You heard me right. Work out only every other day. You do not want to work out every day. There might be an exception to this, which will be discussed shortly.
There are two reasons for this bold statement. The first reason is physical and the second reason is psychological. In short, your body must recover from exercise to be ready to do it again. And, you must actually WANT to exercise again in order to keep it up for years on end. That's right. Years on end. Physical fitness is not a sprint to a photo-op on a weight-loss TV show. It is a lifelong marathon that you need to do. You need to think long-term, not short-term. You need to adapt a program that you can stay happy with for years to come.
After any exercise, our muscles must exhaust the byproducts of cellular metabolism and refuel. The more strenous the exercise, the more tiny muscle fiber damage there is to the fibers of our muscle cells. These are called microtears. These microtears are like the damage to a building after an earthquake. The body sends a clean-up crew to fix the damage. This takes time. If there is another "earthquake" too soon after the damage, the microtears are not fixed. So, constantly damaging our muscle fibers is not the best way to become either fit or actually build muscle mass.
There is more to the issue than physiology. There is also the psychology behind it. If we did a hard workout yesterday, we probably will not be willing (and able) to do one today. You will find that you are much more ready in your mind to do a hard workout after a day of rest.
There is one exception to this every other day workout idea. The one exception to working out every other day is for those who happen to be in their 20's. Our bodies reach their biological peak at about age 25. Therefore, we are at our physical peak in our 20's. If you are in your 20's, and are already physically fit, consider working out either 2 days on and one day off or three days on and one day off. A prime example of this is Crossfit. Their standard workout schedule calls for three days on, and one day off. It works great if you are in your 20's at the peak of your physical performance ability.
For the rest of us, every other day is the way to go. That especially includes young people under the age of 20. Why? Our bodies are growing until our early 20's. Extreme exercise without enough recovery will inhibit that growth process. You may not grow to be as tall as you would have with more recovery.
This is a radical idea for many in the fitness industry. After all, this means that you will not be visiting their gym every day. But it is the best idea for you. It also is the key to keeping you fit for a lifetime. Instead of trudging through another workout day after day, you leap into the every other day workout with extra energy and interest. You automatically do a better,more focused, and more strenuous workout this way. Then you have a whole day to recover and get ready for the next workout. Try it. You'll like it.
Here are our exercise sandbags.