You Can and SHOULD Train Every Day

By on May 4, 2022

Conventional wisdom tells us that training every single day is never a good idea.

The fear is that it will lead to burnout, overtraining, and injury. Instead, we need to leave sufficient rest between workouts. That means training maybe 3-5 times a week and alternating body parts.

Only, does that seem natural? Like… at all?

Running and Staying Active

I think this really comes down to how we define “training” and what our goals are. But, I think, for the average person, actively discouraging any sort of movement is a bad call.

So, to be clear, you shouldn’t attempt your one rep max on the squat or bench press every day. That’s like asking someone to run a marathon multiple times a week. A one-rep maximum is a max effort movement by definition. This is something that will severely tax the nervous system so, yes, you will need some time to recover.

See also: How the Environment Shapes You

But does that mean you can’t train, at all?

Not if training includes walking. Light jogging. Mobility work. Skills practice.

Training Can be Anything

Training can be anything. Training can be five minutes of bouncing a tennis ball against a wall – great for hand-eye coordination, great for cardio. It can be a little bit of shadow boxing to practice your punching technique. Or it could be a walk around the block.

Doing any of these things will get blood flowing around your body, burn calories, and provide your nervous system with the important stimulus it needs to move better and more safely.

Juggling on Steps

Walking gently will actually encourage mobility by enhancing blood flow. The same goes for a little light dancing, jogging, or skipping.

This is one good reason to train in multiple disciplines: so that there is always something you can do to keep moving and keep improving.

It also begs the question: should you really be straining so hard that you hit your max effort multiple times per week?

Wouldn’t it be better to train more frequently, with less intensity?

I know there are lots of studies on this. Lots of conflicting research as to whether intensity or volume leads to greater hypertrophy or greater strength gains.

Bench Press Volume vs Intensity

But I’m not talking about hypertrophy or performance on a specific lift. I’m talking about general health and performance. This is the thing a lot of people miss when making general fitness content: lifting more isn’t always the end goal.

Lifting every day, is simply more natural.

Farmer Strength

And the perfect example of this, is the legendary “farmer strength.” We could equally call this “labourer strength.” Even “Dad strength” factors into this.

Someone who works a physical job, moving furniture, digging holes, laying bricks, wrestling pigs – again I’m not sure what farmers actually do… well, they do that every day. Or, at least, five days a week.

Tire Flip

And guess what? Those people tend to be pretty strong, and they don’t keel over.

They also don’t typically look like pro bodybuilders.

The difference is that they aren’t isolating specific muscle groups, they aren’t actively seeking out the recognized stimuli that create muscle growth.

See also: How to Develop Rotational Strength

They also don’t have huge bench press numbers, because they aren’t practicing that movement specifically.

Each rep is slightly different, so they’re training more broadly. And because the weight isn’t so heavy, there are lower steaks to worry about.

Tarzan Workout Log

But here’s the thing: they also probably don’t put their back out every few months. They probably have an incredible grip strength. And they don’t tire out.

By the same token, if you ask a powerlifter or a bodybuilder to try and dig a massive hole ten days in a row, the person who is used to regular physical labour will do a better job. Much better.

Train for What You Don’t See

See, they’re training the things that you don’t see. They don’t have the “numbers” to show for it. And they don’t have the ripped physique. But they have stronger, thicker tendons (remember, tendons have a lesser blood supply as compared with muscle). Greater work capacity. Extremely robust movement patterns that actually translate to better work. They’ve greased the groove over countless repetitions of those movements, with slight variations.

Pistol Squat

They also benefit from a greater variety of movements and lifts, which is something I’ve talked about in the past. But again, this is less possible when you’re laser focussed on getting that one move perfect. Moving more throughout the day leads naturally to a greater variety of movement.

Their progressive overload is getting the work they need to get done, done faster and to a higher standard.

What Does Progression Look Like to You?

Keep this in mind in your own fitness journey. Don’t just look at numbers and metrics as they only tell a tiny piece of the story. Think about how much energy you have in the mornings, and at the end of the day. Think about how confident you feel. Think about how much easier certain tasks might have become.

How you bound up the steps. How you unconsciously used perfect form when lifting that bag off the floor.

Think about how this will translate to your performance and fitness 10, 20, 50 years from now. We all know those wiry old guys that are still way more practical and physical than us when it comes to actual graft.

Walking Down Path

They got here over decades of toughening. Thus, their gains are more resilient, too. This is a marathon, not a sprint.

Don’t just train for numbers. Train for specific tasks, skills, and jobs. And train for the sheer fun of it.

Now, I’m not saying that you can’t train max effort. Because there are plenty of people who have these physically demanding jobs who still lift huge numbers in the gym.

We can certainly combine being more active with a strict lifting regime. As long as we ramp up the volume and intensity slowly, while listening to our bodies.

Training & Lifestyle

That said, we do need to carefully consider their strength training in the context of lifestyle. We can’t view “training” as this special bubble that exists outside of reality. Your ability to recover and your physicality will be HUGELY impacted by what you do outside the gym.

And vice versa. As I said in an old video, Batman should never train his max lifts. Why? Because he wouldn’t be able to do his job the next day!

Don’t live to work out, work out to live!

If you’re not a professional powerlifter, or bodybuilder, then your performance in the gym shouldn’t be your measure of health and fitness.

Overtraining

Being entirely sedentary or static is so bad for you. It sends whole muscle groups to sleep, it creates tightness and stiffness, it makes you sluggish and lethargic, it slows down your metabolism and your heartrate.

We shouldn’t avoid any form of training or exercise between sessions because we’re afraid it’s going to take away from the next workout.

Because, doesn’t that entirely miss the point?

Don’t live to work out, work out to live!

About Adam Sinicki

Adam Sinicki, AKA The Bioneer, is a writer, personal trainer, author, entrepreneur, and web developer. I've been writing about health, psychology, and fitness for the past 10+ years and have a fascination with the limits of human performance. When I'm not running my online businesses or training, I love sandwiches, computer games, comics, and hanging out with my family.

4 Comments

  1. Wes says:

    Adam,
    I’m glad you posted this. I used to work as a window washer, and I had many ten- to twelve-hour days, frequently multiple in a row. I was always able to get up the next day and keep going. Maybe a little slower (at least until I got the soreness worked out), but I was always functional. Day in, day out, five to six days a week for years. Granted, I was in my twenties, but still.
    I also seem to remember Pavel Tsatsouline saying something like this, that you can use kettlebells everyday and really shouldn’t be pushing yourself to the max very frequently. Take a day off when you feel you need to, but you should pretty much be able to use kettlebells daily. And even when you feel you can’t use kettlebells on a particular day, there are so many other things you can be doing that aren’t just sitting on the couch.
    Thanks again. Love the blog, love the videos.

  2. Jon says:

    Was it an intentional pun about farmers and low steaks?

    Great article as always!

  3. Eva says:

    Dear Adam,
    You´ve changed the way I approach working our entirely. Thanks a lot for your input.
    Eva

  4. Kyle Du Preez says:

    hi pls do a Collab with CRIS HERIA

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