Should I Be Working Out Every Day?
This is a question I get multiple times a month so I thought I’d address it here.
There’s a fine line between stress and recovery. There must be enough stress (physical exertion) to elicit some kind of gain (strength, muscular development, etc) and recovery to allow the process to actually happen. So my first question (as with most times I’m dealing with a new client) is, “What is your goal?”
The first thing they have to determine is what they want to accomplish. If your goal is to perform a muscle up, press the 48kg kettlebell, and deadlift double your bodyweight, then you’re not going to get away with 20 minute workouts three times a week.
On the other hand, if you’re a stay-at-home mom whose goal is to lose a few pounds, then you sure as hell don’t need to devote 60 minutes a day 7 days a week.
I’m going to assume you’re somewhere in the middle. You want to build strength, increase muscle mass, and drop some fat in the process, right? Who doesn’t?
With that said, here’s what I do and what I prescribe most often to my online clients:
● Four 45-60 minute strength sessions per week (like the strength blocks or MTC sessions at Onnit Academy On Demand.)
● Two 15-30 minute interval or sprint sessions per week (only one if your goal is not fat loss.)
● Two 20-40 minute lower intensity cardio sessions like a 20-30 min run, jump rope session, or Body Block from Pro (if your goal is fat loss.)
Done daily (or at least every other day)
● 30-45 minute walk (first thing in the morning on an empty stomach or before your last meal of the day.)
● 20-40 minutes of stretching/foam roller/Indian clubs.
● 10-30 minutes of meditation/mindful breathing/close your eyes and not think about shit.
The last one is the toughest to get people to do, but will deliver the most in my opinion. I won’t go into the benefits of meditation on this post, but if you’re one of those “I can’t turn off my mind for more than 5 minutes” then you’re one of the people that need it most.
Back to training…
With the four sessions it will give you plenty of time to practice the skill of strength based on your goals and if you don’t have a specific one it’s enough time to go through the basic movements (press, pull, squat, etc) and build strength with each one.
With fat loss as your goal, the four extra sessions in the form of intervals and L.I.S.S will be plenty along with proper nutrition to cut any fat off of your frame.
Many of my trainees will get the fat loss goals they want with just the four training sessions since I only do full or half body splits rather than body part splits (Full Body Circuit vs. back/arms, etc).
The four sessions are not all balls to the wall, heavy as you can possibly lift sessions either. Each session is more of a practice than anything else.
I recommend you think the same way. It’s not about “working out” but more about practice and progression.
I recommend at least one day of doing nothing more than a long walk/moderate hike/or VERY light kettlebell routine to give your body a break.
This is the second hardest thing to have people do (myself included). Once you experience the high from a killer strength and conditioning session, it’s REALLY hard to say “Nah, I’m cool. I’m just going to chill.”
When to Pull Back From Working Out
If you’re the type of person who loves to lift and you’re feeling extremely unmotivated one day or you find yourself in a rut after a string of days feeling like you just can’t get yourself to train, it may be time for a break.
During these situations of possible overtraining I recommend a one week break from anything heavy or extremely strenuous. Do a few kettlebell circuits, bodyweight routines or light runs, but that’s it.
Most people won’t get to this point, but don’t ignore signs of overtraining as it can lead to adrenal fatigue, increased cortisol, longer recovery times, and overall feelings of crapola.
I hope this helps you start the process in designing the best program for you (without getting so wrapped up in the minor details). This is great place to start for general strength and conditioning. Here’s my general routine these days:
Monday: Strength Session #1 (Heavy to Moderate – using 70-90% 1RM) + Light run (evening.)
Tuesday: Hill Sprints.
Wednesday: Strength Session #2 (Heavy to Moderate – using 70-90% 1RM.)
Friday: Strength Session #3 (Moderate to Light – using 50-70% 1RM) + Body Block (10-20 minute kettlebell session in the morning.)
Saturday: Strength Session #4 (Moderate to Light – using 50-70% 1RM.)
Sunday: Track work + Body Block (5-10 minute kettlebell session.)
● 4-5 days a week, I take my dog for a 30-45 minute walk.
● 4-5 days a week, I hit the Indian clubs and foam roller and stretch.
● 7 Days a week, I meditate 10-30 minutes.
Why preach it if I ain’t practicing it?