If you are just starting to exercise, a more moderate approach will get you bigger gains (and less injury)

You are excited.  You have a goal and you want to meet it so you start working out.  We all know that if a little is good, a lot must be better, so you work out every day.

Hold on there, cowboy.

Especially when you are starting out, your body needs to adjust to the new level of work that you are putting it through. Muscles need time to grow stronger, your metabolism needs time to adjust to the new stresses, and your brain needs to figure out what is going on also.

A big push right out of the gate can be counter productive both from an injury point of view and getting you in better shape.

Rest = recovery.

This is the time that the body adapts to the stress of exercise and the real training effect takes place. When given some time, your body replenishes energy stores and repairs muscle damage. Don’t allow rest days and you continue to deplete energy meaning you will be tired all the time and possibly be depressed, exercise less well and, well, you are going to hurt yourself.


Two days a week, meh, not much real benefit.  If that is all you can do, it will help maintain a bit, but won’t help you get stronger, faster, better.

Six days a week will not allow you recovery time you need. You are going to be too tired to get the full benefits of your workouts.

Four days a week… well, like Goldilocks said, that is just right.

Read more about it in the New York Times here.

This study is aimed at people coming off the couch.  If you are a much higher level athlete, you will need to find your own balance.  Rest and recovery should always be an important part of that mix.  How much will be between you and your body.


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