Healthy Living YMCA Health and Fitness

Why you shouldn’t go to the gym every day

There are countless myths about exercise and muscle-building, but one of the most popular is “more is better.” We’re told we’ll accomplish our goals faster if we just work out more often, and that strength and muscle tone come with more frequent weight-lifting.

The truth is, attaining the best results requires some planning.

When you lift weights or perform any other type of strengthening exercises, you literally break your muscles down. Over the 24 – 48 hours following your workout, your body struggles to rebuild those muscles, resulting in their improved strength, endurance, and tone. You’ve probably felt this happening, in the form of soreness and tightness the day after a good workout. But if you hit the gym for a second time the next day, you interrupt the process, rerouting the energy your body is trying to use to re-build your muscles to yet another workout.

So, strength training every day can lead to two negative outcomes:

First, you may actually stunt your own progress. Even already strong muscles can only take so much before they become unable to repair themselves. And without the repairs, you won’t enjoy gains in strength or size. Second, you could suffer an injury, since you’re denying your muscles the opportunity to repair themselves.

Thankfully, these negative results are only tied to strength training. By contrast, doing more cardio will up your endurance and energy levels. So if you’re really eager to get in a workout the day after a weight-lifting session, opt for a jog, swim, or bike ride.

How much is enough?

Every body is different, so your strength training schedule will vary depending on your physique, diet, and personal fitness goals. That said, every body also requires a recovery period. Very few people will see results from daily strength training. If you’re a beginner looking to build strength and endurance, two sessions a week should cut it. For those looking to develop more noticeable muscle mass, try strength training every second or third day.

Interested in learning more? To get a customized plan tailored to your individual needs, consult with a YMCA personal trainer. They can help you develop and stick to a workout routine that will yield the results you’re looking for.