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Can I do strength exercises every day?

by 2053 · July 03, 2013 at 1:35 AM

I have always heard you should never do strength training/weight lifting every day, but should give a day or two in between. I am a beginner (still can't do one real push up). I have been doing against the counter push ups, using a resistance band to do pull up type movements, lifting some 15 lb weights and doing squats (no weights) and lunges. My question is b/c I am such a beginner, can I for example do push ups and pull ups every day or is this in any way detrimental? My common sense tells me that if my muscles aren't overly fatigued then it's o.k. but I want to be safe and nice to my body! I am eager to make quick progress b/c I am hoping to start work on a farm soon and need to be in great shape. Thanks!

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551 · July 31, 2010 at 9:58 PM

Yes you can but keep the volume low (never going to failure). If the goal is to become strong, you should get used to the tension. You can definitely do that on a daily basis.

For instance, if you can't do a full pushup, you can work on holding the top position for a few seconds. Do the same with the bottom position. Add to this some incline pushups (hands higher than feet) and work slowly from there.

You should rotate the exercise you do (for instance, day 1 could be pushups, day 2 pullups, day 3 squats, and so on).

Again, never go to failure. It will be counter productive (no strength improvement, no muscle gain, etc.).

Once you build basic strength, I suggest you look into Grease the groove (GTG) if you want to keep training on a daily basis.

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1435 · July 31, 2010 at 9:39 PM

You shouldn't work the same muscle every day, even as a beginner. Muscle growth happens between workouts. But there is no issue with doing resistance training every day, especially if you enjoy it. And you are right that a beginner is likely to see faster gains early, so take advantage of it and get through that period quickly. If you go to www.exrx.net, you will find workout routines broken out into push-pull and other combinations, depending on how many days per week you work out, and how many days of rest you want.

Each muscle really only needs to be worked 1-2 times per week. More than that is overtraining and not allowing rebuilding to happen. It can seem like you are taking it easy, but it is an important element of progress.

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2525 · August 01, 2010 at 1:13 PM

Can you? Yes. Is it optimal - depends on your goals. If you want to bulk up and or get good strength gains, intense workouts with several days off is ideal for most people. If you want all round fitness and moderat strength, it's fine to do moderate intensity workouts every day. Many armed forces regimes have quite heavy daily strength routines - bodyweight exercises especially.

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20469 · August 01, 2010 at 4:11 AM

How best to exercise is one of those hotly debated topics that one could go on about for months. But there are a few basics. First, muscle strengthening occurs after the exercise is over. What you do in the exercise is strain your muscles until weaker fibers break. Then you rest and during the resting time, new stronger fibers regrow to replace the old weak ones that you nuked during the exercise. You do not want to exercise that muscle again until that muscle is repaired. If you interrupt the repair process by overstraining that muscle again too soon, then you actually slow down your strength gaining and can also injure that muscle.

So that is why people are saying either keep your exercise light so that you don't strain the muscle too badly and it repairs quickly or if you do more intense exercise, make sure that you give more time to heal. One thing to look for is if the muscle is still sore from the last time you exercised, then you are not yet ready to work it again as it has not yet healed from the last time. Working the muscle too soon is counterproductive to rapid fitness and strength.

Another thing to consider is recovery time. An eighteen year old reasonably fit male may recover in two days. But a 40 year old female may need 4 or 5 days for muscles to fully recover after a hard workout. Let the soreness be your guide. Two days may not be enough time for recovery after intense workouts either.

Beyond that, I would say if you are very serious, then try to find exercises that will exercise all the different muscles in your body. For instance, you don't want nice strong biceps but wimpy triceps. For the best health, all the muscles in your body will be fit and well balanced. IN order to work out a lot but to avoid overworking specific muscles, many serious fitness fans figure out schedules where they will work only certain muscles on certain days so they can work out many times a week but still have plenty of days for each muscle to recover. One of those splitting up methods often called 'push pull' has already been mentioned. There are many such versions available free on the internet, worked out by those far more knowledgeable than I. -Eva

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7936 · August 02, 2010 at 1:35 PM

I do a fairly simple rotation, giving myself a rest day or two if I need in, wherever in my schedule it happens to fall.

My primary goal is to try to hit opposing muscle groups to balance out the push and the pull.

Day 1: Pushups Day 2: Bodyweight Rows (inverse rows, 'upside down pushups') Day 3: (assisted) Handstand pushups Day 4: Pullups

If I'm feeling up to it I'll throw in a day of deadlifts and a day of pistols.

I'll end up hitting the same muscles a little more often than perhaps I should, but this seems to work for me.

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220 · August 01, 2010 at 8:39 PM

If you are doing strength training, 3 days a week is plenty for a beginner. I think that Starting Strength is a good, easy-to-follow program. Strong lifts 5x5 is another good option. When you are lifting heavy (weights that you can only lift for 5 or fewer reps), you will need plenty of time for both your muscle fibers and your CNS to recover and adapt between workouts. Although you are a beginner and may not be moving a ton of weight at first, your body is still being asked to do something it was previously unable to do as you progress, so rest is very important.

On the other hand, if you are not focused just on strength and are looking to build overall capacity, a CrossFit-style program that mixes different movements together 5 days a week might be more appropriate.

For my money, you should try to get strong first, then build capacity with a CrossFit-style program.

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272 · August 01, 2010 at 12:32 AM

hi. I don't think that pullups and pushups are going to prepare you much for physical work :) You might find that your lower back is where most of the stress goes. Then biceps and front shoulders and maybe grip.

I think you're right in doing some training every day, though I would think of it more as fitness/stamina than strength training. Let's say you magically developed the ability to do 100 pushups. Then you start the farm job and find after two hours that your lower back is screaming, along with your trapezius muscles, and you are all tired out and want only to just get off your feet. And no one had asked you to do anything like pushups at all.

So maybe repeatedly bending and carrying and heaving things, digging with a shovel, and sometimes lifting things over your head would be good. You'll also hopefully learn about using your structure efficiently. Good luck.

(You might also look on youtube for the appropriately named exercise--> Farmer's Walk.)

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10 · July 31, 2010 at 10:41 PM

Find a CrossFit gym and join. www.crossfit.com

They have excellent coaches and great ramp up programs, they will also be able to teach you how to scale the workouts. For instance doing pushups on your knees, pullups using bands, etc...

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2762 · July 31, 2010 at 9:43 PM

I'm pretty much in the same boat as you are, Hannah. I've been doing counter push-ups and using HundredPushups.com to guide me through it. I've had some pretty good success with that. My guess is that since there's no need to "burn calories" to build muscle that resting them for a day or so is a good idea. You can work different sets of muscles on alternate days, though.

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1357 · July 03, 2013 at 1:35 AM

Especially as a beginner, you just plain need to put the work in. You are such a beginner (can't do a pushup) that you can't push your muscles to the point where they need the time to recover. A great way to quickly improve your physical capabilities is to do it often to "grease the groove." Try a basic workout of pushups/pullups/squats. Say you start day 1 by just holding the top of a push up, hanging onto a bar, and doing 10 squats. Add a rep, or time, or a round, each time you can and just make small progressions.

For my personal experience: I went through a phase this winter where I was squatting 4 days a week, going overhead 4-5 days a week, and lifting every single day. I never went to failure, but I pushed it hard. I got stronger, leaner, and in way better shape. The average person (including paleoites) is so far away from overtraining it is laughable.

You say you want to work on a farm. I work on an (oyster) farm. I shovel 45+ tons of oysters a day. In between shoveling, I am constantly on my feet, moving around, picking stuff up, moving heavy things. Hell in between pots we do pushups sometimes. You need to have a motor to keep up all day. I'm lucky in that I started in great shape, otherwise I wouldn't have made it. To build that motor, you plain and simple need to do more work. Do something every single day. Add more when it gets to easy. Keep progressing. Obviously vary your workouts, but keep it simple and effective.

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0 · July 02, 2013 at 9:34 PM

I always hear people saying you need to rest or don't do the same muscles each day. But, really I believe listening to your body is the best answer. Because people in physical jobs do repetitive lifting or push pulling which is still exercise. Your body doesn't know if your getting paid in a job or just trying to exercise. In either case it's best not to overdo. Both will result in problems. Same with team sports like rowing, paddling, etc. practice is 5 days a week. Beginners take more breaks or skip more practice based on how their body feels. No one says practice is 3 days a week. So it depends on what type of results you want and listening to your body. My kids swim and that can be 6 to 7 days a week with morning and evening practice for a total of 3 or so hours. And while they aren't using weights, they are using resistance of water paddles, fins and the bungie which holds you pack while you try to swim forward. In the beginning you listen to your body, miss more practices or only hit one a day until you build up. And even when you can go 6-7 days a week for full workouts when you feel your body fatigue or muscles you take a break. Athletes DO NOT just decide the norm is skip every other day or only do 2-3 days a week and they are very fit. So the rest of us don't need that type of limitation either. You have the choice to be as fit as an athlete or anything in between depending on your personal fitness goal, even if you are not an athlete. Don't over limit yourself.

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0 · February 22, 2013 at 1:02 PM

Pull ups will work the lower back the same as push ups will. It just depends what you mean by work. The erector spinae will be working isometrically but not isotonically during both exercises. Of course this could be useful for labouring but doesn't mimic the more typical spinal extension movements involved in lifting.

Of course low volume work is also useful for developing maximal strength meaning you can lift more in one go. Of course it will not necessarily improve muscular endurance over 8 hours or strength endurance, ability to repeatedly lift maximum loads. To train that you would need to do repeated sets with little rest at a sub maximal load.

You were both right.

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