Some people say they’ve been working out every day for years and haven’t experienced any side effects, while others say you absolutely need to give your body a 48 hours of rest, to prevent injury and because it is when your body recovers from the workout and actually builds muscle.
So the workout regimen is a question that is continuously open even for the experienced bodybuilders: if for lifestyle reasons or for the want of squeezing maximum results out of your gym sessions, laying out the the optimal workout plan can be a tricky thing and often one that takes time to strike gold.
The Answer Depends On The Intensity Of The Workout
Well, one reason for being able to train every day and not experience any side effects / injuries is a low intensity workout. As in, working out not in sessions but throughout the day, 10 minutes here, 5 minutes there , 6 minutes there… Or having a complete workout session that is low intensity weight-wise.
Such an exercise regimen (scattered), doesn’t put enough load on your muscles for them to require a lot of rest. Vice versa, if you workout vigorously and for a long period of time (30-60 minutes) in one go, you definitely should give those muscles a decent rest.
People have different bodies, so your best bet is to listen to your body; if it gives you signals that you’re putting too much strain on it–in other words overtraining (overtraining causes irritability, trouble sleeping, prolonged injury, etc… Basically renders you unable to train)–you should slow down and rest.
Scattered Low-Intensity Workouts: It Won’t Make You Big, But…
For some people the scattered low-intensity workout plan works out to be pretty effective, genetics play a role too, but exercising–if not giving you a muscular body–will undoubtedly make you look more toned / slender and improve your overall health.
Yes, it does take a few years before any noticeable changes, but it’s a perfect solution if you don’t have enough willpower to vigorously train every other day, or your busy schedule just gives you no time for that. In this case, just scatter around short-time exercises throughout the day and be sure to get results in the long run!
I’m talking from experience here, been training on occasions at home for many years and while I was not big, I was muscular enough to stand out from the average Joes-crowd. Again, genetics do play a role, but you can also train like a pro bodybuilder and still struggle getting that “ripped” look.
More Specifically On Workout Schedules
Every day (lightly)
If exercising lightly, specific muscle groups or all, no long rest is needed for your muscles to repair, it’s still a good idea to give your body 1 day rest a week as a whole, as a system. Don’t expect to see results quickly. Also, this is not the (best) way to burn fat, but to tone your muscles.
Every day (vigorously)
By training vigorously, targeted muscles are torn and need enough time to repair and grow… But you can still workout every day, as long as you target different muscle groups on each day, example: day 1 -> upper body part, day 2 -> lower body part, day 3 -> upper body part again and so on… This way you make sure each muscle group gets 48 hour of rest. Still, again, give your body as a whole 1 day of rest per week!
This way you can work out on 3 consecutive days, targeting different muscles on each, and have the rest of the week off, both for optimal muscle recovery and growth and for more free time for other things other than the gym. (Depends on your lifestyle… Say you work until late and the only “windows” to hit the gym are on the weekends.) Do NOT train EVERY day, even if you’re hitting different muscles on each workout, it is still quite a shock for the body.
Train, rest, train, rest, etc… Tackle different muscle groups on each workout. Split into a workout regimen such as ABC, meaning you have 3 different workouts targeting different muscles, making sure you allow enough rest for each.
So… It Depends; Strike A Balance
To summarize, your workout plan depends on your lifestyle and body, choose the one that works best for you and make sure to allow your body to rest, as it’s a vital part of body growth and recuperation. It’d be counterproductive if you didn’t let your muscles to heal and grow by constantly tearing them by heavy workout sessions. Another reason for rest is–of course–to prevent injury, don’t go and say I’m perfectly fit and it won’t happen to me… Think long term.
Here’s a forum discussion over at bodybuilding.com that addresses the matter of working out every day or giving your body a break — which is the better choice.
“Rest is part of the workout.”