No stupid questions: Can you work out every day?

Is it a good idea to pump iron or do cardio training every single day? It isn't; here's what to do instead

Person writing workout plan
(Image credit: Getty Images)

With beach body season fast approaching, a lot of people probably wonder if they can make up for lost time by working out every day until the summer holidays. The answer is more complicated than yes and no and depends on several factors, including your fitness level, the intensity of your workouts, and your overall health.

The short answer is no, you can’t, especially if you haven’t exercised vigorously for a while. Exercise puts stress on your body, and if your sleep and recovery aren’t on point, you won’t get leaner and stronger – you’ll get injured instead.

Most fitness experts recommend incorporating rest days into your workout routine to allow your muscles time to recover and repair. According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), beginners should aim for at least one day of rest between workouts to avoid overtraining.

As you become more experienced and your fitness level improves, you can gradually increase the frequency and intensity of your workouts, but it's still important to include regular rest days.

Maybe I shouldn’t exercise at all, then?

We’re not recommending you not exercising, just to clarify. Resistance training – any exercise that gets you moving against resistance, whether it’s dumbbells, resistance bands, or your body weight – offers numerous non-aesthetic benefits that contribute to overall health and well-being.

One of these is improved strength and muscle mass, which can enhance physical performance in daily activities and reduce the risk of injury.

Resistance training has been shown to increase bone density, reducing the risk of osteoporosis and fractures, particularly in older adults. It can also help improve joint health and mobility, enhancing flexibility and reducing the risk of age-related stiffness.

Resistance training also has positive effects on metabolic health, including increased metabolism, improved insulin sensitivity, and better blood sugar control, which can aid in weight management and reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

The list quite literally goes on and on and on.

Man doing dumbbell bench press

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Let’s get this party started

The best way to tackle frequent workouts is to ensure you don’t work the same muscles using the same workouts every day. Fitness has many sides, and if you truly want to become fit, you’ll have to do more than just pack on muscles.

On that note, we put together a very simple weekly workout routine to give you an idea of what we meant.

  • Monday
  • Strength training (upper body)
  • Exercises: Bench press, overhead press, rows, bicep curls, tricep extensions
  • Sets/reps: 3 sets of 8-12 reps for each exercise (maximum hypertrophy)
  • Tuesday
  • Cardio (e.g., running, cycling, swimming)
  • Duration: 30-45 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio (Zone 3)
  • Wednesday
  • Rest day or active recovery (e.g., yoga, stretching, walking)
  • Thursday
  • Strength training (lower body)
  • Exercises: Squats, deadlifts, lunges, calf raises, hamstring curls
  • Sets/reps: 3 sets of 8-12 reps for each exercise
  • Friday
  • Cardio or HIIT (high-intensity interval training)
  • Duration: 20-30 minutes of HIIT or 45-60 minutes of steady-state cardio
  • Saturday
  • Active rest (e.g., hiking, recreational sports, leisurely bike ride)
  • Sunday
  • Rest day

Remember to listen to your body and adjust your workout routine as needed. If you're feeling fatigued or experiencing excessive soreness, it's important to take a break and allow your body to recover. Be sure to incorporate proper nutrition, hydration, and sleep into your routine to support your fitness goals.

Matt Kollat
Section Editor | Active

Matt Kollat is a journalist and content creator who works for and its magazine counterpart as an Active Editor. His areas of expertise include wearables, drones, fitness equipment, nutrition and outdoor gear. He joined T3 in 2019. His byline appears in several publications, including Techradar and Fit&Well, and more. Matt also collaborated with other content creators (e.g. Garage Gym Reviews) and judged many awards, such as the European Specialist Sports Nutrition Alliance's ESSNawards. When he isn't working out, running or cycling, you'll find him roaming the countryside and trying out new podcasting and content creation equipment.