Should you weight train every day? Fitness trainers answer the most googled questions.
If you find something you love, it’s easy to want to overdo it. That might be treating yourself to a daily takeaway flat white from the local coffee shop or ordering from the same restaurant every weekend because it’s just. so. good. It can also be true for your exercise routine – discovering a sport or training style that you’re passionate about can mean that you want to find time for it every day.
Right now, you might be more tempted than ever to train daily, too. Given the fact that gyms are still closed and our daily step counts are probably lower than pre-lockdown, you might be compensating with daily workouts in order to get your heart rate up and muscles working.
But, just as you might suddenly develop an aversion to pad thai if you have it every weekend, there can be too much of a good thing. So how do we balance our love of fitness with all important rest days?
Each week, we ask fitness trainers to answer the most googled strength training questions from women. This week, Strong Women ambassadors Alice Miller and Emma Obayuvana are here to tell us whether it’s ok to weight train every day.
Can I weight train every day?
No, it’s best not to. The average person doesn’t need to train every day, and for general health and fitness four sessions a week is absolutely fine. You can also complement those with something else that you enjoy like yoga or running. Unless you have a physically demanding sport or you’re competing in something and you have to train, you don’t need to do more.
I don’t think it’s okay to weight train every day because your body needs recovery. Sometimes, recovery is even more important than the training itself. During training, we create tears in our muscles. In order for them to rebuild and grow back stronger, we need rest, good nutrition and sleep.
What happens if I weight train every day?
You’ll burn out. If you train too much, it just doesn’t give your body enough time to recover. The body can only truly recover in that rest time, during sleep and when we’re eating and drinking enough. Our non training days are as important as our training days and without them the body’s just going to fatigue and going to really struggle with progressing. Because of that, we can also get injured.
You still need total days off if you’re working on an upper/lower split pattern, meaning your legs will rest when your upper body trains. That’s because your body won’t have time to rebuild all of the tissues that we need to grow back stronger, and it will continuously be trying to recover from a heavy day.
Everyone is different, but overtraining will lead to fatigued muscles and you won’t see the results that you actually want from your training sessions because you just haven’t had a chance to recover. This fatigue can also lead to injury. For me, overtraining means my sleep doesn’t quite follow its normal pattern and I don’t feel refreshed.
Even in a workout split, you might be giving your legs a day to recover but the body is exerting itself significantly to train the upper body muscles.
How many rest days should I take?
Take at least two rest days a week. I wouldn’t do them back to back, I’d usually break them up so you have days throughout the week to allow your body to refuel and feel good for the next session.
On a rest day, you can still do something that’s low intensity like a mobility session, yoga or a walk. But you shouldn’t be doing anything that’s intense on the body.
If you’re weight training four times a week, you can have three rest days. Some can be an active rest, for example you might play tennis or swim, so you’re resting from the activity of weight training but still moving. It’s also important to have at least one day of complete rest, where you do nothing other than walk.
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Images: Getty / Benjamin Youd