Should You Work Out Every Day?
When we start going to the gym and exercising more in order to benefit our current health, we assume that when it comes to exercising that more is always better. Although I don’t like to use the popular term of overtraining since most people believe that overtraining means going to the gym 6-7x a week instead of training muscles groups too frequently in a specific time duration. Such as training your arms more than 1x within a 48-72-hour window.
I’m a strong advocate that we should exhibit some sort of exercise at least daily so working out 7 days of the week is perfectly acceptable. However, this does not mean you should be lifting weights all 7 days a week. I recommend that you take at least 1-2 days off of weight training each week simply to allow the body to transport more nutrients to your muscles while they are in a state of repair. If you work your muscles out while they are still broken down and haven’t repaired fast enough you could risk injuring the muscle.
Your muscles grow when you rest since lifting the weights only tears down the muscles fiber. When we rest the fibers can refeed and repair which allows for growth to occur. A 48-72-hour window of rest is usually ideal to allow full muscle repair and soreness to go away. The soreness we feel after a workout is due to in part of minor lactic acid while also the damage to the muscles we caused while lifting weights. When we lift weights, protein will leave the cells and our cells will become filled with fluid, such as water, and white blood cells will increase in the area for muscle repair. After a while, the muscle fibers get new cells to repair them and we are back to normal.
Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness
DOMS is the result of the build-up of lactic acid and other toxins that occur from muscular connective tissue deterioration from weight training. When we focus more on the eccentric movement of our exercises we increase the amount of stretching our fibers get which increases the level of DOMS we will experience. This is why the stretching or lengthening parts of the exercises are the most beneficial for muscular growth. Although DOMS is important for training, they do not play a large role in muscular development when compared to factors such as tension, metabolic stress and tissue damage.
The recovery phase of a workout, which takes place post workout for the next 48-72 hours, is going to be the most important part in regards to building muscle. During recovery, the body will adapt to the stress we created during our workout on the muscle fibers. This is where food/nutrients play a role in growth since the body will use nutrients it stores to repair the damaged tissues. The greater the intensity of a workout, the greater the amount of recovery time our body will need in order to repair the damaged muscle fibers. Although some people will say that overtraining is a myth, if you do not allow the body to have time to recover and repair the damaged tissue, you will begin to feel negative effects such as: becoming tired more frequently, workouts becoming much more difficult, possible depression, and even a risk of injury during a workout.
If you feel extremely sore after a workout, the best things to do is to stretch the area properly, provide the body with proper nutrients, and to even work out the damaged area using a much lighter weight and performance load compared to normal. Use of low-intensity exercise is one of the most beneficial methods of recovery we can take while still remaining active. If you are feeling too sore while even using lighter weights, take some time off of the gym altogether for your recovery period.
Take Home Message
In summary, although we may want to work out every day because we want the results to come as fast as possible. Taking a day or two off from exercise or simply weight training will allow for the body to repair the damaged muscle tissue while still enabling muscular growth within the cells. If you feel a constant soreness for days and even weeks on end, I recommend taking a longer recovery time or simply to avoid training that sore area in general.
Prolonged muscular soreness can be a sign of tissue damage, which is a full recovery is not taken, can lead to greater muscular issues such as torn ligaments and fibers. Remain hydrated, consume adequate nutrients and listen to your body. If you are in too much pain to exercise the best thing to do is to avoid exercise for a few days or so. If you do decide to train while you are in a state of increased muscular soreness, my best advice is to avoid heavy weights and use light resistance training. Increase your cardiovascular exercise and spend more time on body regions that aren’t in a great state of muscle fatigue and soreness.