Everyone knows someone who works out every day. Their objective? To get results as quickly as possible. Is that person you?
Have you been told that you overdo it? That too much working out is not good for your body, that you’re going to burn out and hurt yourself?
But is it really good for your body to exercise EVERY day? When does it become too much? Is it counterproductive, and why?
Should you work out every day?
Well, it depends. There are several possibilities.
If you’re simply looking to stay in shape, whether by walking, stretching, jogging, or doing bodyweight exercises, gentle aerobics, or a little swimming, then sure, go ahead and work out every day. Fact: The WHO recommends 10,000 steps or 20 minutes of physical activity per day.
On the other hand, if you’re a runner or do cross-training or any other sport whose goal is increased performance, weight loss, or muscle gain, then you’ll want to take days off to avoid overdoing it and to give your body time to rest. By doing so, you’ll also reduce the risk of injury (among other things).
See also: “What is bigorexia?”
The benefits of days off
After a workout, your body needs time to rest before it can exert itself again.
Some sports require lots of energy and can be extremely hard on your body, such as running, cross-training, and weight training.
When you lift weights (for example), your muscle fibers suffer from microtears, which is why you feel sore after an intense workout.
In order for these fibers to heal, you have to give your body some rest. When your body is resting, the torn fibers regenerate and your muscles become stronger. If you fail to rest, your next workout will be totally counterproductive as you’ll re-tear the muscle fibers before they have a chance to heal, thereby increasing the risk of injury and preventing muscle growth.
How often should you train?
In general, three times per week (one hour per workout) is a good rate, even if the real key to progress is to work out regularly over the long term.
Of course, this also depends on the type of sport. Ideally, you should incorporate a cardio activity, a muscle-strengthening activity, and an activity that relaxes your mind and body.
Unless you’re a high-performance athlete, three or four workouts per week is sufficient. Beyond that, be careful and listen to your body. For weight training, it’s important that you vary the muscle groups to give them time to rest.
If you’re a runner, then 4-6 runs (or even 7) per week is OK. Nevertheless, your runs should be short and done at a slow or moderate pace.
It’s better to run for 10 minutes every day than to run for an hour once a week, as the latter can cause major mechanical stress on your body which leads to a much higher risk of injury.
Think you might be addicted to working out?
If you still can’t imagine a day without the gym, try to mix things up by engaging in activities that are gentler on your body, such as swimming, walking, yoga, or Pilates.
See our article on sports addiction.
Fitness Coach, the perfect workout app
In search of workout tips and/or a personalized workout? If so, then download the Fitness coach app. You’ll find a wide range of exercises that you can do at home according to your fitness goals and level. Every workout is outlined by a trainer, who carefully explains each exercise.