Do I Need a Rest Day Between Workouts?

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Can you exercise safely every day, or should you be sticking to health agency guidelines of five times per week?

It all depends on what type of exercise you’re doing, but low to moderate-intensity aerobic activities such as walking, cycling or swimming can and should be performed every day without any major risk of overtraining.

On the other hand, if you’re training at high intensities and feel excessively sore afterwards, then take a rest day between sessions so your body can recover. You may even require three days of recovery, depending on your training volume and degree of soreness.

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Resistance training can place heavy demands on your muscles and may warrant additional rest days. If you’re new to weight lifting, minimize soreness by easing yourself into your initial three to six sessions. As you adapt to your new regime and start working towards higher intensities, you may require 48 to 72 hours between sessions.

If you’re combining aerobic (cardio) with resistance training, listen to your body and be sensible about your training volume, paying particular attention to your level of muscle soreness. You could do your cardio sessions every day or most days of the week, and complement it with a three-days-perweek resistance programme, targeting different muscles each time. Then on the days you do both, you could reduce the intensity or duration of your aerobic training, giving you more energy for the resistance part of your workout.

The bottom line: there’s no magic formula, but if you’re sore and devoid of energy after every workout, then you should consider increasing the number of rest days between workouts.

About Author

Dr Bill Sukala is a Sydney-based clinical exercise physiologist, health writer, speaker, and media health expert. He has published health articles in major publications around the world and has given invited lectures across five continents. Click here for more information or follow Bill on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and

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