Frequently asked fitness questions

There are a lot of questions surrounding the topic of fitness. This is why I decided to find out what the most frequently asked fitness/workout questions are. While answering these questions I try my best to take personal/ general opinion out of it, while focusing on proven facts and science

Today’s focus point are; Do I need to workout every day? How long should I be working out for and does it matter? How much should I be resting between workouts? Let’s get into it.

Do I need to workout every day?

Do you need to workout every day for what? To be a professional athlete? To be fit? To lose weight? To gain weight? What are we talking about here? What intensity and volume are we talking about?

For the general population, you probably don’t need to workout hard every single day. We’ll talk about taking rest a little bit later on, but it’s an important piece to factor in. Most people who workout in or outside the gym are looking for muscle/body adaptation, that adaptation takes place in your period of rest.

Some people like to add in some active recovery sessions but I really don’t count those as ”workout days”. These sessions are used to stimulate the blood flow on the days you’re technically ”resting”.

Doesn’t mean you should workout every day

Short answer: You probably don’t need to. Unless you belong to the 1% that does, for reasons like; being a professional athlete or you simply enjoy working out.

How long should I workout for? and does time matter?

Just like any fitness related question, it depends. But let’s take the general human population as an example. Too many of us (including me) get so caught up in how much time we spend on doing something. For some, spending more time in the gym is like a badge of honor. For the gym this is highly counter-productive in most cases. Yes, it’s great you spend 3 hours in the gym but how much time was actually spent doing something productive? Most fitness goals require intensity to get you the results you’re after. If you’re just concerned about putting in more time, you’re probably not truly focused on intensity.

As an example, pretend you’re running a 5K, since you’re so focused on time rather than intensity, you decide to run each mile at the same speed as you would do for a full marathon. Now rather than running 5K in 25 minutes it takes you 35 minutes. You definitely worked out longer, but was it better?

This time a different gym example. Let’s say you plan on doing a bench press session at the gym. You plan on working up to a 5rep max for that day, half way through the session you realize it doesn’t take up enough time so you add a couple sets afterwards. Now, there’s nothing wrong with doing some more work but what will this do to your intensity on the 5-rep max test? Most likely you will hold back a little because you have decided to do more work afterwards. Rather than pushing the weight you’re capable of, you lift 10-15 kilos less, just to preserve some energy for the extra work. Do you realize how backwards that sounds? Not doing what you’re capable of on the sets you should be doing in order to save energy for the sets you didn’t even need to do?

For some people volume is bit more important than intensity, for example, if you’re working on good range of motion, movement patterns or working your way back from an injury.

Short answer: You will save yourself a lot of time by focusing on intensity rather than time. The other benefit is reaching our goals a lot faster.

How long should you rest between workouts?

I want to stop saying that it depends on your workouts but it truly does. Your intensity, overall volume, chosen movements, workout type has a lot to do with the ”required” rest.

As I mentioned before, the adaptation of the body to the given stimulus is what leads to progress. The stimulus is in the training/working out you do and the adaptation finds place in the time you’re resting. Some forms of working out have a bigger impact on the body than others. For example, a heavy weightlifting session (think about doing heavy squats and bench presses) will take a lot longer to recover from than a zone 2 run session. Even though you rest in between your sets while doing your weightlifting it will have a much more significant impact on your muscles.

This is what your training stimulus looks like. The peak of the yellow section is the optimal time to train again.

The answer that you’re looking for is roughly 24+ hours, for the general population. Some people like to do 2-3 days in a row and then take a full day off afterwards, which has been shown to stimulate fitness as well. This works because the body gets impacted more (because of the back-to-back days) while also allowing the body to recover for longer as well (36-48 hours).

Short answer: Most people would want to give their body about 24-48 hours of rest, depending on intensity of the stimulus and consecutive days of working out.

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