1️⃣ Most people should take 1-2 rest days a week.
2️⃣ Daily weightlifting with short sessions can be motivating.
3️⃣ Lifting weights every day is not superior for building strength and muscle.
Can You Lift Weights Every Day?
It is possible to lift weights every day. It can be motivating, and it burns calories. But there are risks, and you need to be dedicated.
In this article, I reference modern research and cover topics such as:
- Benefits and risks of daily lifting
- Should you lift weights every day?
- Recommendations for rest days
- The ideal training frequency for muscle and strength gains
- How to lift weights every day (practical advice)
Benefits of Lifting Weights Daily
Short training sessions are motivating
Consistency is the cornerstone of progress. By including weightlifting in your everyday life, it becomes second nature.
To get there, you need a training program.
A high frequency training program usually means short and effective sessions. You can train for 15-30 minutes without breaking up the flow of your day.
Short sessions can be motivating if you don’t want to spend hours in the gym .
We all know getting out the door is harder if a grueling 3-hour session awaits you.
|What training frequency is
Training frequency refers to how often you train. It’s measured in sessions per week. Hence, if your training frequency is 6x, you have 6 weekly sessions.
In strength training, the frequency refers to how many times you train a muscle or muscle group. Different muscle groups can be trained with different frequencies. For example, 3x biceps and 2x quadriceps.
Burn calories and lose fat
The more you train, the more energy you expend. And if you expend more energy than you eat, you will lose fat.
But there is also the afterburn effect. Your body keeps burning extra calories for up to 24 h after training   . More training volume and high intensity training leads to a stronger afterburn  . Scientists call this Excess Postexercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC).
Meet Cody Lefever (GZCL): the man who is training for 1460+ days in a row
Cody Lefever is a weightlifter who has not missed a workout for 1400 days. I recommend that you follow him on Instagram if you’re interested in this type of training. He’s known as GZCL on Reddit, and he has recently written a post titled Four Years Without A Rest Day. He explains the benefits he has seen from daily lifting.
The article continues below ⬇️
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Risks of Daily Weightlifting
There are several risks when it comes to lifting daily. The risks are all related to physical stress and a lack of recovery. Training capacity needs to be built up over time.
Whether the risks below are plausible depends on how hard your training sessions are. You're probably not at risk if you train with varied exercises and intensity 7 times a week.
Overuse injuries could be a concern for those engaging in daily weightlifting. The repetitive stress on joints, tendons, and muscles can lead to strains, sprains, and even chronic conditions such as tendinitis.
Pushing your body too hard can lead to a decline in performance. An imbalance between training stress and recovery causes overtraining.
Most gym goers are never at risk of overtraining. It primarily affects elite athletes.
Common symptoms of overtraining:
- Decreased athletic performance
- Poor sleep
- Unstable mood
Mental fatigue and gym burnout
It can be hard to keep up daily strength training over long periods of time.
Consider these situations:
- Will you train if you’re sick or feeling unwell?
- What about vacations?
- Will going to the same gym every day make you bored?
Forcing a daily strength training workout no matter what, can be rigid. It could lead to a loss of motivation over time.
Should You Lift Weights Every Day?
Most people have few compelling reasons to lift weights every day. You can make the same progress lifting 4, 5 or 6 times per week.
More is not always better
The best training plan depends on your training goals.
Your goal should be to train often enough to make solid progress. How often you should train also depends on how hard you train.
Let’s say your gym workouts are 2-3 hours of intense lifting. Depending on your conditioning, you can do it 3-6 times a week. But should you try to train as often as possible for maximal gains?
There exists a sweet spot for every person. I call it optimal training. It’s the training load that maximizes performance gain and minimizes fatigue:
- Undertraining is when you are training too little to improve performance.
- Optimal training is when you are stressing your body, but also getting enough recovery.
- Overtraining is when you have trained too hard for too long.
You can intensify your training program temporarily. Then you move into the red zone on the right. This is called planned overreaching which can boost your performance if done properly 
Now let’s dive into the specifics. There is a great deal of research that explains how training frequency affects muscle and strength gains.
The optimal training frequency for strength and muscle gains
Training frequency refers to how often you train a muscle group. A higher training frequency means more days in the gym. More days in the gym means more training volume . And more training volume means more muscle and strength  . Up to a point.
This brings us back to the question of this section: Should you lift weights every day?
If your main goal is building muscle and strength, then no. You can hit your volume goals training 3-5 days a week.
Going to the gym every day of the week won’t give results by itself. It’s what you do in the gym that matters.
Getting in your training volume is one of the most important factors for gaining muscle . Volume is more important than training frequency . Research finds no benefit to training a muscle three times a week vs. once per week, if training volume is the same       .
The reason: You will likely experience diminishing returns beyond 10-20 sets per muscle group, per week .
Too much volume can lead to a lack of recovery and progress
How often and how hard you train affects recovery and progress.
Let’s look at some studies.
German Volume Training (GVT) is a high volume training method. For example, you do 10 sets of 10 reps for 10 exercises per training session.
There is also a study where 17 trained men squats daily at 1 rep max (1RM). The study intended to overtrain the participants. Over the course of 2 weeks, the men decreased their squat 1RM by an average of -12 kg .
These studies suggest that more is not always better.
Still, there is individual variation. Some people respond better to high volume than others.
For most gym goers, we recommend 1-2 days rest days a week. The exception is if you’re an elite athlete. In which case, your training capacity could allow you to train daily.
Why you need a training program
A strength training program can be simple. At its core, a program covers:
- Sets, reps and weights
- How often you train (training frequency)
- Progressive overload (how to increase sets, reps or weight)
In training theory, there is a concept called periodization. It describes how your training program can change over time.
The more trained you become, the harder it is to progress. Training periodization solves this issue by adapting and varying your training plan with new stimuli.
Beginners usually stick to linear periodization, i.e. keeping the exercises, sets and reps the same, while increasing the weight week to week. But more advanced periodization will switch up training volume (sets), the number of reps, weight, exercises, technique and so on. That way, the lifter can break through plateaus.
Daily lifting doesn’t have to be permanent. It could be part of a high frequency training period. You can do it for 2-4 weeks and then switch back to your regular training.
If you choose daily weight lifting (very high frequency), your intensity should be lower . In other words, you shouldn’t max out daily.
I cover this in the section below: How to Lift Weights Every Day.
Active recovery is an alternative to lifting weights every day
There are many ways to train daily without having to hit the gym.
One method I recommend is to use active recovery.
With active recovery, you do low-intensity exercises on your rest days. The day after your gym workout, go for a light jog, swim or bike ride for 10-30 minutes.
Active recovery can complement weightlifting because it
An example of adding active recovery to your training program:
How to Lift Weights 7 Days a Week
If you want to lift daily, I have put together a guide for you. There are several things you need to consider if you want your 7 sessions per week to work well.
This is how to create a safe and effective weightlifting program:
Use a smart training split
A training split refers to how you distribute your workouts and exercises. Instead of doing a full-body workout every day, you can focus on training specific muscle groups.
For example, you might have a push day (chest, shoulders, and triceps), a pull day (back and biceps), and a legs day.
You can also combine days, body parts or exercises into unique variants. Deadlifts and rows will hit legs, arms and the back. This combination is both pull and legs.
A daily weight training program could be split up like this:
Or, you could make it even simpler:
You should experiment and find the split that works for you.
Add variety to volume and intensity
Volume refers to the total amount of work you do. Calculate it by multiplying the number of sets by the number of reps and the weight lifted.
A simpler way to calculate volume is to count the number of working sets per exercise. A working set is a hard set, taken to near failure. It’s different from a light warmup set.
Intensity refers to how heavy the weights are in relation to your 1 rep max. 1RM = 100% intensity.
Constantly lifting heavy weights at high volume can lead to fatigue, overtraining, and overuse injuries. Add a safeguard by alternating between heavy, medium, and light days. This method is referred to as periodization, as I discussed earlier.
Another way to vary the difficulty of your workouts, is to vary the duration. A heavy day could be longer, and a light day could be shorter.
Avoid muscle failure
You hit muscle failure when you can’t do any more reps in a set. You may know this as an AMRAP set (as many reps as possible).
Muscle failure has long been debated in the fitness community, and many live by it.
But research generally doesn’t find it to give any benefit. You’re much better off finishing your set 1-2 reps before you hit muscle failure.
The reasons you should avoid training to muscle failure:
- Failure increases fatigue and recovery time
- Failure decreases the number of reps you can do on subsequent sets
- Failure doesn’t lead to more muscle or strength gains
The recovery aspect is particularly important since you’re training every day. Hence, you need to recover quickly.
This figure by Senna et al., 2011 shows how 15 trained men were bench pressing for 5 sets. Going to failure on every set led to dramatically fewer reps on the last set vs. the first set.
Learn when you should use failure training, and if it’s ideal for building muscle mass and strength. Based on a scientific literature review.
My Experience Working Out 7 Days a Week
I trained 1-2 times per day in my mid 20s. It was a combination of cardio, strength training, and hiking.
For a while, it was very motivating, and I made good progress. I felt strong and well-rounded in terms of what my body was capable of.
But after some time, nagging pains started to show themselves. I think it was due to the constant physical stress. Even worse, I became demotivated.
After a while I started hitting a progress plateau. Believing in the “more is better” idea, I tried even harder. More sets, more reps, more weights.
The realization eventually dawned on me that I should do less, not more…
I started taking recovery more seriously: eating more, sleeping more, and splitting up my week into a smart training routine.
Some days were dedicated to cardio, others were dedicated to strength training. Some days were for resting and light recovery. This was by far the most successful split I had.
To round this article off, here’s my personal opinion on daily strength training: It does work for some people. It also works as a way to temporarily intensify your training program.
But if you want to do it for a long period of time, I think you should first find out why. Then you can find out how.
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