Strength training and its benefits are all about balancing stress and recovery. Every time you perform a strength exercise, you create microscopic tears in the muscles you’ve worked. So when you take some time off from working that muscle, the fibers begin to repair themselves and come back stronger than they were before. On the flip side, if you tax the same muscles every day, you aren’t supplying them with the time they need to actually become stronger. Instead, you’ll risk overtraining and lackluster results.
If you are lifting weights, a general rule of thumb, you should shoot for hitting the weight room three days per week, physiologists recommend. And, during each visit, you should hit most (if not all) of your major muscle groups, performing one “big” lift, like a squat, bench press, along with various “smaller” ones like shoulder presses, leg abductions, pull-downs, curls and lunges. By performing total-body strength workouts like this, you stress each muscle group enough to build strength, but not so much that you have to take multiple days off between each strength workout. Plus, you’ll have time to enjoy other activities (softball, yoga, walking, you name it) on a more recreational basis. Those active recovery or cross-training days will actually help you get more from each pound of iron lifted. Not only will they get the blood flowing, they can provide more oxygen and nutrients to those sore, torn muscles and speed up recovery time.
If you’re doing mostly bodyweight training, these exercises are ideal for strength training newcomers. That’s because, not only do they allow you to focus on the movements without worrying about dumbbells and barbells, they are generally less difficult than their weighted versions. (Less weight = less difficulty.) The fact that they are easier, though, also means that you can perform them more often without risking overtraining. In theory, most people, even newcomers can safely perform bodyweight exercises five to seven days per week.