How many days do you work out each week? We all know that being active is good for us, but most people don’t do it as much as they should. Whether it’s work, family, or extracurricular activities, gym time seems to be the quickest thing to slip away.
But for the people who make it to the gym on almost a daily basis—the self-proclaimed gym rats—have you ever wondered what happens to your body when you’re working out seven days a week?
We’re looking at the research and giving details on whether the “no days off” mentality is the key to your fitness success or whether it could hinder your progress.
Should You Work Out 7 Days A Week?
Some people might say yes, working out seven days a week is too much, but the real answer is “it depends.”
Realistically, how often you work out depends on several factors, including:
- Your fitness goals
- Your fitness level and overall health
- Your lifestyle outside of the gym
- Your training program
- How willing you are to push yourself
But before we dive into these, let’s look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of working out 7 days a week.
Pros And Cons Of Working Out 7 Days A Week
Assuming you’re following a well-structured workout plan, a no-rest day training program isn’t as bad as it sounds.
But most people are hitting muscle groups more frequently than they should and not providing sufficient rest—and that’s on top of poor lifestyle choices that aren’t conducive to recovery—which can accumulate and be disastrous for your health and progress.
But in any situation, here are some of the benefits and drawbacks to training every day.
- Faster results
- Consistent workout schedule
- Training variation
- Overtraining territory
- Potential burnout
- Potential injuries
Which one sounds better is subjective, but in most cases, having a day or two off never hurt. And a “day off” doesn’t mean you have to be a couch potato.
Active recovery days incorporate low-intensity activity that allows you to work out but limits stress on the body to support muscle recovery. We’ll talk more about this at the end, but for now, know that recovery days are a good idea.
Working Out To Maintain Health
For anyone exercising to maintain health, not necessarily to achieve a specific fitness goal, the recommended activity level for adults is at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity, 75 minutes to 150 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity per week 1.
On top of aerobic activity, adults should also participate in strength training two or more times per week to build and maintain muscle mass.
There are currently no guidelines about how often you should work out, but rather a set time you should aim for. How you divide that is up to you. For some people, that could be 45 minutes per day, whereas for others, it could be 50 minutes three times a week.
But if you want to maintain overall health and well-being, hitting a minimum of 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity activity is key.
Do You Need To Take Full Days Off From Training?
For many people, training seven days a week can be intimidating. But for others, it’s a drive that doesn’t stop. That said, “no days off” is a double-edged sword. Sure, you’re grinding daily to attain the best physique possible, but does eliminating rest days come at a cost?
Regardless of how often you train, recovery happens primarily when you’re not in the gym. Sleep is a big time for recovery. Studies show that sleep deprivation can profoundly influence muscle function and recovery, resulting in a hormonal shift that increases cortisol levels and reduces testosterone levels and Insulin-like Growth Factor 1, leading to a highly proteolytic environment 2.
As a result, sleep deprivation decreases muscle protein synthesis pathways and increases muscle degradation pathways, promoting the loss of muscle mass and hindering muscle recovery after exercise-induced damage.
But it is possible to train daily and get the sleep you need, supporting a full recovery.
Whether you train consecutive days or not, there’s ample opportunity for rest during the remainder of the day you’re not training—assuming you’re doing everything else right.
So, if you’re going to eliminate rest days, you want to ensure you’re following a training protocol that allows for sufficient recovery of muscle groups between training sessions.
Simply put, don’t train the same muscle groups back-to-back—it will severely hinder their ability to recover and, therefore, grow.
How Long Does Recovery From Lifting Take?
How long your body takes to recover from lifts is highly dependent on the person. But for most people, you’ll need a minimum of 24 hours between sessions for recovery, but in most cases, you’re looking at between 48 and 72 hours.
So, if you’re training seven days a week, you’ll need to split up your training so that you’re not hitting the same muscle groups within 48 hours to allow enough time for a full recovery.
A 2018 study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research looked at the effect of various recovery periods on muscle recovery 3. Participants completed 8RM on the bench press and then completed the exercise again after 24, 28, and 72 hours.
Bench press performance after 24 hours was significantly worse compared to the 48 and 72-hour tests when sufficient recovery was given. But even after 72 hours, 63% of participants had yet to recover fully.
However, it is important to note that participants completed four sets to failure of three bench exercises--flat, 30, and 45-degree incline—and recovery likely would have been higher had volume been decreased.
Another similar study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research looked at the course of muscular endurance recovery after three sets to failure in 10 men (age 18 to 30) compared with ten men (age 18 to 30) performing seven sets and ten older men (age 50 to 65) performing three sets 4.
They repeated the test after 24, 48, 72, and 96 hours to determine the extent of recovery. Results showed that at 72 hours, 80% of the subjects aged 18-30 completing three sets to failure had recovered.
But what’s interesting is that at 24 hours, they performed worse than baseline performance, while at 72 hours, they exceeded it. The takeaway? If you’re looking for a full recovery, aim for 72 hours or more between training sessions, especially for older people.
With that said, can you train seven days a week and still see progress?
The answer is yes, but you have to be strategic about how you train and what muscle groups you’re training when. You need a balanced training program that effectively splits your muscle groups to allow sufficient recovery between sessions.
Need some help? Here are a few tips:
- Aim to train each muscle group twice a week—avoid the “bro split” that trains muscles once a week
- Allow 48-72 hours of rest between training sessions that work for the same muscle group
- Focus on proper volume—do not exceed 10-20 sets per muscle group per week
By following these guidelines, you should allow plenty of time for a full recovery between workouts and, therefore, maximum muscle growth.
The one major benefit of a 7-day training split is that it offers plenty of time to focus on the neglected muscle groups.
Things like the calves, hamstrings, forearms, and core are often worked only in compound movements, never isolated, but if you’re training more and doing shorter workouts, you can work on strengthening and growing these muscles while allowing the “popular” muscle groups an opportunity to recover.
We can’t wrap this up without touching on the main criticism of training seven days a week—there are no rest days. While you may not have a dedicated rest day for your entire body, each muscle group has sufficient rest between training sessions that will allow for a full recovery.
If you’re including quality supplements like Pre Lab Pro® into your protocol, it’s a simple and effective way to get a head start on recovery.
And because Pre Lab Pro® uses modern and innovative ingredients, you’re supporting every step of your training—before, during, and after.
The point here is that training for seven days isn’t going to work for everyone, and it could be the key to fitness success if, and only if, you’re doing it correctly.
You could achieve amazing results if you have a training program that allows for 48-72 hours of solid rest for each muscle group between sessions.
But if you’re hammering the same muscles over and over with less than 48 hours’ rest, chances are you’ll see more progress by cutting back your training days to 3-4 per week.
Test this style of training for yourself and see how it works. But also consider what you’re doing outside training—sleep, diet, stress, and other factors influencing your recovery.
- Piercy KL, Troiano RP, Ballard RM, Carlson SA, Fulton JE, Galuska DA, Olson RD. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. JAMA. 2018; 320(19):2020-2028.
- Dattilo M, Antunes HK, Medeiros A, et al. Sleep and muscle recovery: endocrinological and molecular basis for a new and promising hypothesis. Med Hypotheses. 2011;77(2):220-222.
- Miranda H, Maia MF, Paz GA, et al. Repetition Performance and Blood Lactate Responses Adopting Different Recovery Periods Between Training Sessions in Trained Men. J Strength Cond Res. 2018;32(12):3340-3347.
- McLester JR, Bishop PA, Smith J, et al. A series of studies--a practical protocol for testing muscular endurance recovery. J Strength Cond Res. 2003;17(2):259-273.