Today I’d like to discuss a question that I see asked fairly often via various online forums:
“Can You Work Out Every Day?”
The immediate answer that you’re greeted with is typically NO, but in truth I don’t 100% agree with this.
Okay, there are some very good reasons why you shouldn’t be working out every single day, and I’ll definitely talk about these.
However, there is a way around the “issues and problems” that you are told that you will face by exercising every day.
In fact, I know myself that I have often gone 8, 9, 10 or even more months without missing a day of exercise.
I haven’t suffered any of the negative side-effects that you’ll generally hear about, plus my workouts, gains, and body composition goals haven’t plateaued in any particular way.
Can You Work Out Every Day?
What Everyone Tells You About Working Out Every Day?
It doesn’t matter who are, someone who enjoys running occasionally, a newbie in the gym, a hardcore meathead who loves to train, or a professional athlete – we all have a specific goal whenever we train.
This could be to lose weight, burn body fat, get stronger, build muscles, or to enhance your physical performance.
However, in the main, working out every single day doesn’t automatically mean that you’ll achieve better results.
In fact, there is a vast amount of evidence which says that you should give your body time to recover.
You may even find that taking the occasional day off will actually improve your overall performance and the achievement of your body composition goals.
Just to be slightly contradictory to one of my original statements, in the main, I agree with this.
So, let’s look at why it’s good to take a rest day.
The Advantages of NOT Working Out Every Day
Your Muscle Fibres Repair
When you’re training in the correct manner you put your muscles under stress.
The stress that you place upon your muscle fibres will typically cause some damage.
However, as you will often hear, the “real work” is done when you rest, and especially while you’re asleep.
When you rest “damaged” muscle fibres after putting them under stress, they will naturally repair and rebuild muscle tissue which actually helps your muscles become bigger and stronger.
Additionally, there are certain stages of deep sleep when the body releases the Human Growth Hormone, which helps this “rebuilding” process.
This is also why it’s extremely important to ensure you are sleeping properly if you want to achieve your body goals.
You Replenish Your Energy Stores
In order to stimulate muscle contractions, let’s say during weight training for example, your body will use adenosine triphosphate (ATP) as a source of energy.
The best source of ATP for the body to use is muscle glycogen.
However, stores of muscle glycogen are somewhat limited, and therefore they will need to be replenished before you train again.
If you choose to workout without the glycogen being replenished you’ll usually notice that your performance suffers dramatically.
Furthermore, your muscles will actually be used as a source of energy and start to break down, but not in the “good way” mentioned above.
You Can Help to Mitigate Muscle Soreness
I’m sure I’m not the only one to experience “DOMS”, or to give it it’s proper name, delayed-onset muscle soreness.
This is generally when you feel muscle soreness following a workout and can last anywhere from 24-72 hours.
This “soreness” may cause mild discomfort, or in some cases it can even be quite debilitating.
I know after a particularly intense leg day I often find I have difficulties in performing basic daily tasks because of my extremely sore legs.
This is actually caused by the microscopic tears in the muscle fibres, which as we now know will repair themselves when we rest.
DOMS will automatically iron themselves out, but they’re a sure sign that you need to rest a particular muscle group.
You Avoid Overtraining
There is a risk of overtraining if you choose to work out every day, and once again, it’s definitely something I have experienced.
For me, I was totally exhausted, not sleeping well, I felt fatigued and irritable during the day, plus my workouts were also suffering.
I will say that it takes a LOT to overtrain, and you may even experience any of the above symptoms simply because of bad diet and nutrition, or poor sleeping habits.
However, another reason you shouldn’t work out every day is due to overtraining.
How I Work Out “Every Day” & Get Away With it
I think anybody who asks the question, “Can You Work Out Every Day?” is probably more focused on performing the same types of workouts, at the same intensity, on a daily basis.
And this is something that no-one should be doing.
This is also the very reason I have included the list of advantages above of NOT working out every day.
As you can quite clearly see, working out in this manner is probably going to do you more harm than good.
However, I am someone who typically works out to hit all training protocols on a weekly basis.
By this, I mean I am not overly concentrated on just one form of training.
My Different Training Routines
I will usually perform strength training, hypertrophy training, and conditioning work every single week.
So, you will never normally see me performing body-part workouts that seem to be the scourge of most gyms.
Therefore, on a strength training day I will concentrate on some (or even all) of what I consider the “Big Lifts”, namely the Squat, Deadlift, Bench Press, Bent-Over Row, and Overhead Press.
Depending on how I feel the following day, I might do some conditioning work, which may involve skipping (jump rope), rowing intervals, kettlebell swings, burpees, or a variety of other bodyweight exercises.
If I’m really feeling the DOMS then I may turn this into a core workout day, mixed in with some stretching and foam rolling.
So, as you can see, I’m still “working out”, but just not to the same intensity, and definitely by using different exercises and a different training protocol.
Even on my “rest days” I will perform “active rest”, so essentially my body is still moving, but yet again not with the same intensity.
In fact, at least once (if not twice) a week, I do nothing more than go for a walk (although I do tend to walk most days anyway).
However, I still walk at a brisk pace, and usually cover 5-6 miles.
Now this may be considered a complete workout for some people, depending on your current strength and fitness levels, but for me, this is “active rest”.
Yes You Can Work Out Every Day
And this is the point I’m trying to make about working out every day.
I definitely think it’s possible, but I like a great deal of variety in my workouts, and I think it is this that allows me to be active every single day of the week.
Don’t get me wrong, I have gone extended periods at times when I have been performing fairly intense workouts.
However, going back to the list above, I can certainly feel my performance dropping, aches and pains, or general fatigue and tiredness whenever I do this.
I even went through a period last year when I was definitely overtraining, as I was working out at a very intense level 6 or 7 days a week.
Weirdly enough, my strength didn’t seem to suffer, but I leaned out completely and dropped around 8lbs in weight.
I have no idea what my body fat percentage would have been, but let’s just say it was definitely in the single digits.
This is also the time that I suffered with many of the symptoms I mentioned earlier.
So, yes I agree you can work out every day, but you need to be sensible about how you’re going to do this.
I frequently set myself challenges over a period of 30 days.
My reasons for doing this are because I want to see just what my body is capable of, plus this serves as a fantastic mental challenge as well.
So, this will involve working out every day, but for 30 days, and not on a permanent basis.
I will typically take a good 4-5 days off ALL training afterwards, and complete rest (okay, I may still go for a walk during these days, but nothing more).
My Kettlebell 30-Day Challenge
I’ve quite recently undertaken a 30-day challenge and this involved performing a full-body single kettlebell workout.
It just so happened that we were in lockdown in the UK (for the second time) at the time, and it was expected to last for around 4 weeks.
My focus was mainly on kettlebell swings, basically my take on Dan John’s 10,000 kettlebell swing challenge (which I have completed numerous times before anyway).
However, I also included goblet squats, rows, overhead presses, and push ups.
My Burpee 30-Day Challenge
Funnily enough, during the first lockdown back in March 2020, I decided to perform 100 burpees a day.
However, these were in addition to my normal at-home workouts that I was typically doing 5 days a week.
So, even on my two rest days a week I would still ensure that I performed 100 burpees.
I actually had the ridiculous notion to perform 500 burpees as a single workout at least once a week as well.
I know many of you probably have a love/hate relationship with burpees, and I’m no different, so you can imagine how this made me feel.
I actually managed to go 40 days straight of performing at least 100 burpees a day.
Once again I leaned down a lot due to the types of workouts I was doing, and not having access to heavy weights.
I’m no stranger to the Crossfit Murph Workout, but I’m going to be honest and say that I have never attempted to do it 30 days in a row.
I mean that would absolutely suck.
Just in case you weren’t aware, the Murph consists of:
- 1 mile run
- 100 pull ups
- 200 push ups
- 300 bodyweight squats
- 1 mile run
So, by completing this workout for 30 days in a row you will have completed:
- 60 miles of running
- 3,000 pull ups
- 6,000 push ups
- 9,000 bodyweight squats
Not only is your body going to feel pretty beat up by the end, this is going to take a HUGE amount of mental discipline.
However, I’m pretty sure there’s going to be some pretty drastic changes to your body.
I may not have been brave (stupid) enough to complete the murph for 30 days in a row, but plenty of people have.
Travis Jefferies Does 30 Murph Workouts in 30 Days
So, in answer to the question, “Can You Work Out Every Day?” The answer from me is a resounding yes.
However, you should not be performing the same types of workouts, with the same intensity, for an extended period of time.
I see nothing wrong with performing 30-day challenges, which will test you both physically and mentally.
But, any longer than this you run the risk of injury, overtraining, reduced performance levels, etc.
With that said, there is no real problem with working out every day if you “mix-it-up” a little.
You don’t need to be “killing it” every single day of the week.
Plus active rest is a big thing.
I love to walk, stretch, and do some core work (not all at the same time you understand) on my active rest days.
You may even want to throw some foam rolling, yoga, or Pilates into the mix as well.
To me, “workout out every day” simply means being active on a daily basis.
At the time of writing, we’ve actually entered a third lockdown in some parts of the UK, so no gym for me at the moment.
So, I’ve decided to follow a simple 21-minute daily workout program for 6 days a week (so, I am getting one day’s rest a week).
I purchased the program back in September 2020 and have found it to be a fantastic asset.
Plus, I would say there are some great workouts, whether you’re a complete novice or an advanced trainee.
So please take this opportunity to check out my review of the Bodyweight Burn Program.
Hi, I’m Partha, the founder of My Bodyweight Exercises. I’m someone who’s been passionate about exercise and nutrition for more years than I care to remember. I’ve studied, researched, and honed my skills for a number of decades now. So, I’ve created this website to hopefully share my knowledge with you. Whether your goal is to lose weight, burn fat, get fitter, or build muscle and strength, I’ve got you covered.