You can workout seven days a week, but you can’t be lifting and hammering weights all seven days. The key here is to mix up what the workouts are. There is hardly ever a good reason to be hitting the weights hard seven days, unless you were on anabolics, or in some unique phase leading up to an event. Aside from those unique instances, variety is what will make it sustainable.
That is also the other key. Just because you CAN work out seven days a week doesn’t mean you should. Choose a frequency that allows you to see yourself doing it 6 months from now. What you don’t want to fall into is a recovery trap. It’s easy to think “well if two days a week is good, 6 days a week hitting a muscle should be even better!” and that couldn’t be further from the truth. Listen to your body. After every workout see how well the muscle recovered.
Are you tired? Did you get bad sleep? If you DO hit the same muscle again, did the performance suffer or are you still improving? These are all important things to take note of so that you aren’t just spinning your wheels going all out, and then wondering at the end of a year why you’ve made no progress.
On the plus side, some people like, and need that schedule to keep them consistent. If they have a day off, it may encourage them to get lazy and sit around all day, or not go into the gym the next day. So in some cases, having a seven day routine does work, but this will involve finding ways to incorporate movement and be active each day, not go super hard.
The Seven Day Routine
If you are someone that finds you want to get your body moving every day, let’s talk about the appropriate way to go about that. I will lay out a guideline that is designed to make you look really good and move really good.
Have Two Heavy Compound Lifting Days
You want two days where you can really get after it. If you are looking to get strong and look good, you are going to have to hit the compound lifts, and hit them hard. That doesn’t mean doing them back to back. Split these days out to give enough time to rest. This could look like training hard on a Monday and Thursday. This is hitting the squat, deadlift, bench press, rows, and overhead presses. Train them in the 6-12 rep range. Do one exercise per body part, and train 2-3 reps shy of failure.
Again, you COULD train 3-4 days a week hard IF that was all you were shooting for. If you are trying to workout 7 days a week then you need to space out your intensity. A lifter only needs 6-20 sets a week to see growth. If you trained hard every single day you’d be way beyond that. What your body can handle is different than what is optimal.
One Day For Mobility
One day each week should be focused solely on increasing your functional range of motion. To have a FUNCTIONAL range of motion means the ability to achieve that full range while having resistance applied to it. This is different from flexibility. You are owning the entire range so that even if a resistance is applied to you can still handle it without injury. The purpose of this day is to have a strong connection to the muscle to prevent future injury and strengthen the muscles and ligaments.
This is going to be very individual. We all have different lagging or weak areas. Figure out what those areas are and choose exercises that help fortify those areas. We have a program called Prime Pro which does exactly that. We also have a free Prime Pro Webinar which will help you go through what that looks like. This will also carry forward and allow you to perform even better on those heavy intensity days cause you’ll have spent the time priming your body for those workouts.
Have Two Pump Days
These two workouts focus on getting some extra volume on the muscles, and blood flow to the area to stimulate growth, without causing too much wear and tear like the heavy days. We want to spend this time focusing on a strong mind muscle connection using more isolated movements or machines that minimize risk of injury. Choose one exercise per body part, and use a rep range of 10-15 reps.
Have One Functional Day
The big downfall of traditional bodybuilding workouts is they mostly work in one plane of motion. In the real world, our bodies need to perform in all different planes. We need to be able to twist, and move sideways, and diagonal, and a lot of programs don’t address this which can potentially leave you dominating one area of growth. An example of this is the Turkish get-up. It doesn’t focus on any one muscle group. It forces the body to communicate together to achieve the movement properly. This will also carry over to your higher intensity days, because you are spending time training your body to transfer power and stabilize and build strong support in areas that are at high risk for injury.
One Day a Week Going for a One Hour Hike/Walk Outside
We always focus so much time on getting our bodies to adapt in the gym, but rarely ever to the outside elements. As a society, we’ve progressed as far as we have because we’ve found ways to make our lives easier. We have come a long way from introducing ourselves to small outside stressors that help strengthen the body and the mind. Get your body outside, and go for a walk to help relieve that day to day stress, and introduce new terrain, and elements that you don’t normally have in this high tech world.