I’m going to exercise every single day.

When you work in a gym you hear it all. The opening line is ‘what time do you open in the morning?’ followed by ‘great, I’ll be here every day, 6.30 on the dot’ And you mean it – you really do. And for the first week you do it. Every. Single. Morning. (a bit later Saturdays and Sundays – but you are there). You are keen, eager and bright. Then guess what? It takes its toll. Your body is totally shocked. You have gone from little more than sedentary to a workout that the most seasoned gym bunny / muscle man would pride themselves on (OK – maybe your weights aren’t very heavy – but you put in loads of effort!). Let me tell you now – this approach doesn’t work – its not sustainable.

Of course, all those motivational issues are called into question. First of all – when the alarm goes at some unearthly hour its pretty hard to answer the ‘why am I doing this?’ question, and if your ‘why’ isn’t clear then you will fall at this first hurdle. But let’s suppose that your ‘why’ is clear, you still will not be able to keep up this punishing regime. You have probably also dropped your calorie intake and your body is now really screaming – ‘you want me to do all this on this amount of food?!’

The most important thing is to give your body rest. No one can work out effectively every single day. We all need at least one rest day a week. Why? According to Healthline:

  • Rest is essential for muscle growth – it’s a time when the glycogen stores can be replenished
  • Prevents muscle fatigue
  • Reduces risk of injury
  • Improves performance
  • Supports healthy sleep – exercise boosts cortisol and adrenaline, both make it difficult to sleep if there is too much floating about.

Building muscle relies on giving time to muscles to repair (that’s what the aching is all about) – without this rest time they won’t repair and you won’t get the body you want. If you really want to get great results get some advice and plan a gym programme that works different muscle groups on different days. But even then – take at least one day off a week. That doesn’t mean ‘sit and binge watch Netflix all day’ but it might mean doing a bit of gardening or go for a walk. See it as a day to reconnect and plan the week ahead.