Clients, other personal trainers, family, and friends often ask me: “Why do you train every single day? Don’t you need to rest? Isn’t this method more detrimental to your body as opposed to achieving any gains?”
I do this for several reasons, and don’t worry, ego isn’t one of them! I have been performing this method for almost all of 2014 and it has really paid dividends to my strength, mobility, flexibility, self-esteem, and my overall health. Rest assured I have actually tried taking a rest day on a few occasions; it was miserable! I was irritable, lethargic, unmotivated, sleepy, and I actually had a bit of a headache each time. So why would I want to feel that way again?
As I mentioned, I have numerous reasons for training 7 days a week:
-Motivation: By constantly being surrounded by inspiring personal trainers and caring clientele, I ALWAYS feel motivated to do a workout. The trainers and even the clientele love hearing about my goals and always push me to do better during my next workout. This is what I love about this industry! ‘Living’ in such an electric, uplifting, and inspiring environment leaves you no choice but to do a workout.
-Passion: Of course, as a personal trainer, you learn to ‘love’ your workouts. This does not mean I am constantly wearing a smile during my workouts. The workouts are still tough, rough, and serious. However, I do indeed enjoy my workouts. I always look forward to not only the main heavy lifts such as the deadlift and the squat but also to exploring new movement patterns which create unique challenges for not only my own workouts, but for my clients’ workouts as well. Obviously, feeling great and healthy 24/7 also makes my workouts that much more enjoyable.
-Stress relief: Yes, personal training is a dream career for me. I’m lucky to be in this wonderful industry! But it can be stressful like any other business. Also, other events in life can get you down. There is no better remedy for this stress than a challenging workout. The studio is my therapy and I feel the release as soon as I enter the facility.
-Responsibility: This reason is somewhat related to what I mentioned about passion. However, regardless if I enjoy working out or not, I still have a job to do. It is my role to live the life of a personal trainer – not only in the studio, but outside as well. I make sure I take great care of myself when I am away from the studio. My clients will lose trust in my word if I let myself go physically and mentally. This is why I always stress good habits outside of the gym to the clients: Stay active, eat healthy, and get proper rest. Would you trust an out-of-shape personal trainer who is munching on doughnuts?
-Training different movement patterns: I do not perform the same workout every day. I indeed always train full body when I come to the gym. However, I don’t always perform the same movements, nor do I perform my workouts with the same intensity. I could follow up a heavy squat day with a light kettlebell conditioning session. A demanding deadlifting session could precede a body-weight only day with heavy emphasis on stability and flexibility. I also train my weaknesses at least twice per week so that I can achieve further gains in my strength down the road.
The next reason I would like to discuss in a bit more detail. My main reason for the constant training is goal-driven: I want to lift as heavy as possible. It is that simple. I had two main summer goals: Front squat at least 2 plates (225lbs) and deadlift over 300lbs.
In order to maximize my strength in a given workout, I have to ensure that my body is fresh for the lift. I use the ‘Greasing the Groove’ method: I do not train to failure. When I’m performing heavy lifts, I always make sure that I leave 1 or 2 reps in the bank so that I can do more sets and more of the same lifts later on in the week. Applying this method has allowed me to workout every day since I am not completely exhausting my muscles and energy systems.
Strength training requires proper recovery of the muscles and the nervous system. My rep range is very low, usually between 2 and 6 for the main lifts. During a set, I lift until failure minus 1 or 2 reps OR until my form starts to fail – whichever happens first. I guess you could also call this Perfect Practice. This, along with 2-4 minute rest intervals, keeps me fresh for the next set. Using this method for my main lifts keeps me pumped and ready to perform these big lifts multiple times during the week.
As for ancillary movement training, such as lunges, step-ups, pushups, and pull-ups, my rep range varies between 6 and 10 per movement. And once again, I always leave enough in the tank to perform the movements again. I DO NOT train to failure.
Thanks to ‘greasing the groove’ and being surrounded by some of the best personal trainers in the Lower Mainland, I was able to conquer my goals. In late July, I performed 2 complete front squat reps at 245lbs. Earlier in the summer, I deadlifted 320lbs for 1 rep. These were proud moments and I enjoyed each of them for only about 10 minutes. Then I amended my goals and added new ones. So the process starts again! I am thirsty for more and determined to achieve my next goals. And so my motivation grows even more!
This method of exercise has worked for me. Therefore, it could work for anyone. Keep in mind, as my health and fitness goals change, so will my routines. I will not train for strength forever; thus, working out 7 days a week may not be suited for me in the future. I fully understand that this training regimen is not for everyone. One must choose a regimen in accordance to his or her goals. There is nothing wrong with rest days, especially for professional athletes, individuals training in hypertrophy, or for people brand new to fitness. However, I hope my above reasons help dispel the myth that people should never train 7 days per week.