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There are a lot of aspects to learn when starting down the path of fitness.
How do I exercise properly?
What muscles should I workout together?
Should I eat before a workout if I want to lose weight?
One of the more confusing questions is whether or not you should work out every day.
The answer, sadly, is not clear-cut.
But there are some guidelines that can help you answer this question for your own situation.
We’ll cover those, along with some specific exercises. The answer may surprise you!
Is it Bad to Workout Everyday?
The real answer is, “It depends,” but that’s not very helpful and you’d be justified in throwing tomatoes at me if I left it at that.
The problem is that the answer depends on multiple factors. The four biggest ones are:
- Your level of fitness and health
- Which muscles you’re exercising
- How hard you push yourself
- What you do outside the gym
Before we get into those, let’s cover the pros and cons of working out every day.
- Faster results
- Easier to keep the habit
- Consistent schedule
- You can vary the workouts
- Overtraining destroys your gains
- Schedule conflicts
- Potential burnout
- Diminished results or potential injuries
- Less rest may cause fatigue outside the gym
From that list, it looks like working out every day loses to not working out daily, right?
A lot of those cons are when the factor mentioned before come into play.
I work out (almost) every day, to good results.
But I don’t do the same thing every day, I listen to my body when I start pushing myself too hard, and I lighten up when I need the energy (physically or mentally!) elsewhere.
In short, I pay attention to those factors. Let’s look at them.
Your Level of Fitness
I won’t drag this on too long. The more fit you are, the less rest you need between workout days.
Fitness doesn’t just increase your strength and muscle mass, it also teaches your body to recover faster.
When you first start a specific workout routine, such as a Push Pull Legs split, you need several days of rest between each muscle group.
But when you’re used to the movements you can knock off a rest day and work out every day.
So long as you don’t work out the same muscles every day!
Not all muscle groups recover at the same rate.
Doing bicep curls everyday will lead to overtraining, while forearms and calves can be trained everyday without as much issue.
That’s because the smaller muscle groups recover more quickly and are trained with less effort. Otherwise, writing an essay would be an exhausting workout!
Note that there are exceptions. For example, your rotator cuffs do not recover swiftly, and thinking they do can lead to debilitating injuries.
I’ll cover some specific muscles below.
The short version is: The smaller and more frequently used the muscle group, the more likely you can train it every day.
Unless you blast it into oblivion.
In, say, a Push Pull Legs split, you workout your forearms two of those days and your abs on every day.
That’s fine because they’re not the focus.
But when you focus on specific muscle, such as in this intense forearm workout, you increase the amount of recovery necessary.
Pushing harder than normal thus means you need to add a rest day.
With bigger muscles, you need to expend a good amount of effort to get results, so you always need to have at least one rest day (most of the time).
That hard push may not come from the gym, either.
Outside the Gym
I don’t only hang around in the gym or on the computer. I spent a good portion of this last summer hiking.
That in itself is a great leg workout. So I cut out a leg day, or more if I needed to.
I didn’t “workout” on those days, but because of the extra physical activity, working out every day would have led to overtraining.
It doesn’t have to be as strenuous as hiking.
Any time you use more energy outside the gym, whether it’s physical energy on a mountain or mental energy during finals, you should exercise a little less and rest a little more.
Otherwise, you’ll feel drained during all activities.
Now, let’s look at some specific exercises.
Can You Do Bench Presses Every Day?
Bench presses are a major lift. They involve lots of big muscles, pushed hard.
Unless you’re an elite athlete, don’t bench press every day.
Those muscles need to recover or you risk injuring yourself.
Can You Do Abs Every Day?
However, you can workout abs everyday.
I don’t mean that you should add 50 crunches and 50 leg raises to every workout.
However, ensure that your core is engaged. Focus on your abs and make sure that they are contracting, whether you’re bench pressing or doing pull-ups.
You’ll work them out frequently but not enough to wear them out.
Unless you blast them, of course. But focusing on your abs too much is potentially injurious, so I don’t recommend doing that anyway.
Can You Do Bicep Curls Every Day?
It’s easy to fall into the trap of curling for many reps every day.
However, it won’t do you much good.
Biceps are not the largest muscles, but they still need plenty of recovery time.
Remember, your muscles grow while you’re resting, not while working out.
Let them rest!
Slow growth is the best that you can hope for when doing bicep curls everyday. At worst, you risk damaging the tendons.
Can You Do Squats Every Day?
While calves recover quickly, the quads are some of the largest muscles in your body and demand large rest times accordingly.
I can feel a good leg day much longer than any other workout day.
Don’t skip leg day, but don’t make everyday leg day, either.
What About Cardio?
Cardio is very dependent on how hard you push yourself.
Some people like to go for a run at the crack of dawn. Other people like to relax after a day of work with some swimming.
They do it every day and reap benefits to their heart and body composition.
However, marathon running is definitely something that should not be done every day.
In fact, constant high-level cardio can cause problems for your heart!
What Exercises Can You Do Every Day?
Basically, if you aren’t pushing the muscle too hard and it recovers quickly, you can exercise it every day.
Cardio is an excellent example. Running, swimming, or just walking everyday is good for you.
Abs, calves, forearms, and other small muscles worked out while focusing on other muscles can also be worked out every day.
But the bigger exercises, such as squats, bicep curls, and bench presses, or any type of HIIT, aren’t good for every day.
If you cut back on the effort enough to do them every day safely, they won’t get hit hard enough for you to see good results.
If you are smart about recovery, you may be able to occasionally skip rest days and work out more often.
Proper hydration and nutrition can help. As can supplements such as branch-chained amino acids.
The takeaway from this article is that you should workout everyday, but you should not workout the same way every day.
Hit major muscle groups, such as your lats, then let them rest on the following day.
But don’t do nothing on that day, do something else. Even if it’s just going for a long walk!