Exercise. Physical activity. Getting huge. Getting buff. Working your tush. Whatever you like to call it, moving your body is a wonderful thing! It creates good feelings, enhances body self-esteem, helps you to deal with stress, and makes you move better (but only if your form is great and you’re not overtraining). I bet if we all created a group list of the benefits, it would be thousands of words long.
How much exercise is too much? While there is no doubt about the good stuff, you actually can exercise too much. When you work out, especially if you go hard, you are damaging muscle fibers. That’s not a typo. Damage occurs during a workout. You may be thinking, “Wait. I thought it made me stronger.” What makes you stronger is proper recovery. Recover includes rest, excellent nutrition and body work — like foam rolling and massage.
But you LOVE to exercise! I love to hear when people get really enthusiastic about working out! However, there are times when over-enthusiasm is a red flag, like when you’re not taking rest days and when you’re doing challenging “double sessions” several days a week. Unless you’re training for a triathlon or other endurance event, you’re not doing yourself a favor by damaging the same muscles twice a day.
Muscles need about 24-48 hours to heal. If you want to squeeze in two mini-workouts a day, here’s a great idea. Work your lower body in the morning (20-30 minutes) and work your upper body in the evening (another 20-30 minutes). This is a double session that is helping, not harming you.
Additionally, taking intense classes or doing intense workouts on consecutive days does not give your muscles the opportunity to recover either. Rest days are a critical component of creating a strong, healthy body.
How often do I work out? I work out 4 days a week, about every other day. The sessions are moderately to highly intense. The exercises I do are “bang for your buck” exercises like variations of rows, pushups, deadlifts, squats, (assisted) pull-ups, and presses. They burn the most calories. They also require a ton of recovery, so if I am craving a fifth day, I make sure it is a light workout.
One of the great benefits of resting a muscle group for about 48 hours is that it is 100% ready to go! Say you do a tough glute (butt) workout on Monday at 10am, and you also work your glutes out on Tuesday at 10am. It’s likely that your booty muscles are only working at 50-80% capacity 24 hours later. If you wait to do glutes again until Wednesday, you’re working closer to 100% capacity. PLUS, you’ve given your body time to strengthen your glute muscles.
What is the reason that you are working out a lot? If you are wonderfully enthusiastic about exercising because you’re changing your life and taking care of yourself, I applaud you! Make sure you realize that overexercising can actually take away from results. Make sure you realize that excellent nutrition and good rest is about 85% of your results.
If you are exercising with the intention of losing fat, please listen to this. You don’t need to work out every day. You don’t even need to work out 6 days a week. Remember that not giving yourself a break is not allowing your body to heal and strengthen.
You only need 3-4 really good, total body, metabolism-boosting, ass-kicking workouts a week for results. Use that other time to prepare your food, go grocery shopping, clean out your pantry, go for a light walk, use your foam roller, take a bath with epsom salts or go get a massage.