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Can You Lift Weights Every Day? (Plan For The Fastest Gains)

Connor Sellers
Published by Connor Sellers
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: August 10, 2022

As a fitness trainer, I’m aware that many gym-goers lift weights every day. But they could be making a grave mistake.

Daily lifting won’t necessarily help them build muscle mass. In fact, it might have the opposite effect.

While I know this from my own experience, I also wanted to check what science says about lifting weights every day. Here are my findings, based on dozens of hours of research.

Quick Summary

  • Lifting weights every day can build muscle mass, strengthen bones, and promote weight loss.
  • But it can also slow down muscle growth, cause injuries, and decrease the quality of your workouts.
  • If you want to lift every day, follow the two split workout routines and tips outlined below.

Lifting Weights Every Day: Pros

man looking at a kettlebell smiling

Everyday weightlifting has many pros, but I’ll focus only on the three most important ones below.

Bigger And Stronger Muscles

While other types of workouts can help you build your lean muscle mass, weight training is the most efficient. That’s because it quickly causes micro-tears on your muscles, which are necessary for muscle development [1].

Daily training with heavy weights should cause micro-tears even faster. So, your muscles will become stronger.

That might mean that you’ll build them more quickly, too, but not necessarily. As we’ll see below, some studies indicate otherwise.

Stronger Bones

According to Wolff’s Law, bones naturally adapt to the stress under which they’re placed [2].

So, if you increase the load you’re lifting, you force your bones to reconstruct themselves so that they can handle more stress. They’ll become stronger and more endurant.

Since lifting weights every day is bound to put extra pressure on your bones, the bone density should naturally improve.

Accelerated Metabolism And Weight Loss

ab view of a man with measuring tape

Strength training exercises generally accelerate metabolism and promote weight loss.

But you could further speed up both processes by lifting weights daily. Let me explain why.

Your body naturally consumes more O2 (oxygen) to recover after workouts.

So lifting weights will burn more calories to consume more O2. On average, we need as many as 5 calories of energy to consume a single liter of oxygen [3].

So, that’s partly why exercise helps us shed pounds in general.

But if you’re lifting every day, then this process of burning more calories will also happen every day.

Thanks to that, you could lose weight and improve your body composition in no time.

Post you may like: Does Lifting Weights Make Your Voice Deeper?

Lifting Weights Every Day: Cons

man with a dumbbell giving a thumbs down

Lifting weights daily has many cons, too. Again, I’ll outline only the three most important ones here.

Slower Muscle Development

When you lift weights every day, your muscles don’t have enough time to recover.

Here’s how an expert explains why rest days are so crucial [4]:

“In the scenario where the muscle does not have time to recover, a catabolic process occurs where the muscles degrade and continually break down. This process is referred to as ‘overtraining.’” - Austin Martinez, MS, CSCS, ATC, director of education for StretchLab 

When you overtrain a muscle, your cortisol levels increase. And cortisol, the body’s stress hormone, inhibits protein synthesis [5] and sabotages muscle development. A great way of lowering its levels is with the help of natural supplements that reduce cortisol levels.

What’s more, your body doesn’t have enough time to repair damaged muscle fibers if you lift weights every day. As a result, the muscle fibers won’t increase in thickness or number.

Again, this means that your muscles won’t grow [6]. Well, at least not as fast as they could.

Increased Risk Of Injury

man looking at his knee in pain

Lifting weights every day can cause muscle overuse injuries and muscle imbalances, especially if you’re constantly training the same muscle group [7].

A better alternative would be training different muscle groups each day.

That way, you’ll still train some muscles while letting the others rest and recuperate.

Muscle Soreness

Lastly, daily strength training may lead to constant muscle soreness — and you might not even be aware of it.

That’s because delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS, occurs 24 to 72 hours after training [8]. And muscle soreness can decrease the quality of your workout, lower your motivation, and further increase the risk of injury.

How Often Should You Lift Weights?

man doing lat pulldowns

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends strength training at least twice a week [9]. But that’s a minimum recommendation that you probably want to surpass. So, let me give you my advice as a personal trainer.

You can lift weights every day, but your body needs rest in between workouts. That’s why you should have at least one rest day per week.

That way, you’ll be able to reap the benefits of frequent strength training while giving your muscles adequate recovery time.

But you can also determine how often you should lift weights based on your fitness goals. First, establish how often you need to rest to achieve your desired outcome [10]:

  • If you’re training for muscular endurance, rest for at least 24 hours between workouts.
  • If you’re training for hypertrophy (growth), rest between 24 and 72 hours between workouts.
  • If you’re training for strength and power, rest between 48 and 72 hours between workouts.

Next, plan your weekly workout routine according to these recommendations. For example, if you’re training for endurance, you could lift four days a week and still have 24-hour rest periods in between workouts.

Of course, you don’t have to follow these recommendations to a T. If you want to lift more often, you can. In that case, just make sure you adopt a split workout routine.

How To Stay Safe While Lifting

man in pain and another changing plates in a barbell

Whether or not you’ll lift every day is up to you. Either way, you need to ensure you’re staying safe while lifting. Here are a few fitness tips that will help you do so:

  • Pay attention to the technique. If you have improper form while exercising, you risk injury. For example, you could injure your back while doing a bench press [13] if you don’t keep it slightly bent.
  • Don’t (always) power through soreness. Feeling a little sore after a tough workout is normal. But extreme soreness indicates that you haven’t given yourself enough recovery time. So, instead of powering through soreness in the weight room, take a day or two to rest and recuperate.
  • Add weight progressively. If you’re lifting weights every day, make sure you’re constantly challenging your body with more weight. Lifting more weight every week or month can help prevent hitting plateaus [14].
  • Alternate between different muscle groups. You should always train several muscles groups instead of just one. But this is even more important if you’re lifting weights daily. Alternations between muscle groups allow the muscles you’ve previously trained to recover. You’ll also avoid symptoms of overtraining, like sleep disturbances, excessive fatigue, and nagging injuries [15].
  • Do more reps. A higher number of reps can improve the aerobic capacity of your muscles [16]. A high aerobic capacity, or VO2 max, will increase your muscles’ flexibility, speed up recovery, and help you shed pounds [17].

If you find yourself struggling to follow these tips — or just want a helping hand — consider hiring a certified trainer to help you reach your fitness goals faster.

Workout Splits For Maximum Results

shirtless man using a dumbbell

As a personal trainer, I understand if you still want to lift weights every day.

Luckily, there’s a method that allows you to do so without experiencing the drawbacks of daily strength training.

The secret is in working multiple muscle groups during the week instead of just one.

That way, you’ll train one muscle group while the other one’s recovering.

So, I suggest you practice the so-called workout splits that divide your workouts by major muscle groups or body parts. You’ll find two done-for-you split routines below, but you’re welcome to come up with a unique routine yourself.

Upper/Lower Workout Split

One way to prevent overtraining your muscles is to split your workouts between two major body regions [11]:

  • Upper body muscles: chest, middle and upper back, shoulders, biceps, triceps
  • Lower body muscles: hamstrings, lower back, quads, glutes, calves, core

Here’s what your weekly upper/lower body split routine could look like:

  • Monday: Upper-body exercises
  • Tuesday: Lower-body exercises
  • Wednesday: Upper-body exercises
  • Thursday: Lower-body exercises
  • Friday: Upper-body exercises
  • Saturday: Lower-body exercises
  • Sunday: Rest

As you can see, this split routine includes only one rest day. You might need more, especially if your goal is to gradually increase the load you’re lifting.

Feel free to tailor this routine to your needs and wants.

Here’s how you could reorganize the above routine to rest more often:

  • Monday: Upper-body exercises
  • Tuesday: Rest
  • Wednesday: Lower-body exercises
  • Thursday: Rest
  • Friday: Upper-body exercises
  • Saturday: Rest
  • Sunday: Lower-body exercises

Pushing/Pulling/Leg Workout Splits

men using dumbbells' at the gym

Instead of splitting your workouts into two muscle groups, you can split them into three [12]:

  • Upper-body pushing muscles: chest, triceps, shoulders
  • Upper-body pulling muscles: back, biceps, rear delts
  • Lower body muscles (“legs”): calves, quads, hamstrings

Here’s how you could organize your weekly workout routine based on this split:

  • Monday: Pushing muscles
  • Tuesday: Lower body muscles
  • Wednesday: Pulling muscles
  • Thursday: Lower body muscles
  • Friday: Pushing muscles
  • Saturday: Pulling muscles
  • Sunday: Rest

More Is Not Necessarily Better — But Here’s What Is

woman giving thumbs up while working out and a person checking his wrist watch

So, we’ve learned that lifting every day won’t necessarily result in the fitness and health benefits you’re hoping for. More workouts don’t always yield better results.

So, instead of working out more, try working out smarter. Here’s how:

  • Opt for shorter, higher intensity workouts instead of going to the gym daily: To increase the intensity of your workout, lift heavier weights or, better yet, perform slow-motion strength training. Slow, controlled movements put more pressure on the muscles because you can’t rely on momentum to lift [18].
  • Rest only after you’ve completed the entire workout: Little to no rest time in between exercises builds muscle faster [19].
  • Avoid full-body workouts if you plan to lift every day: Dedicate each workout to only a single muscle group so that your other muscles can recover in the meantime.

FAQs

How Long Should I Lift Weights Every Day?

You should lift weights for up to an hour every day if you’re lifting a heavy enough weight [20]. That’s enough to trigger muscle development while lifting for longer could lead to injuries.

How Soon Will I See Results from Lifting Weights?

You will see results from lifting weights after three to four weeks if you follow a carefully crafted workout routine and stay disciplined with your diet [21].

Avoid Heavy Workouts On A Daily Basis

It’s better to give your body time to rest between workouts instead of lifting every day. Lifting day in and day out can increase the risk of injuries and even cause muscle loss.

I suggest you alternate between lifting and cardio or opt for a split workout routine for maximum results.

If you’re still not getting the outcomes you want, consider hiring a certified strength trainer to help you out.

Additionally, check out our article on the 10 best powerlifting exercises you can follow to build muscles in record time.


References:

  1. https://www.si.com/edge/2017/02/27/how-to-build-muscle-lifting-weights 
  2. https://www.icoi.org/glossary/wolffs-law/ 
  3. https://www.acefitness.org/education-and-resources/professional/expert-articles/5008/7-things-to-know-about-excess-post-exercise-oxygen-consumption-epoc/
  4. https://www.wellandgood.com/muscle-recovery-time/ 
  5. https://www.menshealth.com/uk/health/a759406/how-stress-sabotages-muscle-building-and-weight-loss-goals/ 
  6. https://www.builtlean.com/muscles-grow/ 
  7. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/overuse-injury/art-20045875
  8. https://www.self.com/story/things-wish-knew-before-started-lifting-weights 
  9. https://health.gov/sites/default/files/2019-09/2015-2020_Dietary_Guidelines.pdf 
  10. https://www.acefitness.org/education-and-resources/professional/expert-articles/4954/how-to-select-the-right-rest-intervals-and-post-training-recovery-for-your-clients/
  11. https://www.issaonline.com/blog/index.cfm/2019/upperlower-split-the-best-workout-plan 
  12. https://builtwithscience.com/push-pull-legs-routine/  
  13. https://splitandfit.com/the-6-best-exercises-for-chest-workout/ 
  14. https://www.verywellfit.com/six-tips-to-break-through-strength-training-plateaus-3120744 
  15. https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/what-to-know-about-overtraining 
  16. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/muscular-endurance 
  17. https://www.acefitness.org/education-and-resources/professional/expert-articles/6464/8-things-to-know-about-aerobic-capacity-and-how-to-improve-it/ 
  18. https://www.s2idaho.com/benefits-of-slow-motion-strength-training/
  19. https://www.theperfectworkout.com/better-exercise/ 
  20. https://www.self.com/story/things-wish-knew-before-started-lifting-weights
  21. https://www.insider.com/how-long-does-it-take-to-build-muscle

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