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How to Safely Work Out 6 Days a Week?

Regardless of where you are in your fitness journey, you may have wondered how often you should be working out. Is it better to skip the gym a few days each week? Or will you reap more benefits from an everyday commitment?

 

Everyone’s different. But if you want to work out six days a week, you need to consider a few things. For one, how your body manages stress. “Training stress boils down to volume and intensity (i.e., how much and how hard you train),” says Geoff Tripp, CSCS, certified personal trainer and head of fitness at Trainiac, who recommends a mix of hard, medium and easy workouts each week to optimize results and reduce risk of injury.

 

Your ideal weekly training volume also depends on how long you’ve been exercising consistently, Tripp says. Generally, the longer your workout history, the more stress your body can handle. Conversely, a newcomer will likely need time to build a fitness base and should be careful about doing too much too soon, Tripp says.

 

But if you’re ready to commit to six sweat sessions in a week, the following tried-and-true tips — along with an exercise plan designed by Tripp — will help you heed your body’s signs (always listen to what it’s telling you!) and train safely and efficiently.

 

1. Incorporate Active Recovery

When you hit the gym six out of seven days, not every gym session should be a high-impact, high-intensity experience. “Your workouts don’t always have to be stressful on your body to see results,” says Tripp, adding that lighter days are important too.

 

That’s because taking an active recovery day — think: yoga, hiking or mobility training — is like pressing a reset button for your body. “It’s actually the time between your hard efforts where adaptation takes place,” Tripp says

 

He recommends planning at least one full rest and/or recovery day a week, which will help your body absorb the training stress and ultimately, improve your fitness level.

 

Sometimes, exercisers with the best intentions lose the least amount of weight. What’s worse is that they often see their friends slim down just weeks after starting a new workout program. It can be frustrating and confusing.

 

So what makes one weight loss workout plan succeed and another one fail? There could be a number of factors involved. But in many cases, the cause can be traced to one of these blunders. If you’ve been struggling to shed a few pounds and your exercise plan isn’t yielding any results, see if you are making one of these common workout mistakes.

 

2. Compensating by Eating More 

When you add exercise to your routine, you get hungry more often—especially when you work out every day. Dealing with that hunger can be an uphill battle, because there is often a little voice inside your head that says, “I can eat whatever I want because I exercised today.”

 

That rationale makes sense. But if you are trying to lose weight with exercise, you need to achieve a specific calorie deficit at the end of the day. If you satisfy your post-exercise hunger with high-calorie foods or even with too much healthy food, you’ll end up replacing all of the calories you burned. Then, your calorie deficit and your potential weight loss disappear.

 

What are the benefits?

If you’re slightly sore, an “active” recovery may be beneficial. It may feel good to:

 

  • stretch out sore muscles
  • do light resistance exercises, such as core strengthening workouts
  • do low-intensity cardio, such as walking or swimming

 

You can also focus on muscle groups that you didn’t work previously. For example, add in an arm weight workout the day after a run.

 

In addition to feeling good, light recovery exercise may offer other health benefits. Mobility, or full-range, exercises like walking or easy cycling lead to more blood pumping through the muscles. This increase in blood flow may help you recover from soreness sooner. That is, as long as you aren’t overloading or challenging the muscles more.

 

Recovery exercises may even offer the same benefits as getting a massage. One studyTrusted Source compared soreness in a group of participants 48 hours after they performed upper trapezius muscle exercises.

 

Some participants received a 10-minute massage following the workout. Others performed exercises with a resistance band. Researchers concluded that both recoveries were equally effective in temporarily helping with delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), but more research is needed.

 

3. Vary Your Workouts

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“Doing the same cycle of workouts at the same intensity won’t lead to long-term fitness gains,” Tripp says. That’s because your body will eventually adapt to the stress. And when that happens, your progress slows, and you’re likely to hit a plateau and become burned out.

 

To continue making gains, variation is key. Switching things up with cross-training — varying strength, cardio and HIIT sessions — adds balance to your week and keeps things interesting, Tripp says. What’s more, a little variety in your weekly workouts also increases weight loss and lowers your odds of an injury, according to the American Council on Exercise.

 

If your workouts drain you to the point of exhaustion, it may be time to re-evaluate your program. Make sure that your high-intensity workouts are relatively short and that you include some easy recovery days during the week to give your body a chance to recuperate and rebuild.

 

Also, keep in mind that it’s not always the workout that is causing the lack of NEAT. Sometimes the choice to lay on the couch or sit in a chair all day is made out of habit rather than genuine fatigue. Try to skip the afternoon nap and go for an energizing walk instead. Stuck at work? See if you can use a standing workstation or take short breaks to get out of your chair and move around.

 

Investing in Supplements

Do you refuel during or after your workout with sports drinks or bars? If so, you’re probably erasing the calorie deficit that you just earned.3 In some cases, athletes need sports drinks, but for most exercisers, water is the best choice for hydration.

 

Your post-workout diet supplement is probably not helping either. There are hundreds of products on the market and, sadly, most of them do nothing but make empty promises and drain your wallet.

 

Instead of investing in bars, drinks, or supplements, invest in a visit with an accredited sports nutritionist or registered dietitian. They will help you to make sure you are getting enough of the right kind of calories to recover adequately from your workout.

 

4. Alternate Your Target Muscles

How often you should exercise and which muscle groups you should train all depend on your individual fitness goals. That said, concentrating on the same set of muscles during every workout isn’t a smart strategy.

 

For instance, six days of upper-body strength training is a recipe for too much stress and possible injury, Tripp says. Managing training stress on your muscles is essential. That’s why, after a heavy strength session, Tripp recommends at least 24 to 48 hours of recovery — so the body can repair tissues — before taxing those same muscles again.

 

To train safely and effectively, your best bet is to alternate target muscle groups. So if you’re doing upper body on Monday, make Tuesday your leg day. This gives your guns ample time to recuperate and grow stronger.

 

Muscle damage and muscle growth

Microscopic tears in the muscle, or a breakdown in muscle tissue, likely causes DOMS after a workout. Trying a new type of exercise or increasing the intensity can increase how sore you are in the days following a workout.

 

Over time, though, your muscles become resilient to that exercise. They won’t break down or tear as easily.

 

In response to micro-tears, the body will use satellite cells to fix the tears and build them up more over time. This protects against future damage and leads to muscle growth.

 

It’s important to get enough protein in your diet and allow your muscles to rest for this process to occur.

 

What are the risks?

Gentle recovery exercises can be beneficial. But overtraining can be harmful and even dangerous for your health.

 

If you experience the following symptoms, it’s important to take time off from exercise and allow your body to rest. Let your doctor know about any of the following:

 

  • increased resting heart rate
  • depression or mood changes
  • increased amount of colds or other illness
  • overuse injuries
  • muscle or joint pain
  • constant fatigue
  • insomnia
  • decreased appetite
  • worsening of athletic performance or little improvement, even after rest

 

5. Long-term Recovery is Key

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With bodyweight workouts, recovery isn’t as essential because you’re not causing as much stress on your muscles as weightlifting. However, when it comes to weights and building muscle, recovery is crucial.

 

According to Aguirre, “Since you should push [muscles] so hard, you need time to recover. They need time to become stronger, denser and bigger.” This time depends on the person and the type of training.

 

Aguirre recommends for the average person to only train one particular muscle or group at maximum, three times a week. For rest time, you should wait 24-48 hours before training that muscle again. This allows for your muscles to repair and properly rebuild a bigger muscle. During this time, you can work out other muscle groups or do active recovery like running or other activities.

 

100 squats a day is great for moving your body and getting in your daily exercise. As for muscle building, it’s better to pick up the weights and get to work. It won’t be quick or easy, but building a bigger derrière has been known to be extremely possible for all body types.

 

With the conversation of building muscle, it’s also important to know to embrace all body types. Small booties, big booties and all booties in between are all equally as beautiful.

 

6. Workout Plan for Exercising 6 Days a Week

This sample one-week plan by Tripp is designed to give you a balance of hard, medium and light days as well as to maximize your fitness gains through a variety of strength, cardio and HIIT workouts.

 

  • Sunday: Rest Day. Spend this doing very light activities like walking, stretching or foam rolling or a total break from exercise.

  • Monday: Upper-Body Strength and Core. Combine upper-body movements (both push and pull) that use free weights, your body-weight and/or weight machines with some ab work. Total time should be 30 to 60 minutes.

  • Tuesday: Lower-Body Cardio. Do 30 to 60 minutes of lower-body cardio like the elliptical, running or cycling at a moderate intensity.

  • Wednesday: Full-Body HIIT. This 30-minute full-body workout should be more strength and endurance based, with a high number of reps and light to moderate resistance.

  • Thursday: Easy Cardio. Take a 30-minute brisk walk, easy bike ride or light jog.

  • Friday: Lower-Body Strength and Core. Combine lower-body movements (both push and pull) that use free weights, your body-weight and/or weight machines with some ab work. Total time should be 30 to 60 minutes.

  • Saturday: Active Recovery. Take an easy yoga class or do some light cardio, take a brisk walk or do a mobility circuit. Aim for 20 to 30 minutes.

 

7. How To Preventing Soreness

To prevent DOMS, cool down after exercising. Unlike a warmup, during a cooldown, you’re gradually bringing your heart rate down and adjusting your body back to a resting state.

 

Start with a gentle walk or easy spin on a stationary bike for 5 to 10 minutes. Stretching for the next 5 to 10 minutes can also help clear out lactic acid from the body. Lactic acid builds up when you exercise and can cause a burning feeling in your muscles. Clearing it out will allow you to bounce back sooner when you next work out.

 

You can also use a foam roller to release any tension after exercise.

 

In the days following your muscle soreness, these recovery workouts may help prevent or reduce soreness:

 

  • yoga
  • stretching or resistance band exercises
  • walking or easy hiking
  • swimming laps
  • easy cycling

 

If you’re starting a new fitness routine or trying a new type of exercise for the first time, it’s important to go slow at first. Gradually increasing the intensity and frequency of exercise will help prevent soreness. And remember to always get your doctor’s approval before starting a new exercise routine.

 

Depending on your fitness level and how sore you are, you can usually resume workouts within a few days to a week following recovery. Work with a certified fitness professional to create an exercise regimen that’s safe and effective for you.

 

8. Work on Fatiguing Your Muscles

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During a bodyweight workout, you are working on muscle endurance rather than muscle growth. According to an article from 24life.com, you are burning more calories and helping your muscles becoming more durable, like for running and other activities.

 

Doing bodyweight workouts help burn calories, as well, which can lead to a calorie deficit. According to an article reviewed by a registered dietician on verywellfit.com, when your body is burning more calories than you are taking in through food, it can result in fat loss. 

 

When you have less fat on your body, your muscles will allow you to appear more muscular. So, by doing these exercises, you are causing your body to be more “toned” rather than building more muscle.

 

Personal trainer and performance enhancement specialist, Gerardo Aguirre, graduated from Globe University with a health and fitness degree. Aguirre is the owner of a HIIT and weightlifting gym in Stillwater, MN called G-Force, and he spoke to VALLEY about the aspects of muscle building.

 

The takeaway

In most cases, gentle recovery exercises like walking or swimming are safe if you’re sore after working out. They may even be beneficial and help you recover faster. But it’s important to rest if you’re experiencing symptoms of fatigue or are in pain.

 

See a doctor if you believe you’re injured, or if the soreness doesn’t go away after a few days.

 

Even professional athletes take days off. Working rest and recovery days into your regular exercise routine will allow you to perform better the next time you hit the gym.

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