage of “if you feel tired, rest.” I also went light on a strength workout for a similar reason in previous weeks.

    On one hand, I am working on building the aerobic fitness and base and fat adaptation. On the other hand, I don’t want to regularly miss or go very easy on strength training sessions that will leave me unprepared for future strength training during the base period. Is there a way to think about prioritizing or shifting workouts around? If we are working on ADS should we just focus on fasted training and skip the weightroom if we’re tired from long fasted workouts?

  • Inactive
    Anonymous on #14108

    Good question. Fasted workouts can be deceptively tiring, often after-the-fact the way that you’ve described.

    I think the simplest thing to do is to back off on the duration of your fasted workouts if they’re negatively impacting other important work. Then you can gradually build them up as tolerated.

    One of the big mistakes that I made early on (and, embarrassingly, for years) was trying to optimize everything at once. As a result, I blew up several times. I’ve had much better success by dialing back my ambition for each workout and slowly moving things forward. Over the long-term, it’s been much more effective.

    Anonymous on #14112

    You might consider easing into the fasted workouts by doing shorter ones till you can handle them better before going so long. Be sure to eat a good recovery meal as soon as possible after the fasted workouts to speed recovery.


    todd.struble on #14119

    Sounds like I’m going too hard on the fasted workouts even though I’m not “bonking” or otherwise feeling depleted during the workout. I’m gathering that I shouldn’t go so hard that I’m not recovered after a rest day. Thanks for the advice!

    hafjell on #14135

    Are you sure the duration isn’t too long? In other words, are you going longer than prescribed by your training plan? If you’re sticking to AeT, another factor may be in play. IME, the transition to fasted workouts was seamless, but I stuck to the plan to the minute and I was zealous about eating immediately afterwards.

    Anonymous on #14143

    Work gradually into longer fasted workouts. If you are wrecked for 2 days after then you’re not well adapted yet and need to do more shorter fasted workouts gradually increasing the duration.


    Anonymous on #14152

    Another option is to do blended workouts in order to meet the volume requirements of your training plan. You can start aerobic sessions fasted, but take food with you. When you start feeling hungry, eat, and continue with the workout. That way, you can get some time fasted, but also keep the workout long enough to get the volume you need.

    todd.struble on #14165

    Thanks for these additional thoughts. hafjell, I was doing the duration asked for by the training plan, but skipped a few weeks of the fasted training progression, based on feeling fine during the fasted sessions and recovering fine on the shorter 1 hour fasted AeT workouts.

    I think I ran into trouble by not feeling “bonked” during the long 2+ hr workouts. The past few long workouts I took food with me per the progression advice and then just never felt the need to eat it, but then felt tired for 2 days including a full rest day.

    I appreciate the insight that the fasted training will impact our recovery time if we aren’t well adapted and we need to take that process slow. Scott Semple, thanks for the blended workout idea. Today I just decided to do my long workout with a light breakfast before. I’ll try that next week and eat after an hour and see how well I recover.

    mountain_stoke on #14583

    I have noticed that the post-workout recovery meal is pretty critical for recovering quickly enough for the next day’s workout. If I do a 4+ hour fasted training session and dont replenish glycogen stores, rehydrate with electrolyte, and have some protein, and get at least 8 or hopefully 9 hours of sleep, I’ll be ready to go again next day. The difference between carefully impementing these recovery strategies and not seems to be huge, especially when doing extra long fasted sessions.

    Anonymous on #14617


    todd.struble on #16754

    I wanted to provide an update on my experience building into the fasted longer workouts. I continued doing my shorts 1 and 2 hour workouts fasted as my base period training has increased in volume. The “blended” workout idea really helped me. I started just eating at 2:15 no matter how I felt, then tried to increase by 15 minutes or so each week. Also eating earlier if I started feeling fatigued. I’ve done my last two long 3 hr+ workouts completely fasted. A few things I noticed:

    First, I think paying attention to when I should eat in the blended workout caused me to notice when I was bonking more. I’m sure I was bonking in my earlier workouts, I just wasn’t tuned into paying attention to the signs. Focusing on how I was feeling after 2 hours, I noticed pace slowing or just feeling a bit different and I’d eat.

    Second, I also slowed down on my longer workouts, or at least I’m not going any faster as my AeT and fitness improves. I’m doing them at the same (very slow) pace I was using when starting structured training.

    Overall, looking at when I posted this thread, it’s taken me about 14 weeks to be able to take off on my long workouts without worrying about bringing a granola bar. Looking at Tips for Fasted Training that’s about right at 9+ weeks as my last few long workouts have gone well and I’ve recovered in time to feel good for the next week of training. Just needed to be patient and build into it slower.

    Anonymous on #16758

    Great job. That’s smart training. Much much better than the grind-myself-into-the-ground approach that is all too common (and that I too was all too familiar with).

    Nice work.

Viewing 11 replies - 1 through 11 (of 11 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.