Should I Work Out Every Day?

Why is the question of whether it’s good or bad to workout every day even an issue? Isn’t working out good, and if so, isn’t more better?

The issue boils down to over training. over training results in fatigue, burnout and possibly injury. If you over train and burn out, you can be sidelined for weeks or months (depending on the degree of burnout).

So, yes, the question is an important one, but the answer isn’t cut and dry.

The answer to whether you should work out every day depends on your workout regimen.

For example, if you primarily walk, doing so every day won’t result in over training. If you walk for 45 minutes, doing so every day won’t be detrimental. In fact, it’s good.

If you do gentle yoga for 30 minutes a day, that too won’t result in burnout.

However, if you do monster 1.5 hour weight lifting and cardio routines that are intense, doing so 7 days a week is not good. Sure, you can do it for brief periods of time if you’re gearing up for a race or competition … but even then you risk burnout and/or diminished performance when D-day arrives.

Rest is part of the workout equation.

This is tough for some people to swallow. It was for me when I started weight lifting. I achieved gains and wanted to achieve more gains faster. I believed faster gains would be attained by working out 7 days per week. Fortunately, I had a trainer who I listened to who strongly urged me to take 1 to 2 days off each week.

Muscles build, repair and rebound during rest

Yup, it’s during rest that muscles (including heart muscle) repairs, builds and rebounds from intense workouts. Therefore, if you accept this, rest makes sense.

Can you do mild or gentle activity on days off?

Yes, unless your regimen is so intense you can’t. Walking, sport, recreation, gentle yoga … these are great activities on days off. In fact, it’s great to incorporate “play” into a workout regimen.

For example, my wife and I are big walkers. We walk almost every day. Our walks are 45 to 60 minutes. We don’t powerwalk. We just walk. Sometimes we drive to a trail and walk; other times we step outside our home.

Is activity on rest days required?

No. If you stick to your workout regimen, there’s not really an onus to be active on your rest days. It’s really up to you. The activity should be fun, different and low intensity.

Planning and designing workouts should include rest days

Therefore, whether you create your own workouts or use workouts suggested by other people, be sure there are rest days incorporated into the regimen each week. The last thing you want to do is over train or get injured. If that occurs, you’ll be sidelined for a lot longer than just a few rest days.

How many rest days should you have in a week?

The number of rest days depends on many factors, such as:

Your actual workout regimen (i.e. are you following a prescribed workout plan/routine)?

The intensity/duration of your workout sessions.

Your level of fitness.

Your fitness goals (i.e. are you training for a marathon, the Olympics, bodybuilding competition, or just want to get more fit)? If you’re a professional athlete, you’ll probably ramp up training for a period of time before the event … but even pros take rest, especially before the big event.

Your level of motivation (is 2 days of working out good enough for you, or are you a keener with big fitness goals)?

What about sticking to a diet on rest days?

For me, diet should be viewed as part of a healthy living package. My rest days are generally weekends during which I eat out or eat take out which is a healthy eating detour. That said, my healthy eating plan isn’t one where I feel deprived. I don’t starve myself. I generally eat what I like … but fortunately after years of a fit lifestyle, I enjoy eat healthy foods (for the most part).

That said, if you’re losing weight and are giving up a lot of foods you normally like, having some of the forbidden foods once a week isn’t going to kill you. In fact, it may be good so that you don’t build up a vast hunger for those foods like a pressure cooker to the point where you end up on a binge. However, keep your diet detours within reason. Binging all weekend isn’t going to do much for your diet either.

I tend to view my healthy eating plan from a bird’s eye view, which means I look at the week in aggregate instead meal-by-meal. Sometimes I cut back on caloric intake while other times I increase caloric intake (to build muscle mass). And then other times I follow a maintenance plan. Regardless which eating approach I’m on, I follow it on a week-by-week basis. This way if/when I veer, it’s not really a big deal because it’s a blip within a longer period of time.

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