Featured in: Fitness & Weight Management  |  July 6, 2020

Timing Your Workouts

By T.J. Colquitt

While working out regularly has amazing physical benefits, there can be such a thing as too much exercise. Depending on the type of physical activities you’re performing, working out every day can sometimes be more harmful than beneficial.

There are a number of reasons why working out every day may not be a good idea and several reasons why you might incorporate daily physical activity into your routine. We’ll cover all instances and give you some factors that could weigh in on your decision to hit the gym every day.

How Often Should You Workout?

There isn’t exactly a one-size-fits-all answer to whether you should be working out every day, although, many physicians agree that overworking your muscles can lead to muscle injury and sometimes overtraining syndrome (OTS). OTS can aggravate certain muscle groups and even give you mood swings.

Depending on what kind of workouts you’re doing every day, you might want to slow down your intensity or schedule two to three days per week when you don’t hit the gym. In instances when you only partake in low-intensity physical activities, like walking for 15 to 30 minutes a day, everyday frequency can be a good thing.

Recovery and Planning

One important reason to avoid daily intense workouts is that your muscles need a day or two to rest to prevent injury. Working out every day, especially with high-intensity exercises like strength training, can rob you of the recovery days your body needs to adjust and regenerate.

During a HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workout, for example, you put your body through periods of high-intensity and low-intensity activity. There are several reported health benefits from this type of fitness routine, but if you don’t schedule recovery days for rest, you can risk damaging not only muscles but also tendons, ligaments and joints.

These recovery days are also important for encouraging muscle growth, as your body goes through a period of tissue regeneration when you rest. Working out too many days in a row interrupts this process, which then has to start over.

Recovery days are also the best times for planning your weekly routines and reviewing and setting your fitness goals. If you’re just starting to develop a fitness routine, this simple template can help you build your own routine:

  • Monday: 30 minutes of cardio like jogging, walking, biking or jumping rope.
  • Tuesday: Upper-body weight training; bicep curls, three sets of 10 reps each, shoulder presses, three sets of eight reps. 20 minutes of cardio.
  • Wednesday:
  • Thursday: Lower-body weight training; weighted squats, two sets of 12 reps. 30 minutes of cardio.
  • Friday: 20 minutes of cardio and flexibility training like muscle stretches or yoga.
  • Saturday:
  • Sunday: 30 minutes of cardio.

This is just a sample of what you can do to create your own workout routine ;, there are many more types of workout schedules you can use as a foundation. Whether your goal is to lose weight, build up a specific muscle group or simply develop a structured physical routine, your weekly schedule should reflect your personal fitness journey.

Pros and Cons of Working Out Every Day

There are several advantages to think about when developing a daily fitness routine, including:

  • Incorporate movement every day: With daily exercise, you’re incorporating regular movement, which can lead to overall health and well-being. However, if you incorporate some form of exercise as a daily routine, make sure you’re providing enough time in between your activities for your body to recover.
  • Avoid plateaus with mixed workouts: If you incorporate fitness routines that change up the activity or exercise that you do, you’re more likely to avoid hitting that dreaded fitness plateau. If you repeat the same exercises at the same intensity, you’re less likely to see results.
  • Create healthy habits: Physical activity in some form can help you build healthier habits and develop your self-discipline to follow through with your plans. As you build healthier routines and keep making progress, you’ll be more likely to achieve your fitness goals.

There are several drawbacks to working out every day, though some can be more serious than others. Consider the following disadvantages of working your body every day, and some alternatives to help you avoid injury :

  • Prohibit muscle recovery: Working out every day takes away from important physiological processes that your body must go through to build and maintain muscle. With intense training on a daily basis, you can actually slow down muscle growth or seriously harm these systems. With proper recovery days, you can support this process and get better fitness results.
  • More frequent muscle soreness: You might experience more frequent muscle soreness or pain. If you start feeling joint pain or have frequent muscle soreness, you should consider scheduling rest days more regularly.
  • Hit a fitness plateau: If you constantly do the same workout routines every day without switching it up, you can hit a plateau where you stop seeing active results from your workouts. Avoid this plateau by transitioning between exercises and fitness types, like low-intensity cardio and high-intensity intervals. Stagger your rest days from week to week so you have time for recovery while keeping your routine interesting.

Essentially, the benefits you get from your fitness routine ultimately depend on your overall goals along with how you’re approaching overall fitness.

Nutrition and Recovery

Depending on the types of workouts you’re putting your body through, you’ll need the right amount of nutrients to support your muscle growth. Optimum nutrition is critical to optimum health, and if you’re doing HIIT routines or other high-intensity training, you need to replenish the nutrients that your muscles and other systems rely on to perform. Consider the following nutritional recommendations to incorporate plenty of vitamins, minerals, and proteins in your fitness diet before and after your workouts.

  • Aim for healthy carbs like whole grains, fruits and veggies, and yogurt to power up before your workout, and aim to eat at least an hour before you hit the gym. Avoid high-protein foods and saturated fats, as these digest more slowly and can cause sluggishness.
  • If your workouts run longer than an hour, you should aim to consume between 50 and 100 calories during your sessions. Go for quick snacks like a banana or raisins.
  • After your workouts, help your body enter recovery with healthy carbs like fruit and leafy green veggies. Proteins are perfect for after workouts, and you should incorporate plenty of healthy proteins like fish, peanut and nut butters, and olive oil.

Remember to drink plenty of water, since your body absorbs it quickly during workouts. A good rule of thumb to follow is to drink an average of six to eight glasses of water every day.

Essentially, how often you choose to work out depends on your unique situation, though if you’re doing intense training, you should try scheduling in recovery days when you can rest and let your muscles rebuild. Overall, this can lead to more success in the long run.

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