Can You Do Bodyweight Exercises Every Day?

In case you guys didn’t know, I am a huge proponent of bodyweight training.

Bodyweight exercises are great; not only for increasing overall conditioning, but also for their ability to put on ample amounts muscle mass (contrary to what most people will have you believe).

The fact is, I’ve been doing high volume bodyweight workouts since I was 13, and simply doing these alone has put a huge amount of muscle and strength onto my frame.

Now of course incorporating weight training into my routine has made a big difference in my overall size, but you know what, I wholeheartedly believe that if I had never touched a weight in my life, I would still be very strong with a great physique to boot.

Having been such an advocate of bodyweight training growing up, I would constantly read online forums where I’d find people (like myself) always asking the same question:

Can you do bodyweight exercises every day?”

It’s widely believed (though debatable) that you should take at least one rest day between body parts when it comes to weight training so that your muscles have adequate time to recover and rebuild.

However, given that you are generally lifting the same amount of weight with every bodyweight workout, the general belief is that your body will adapt to lifting the same load every day.

Therefore, many people will say that there should be no negative effects of training the same muscle groups on a daily basis with bodyweight exercises.

But is this actually the case?

Well, it depends.

Specifically, it depends on your goals.

The fact is, asking if it “ok” to do bodyweight exercises every day is a stupid question.

It’s a stupid question because it’s vague.

What exactly does “ok” mean in this situation?

If “ok” means that you won’t kill your body by doing so, then of course doing daily bodyweight workouts would be ok.

Gymnasts train the same body parts every day using just their bodyweight, and they certainly don’t exhibit any negative effects.

The same thing goes with martial artists and soldiers in the military.

So if you’re scared that training the same body part every day will result in your muscles turning into a pile of goop, then stop.

The fact is, the body is an adaptive organism.

This is one of the things that most people seem to constantly forget in the fitness world.

They forget that when the human body is forced to go through bouts of extreme duress, it has 2 choices:

 

1. Adapt to the demand

or

2. Die.

 

Given that the body’s number one priority is to stay alive, it’s safe to say that it will do everything in its power to adapt to the situation before giving up on survival.

So now that we’ve concluded that it is not ‘dangerous’ to perform bodyweight exercises on a daily basis, does this still mean that it’s the best thing to do?

 

Well, some experts have speculated that high frequency training (such as daily training) may be the best route for muscle growth, given that protein synthesis will continually be “spiked” at a frequent rate (study).

Given the protein synthesis is the driver of muscle growth, elevating it as often as possible would theoretically result in more muscle gains.

While this logic is sound, the main issue I have with training the same exercise every day is the beating that it puts on your joints.

This was definitely the biggest problem I noticed whenever I did the same exercises every day for a high number of reps.

Given that I’ll never do a workout without putting a decent amount of volume in, I would consistently get soreness in my elbows and wrists from doing the same repetitive motions on a daily basis.

This I find is one of the biggest benefits of alternating your workouts, which no one ever seems to mention for some reason.

While some genetic freaks are able to get away with it, mere mortals like myself will usually need a day between muscle groups to give the joints a break.

This is especially the case if you perform a large number of reps per workout, which you generally should if you train with light loads.

 

A Compromise

Given the issue of joint health when it comes to high-rep bodyweight training, perhaps the best route to take is alternating your workouts.

Day 1 can be used for push-ups, dips, and pull-ups.

Day 2 can be used for squats and core work.

Then simply repeat.

This way, you still maintain a relatively high training frequency for each muscle group, while keeping the potential for joint injuries at bay.

 

Comments

  1. Appreciate the tips, Jon! Like how you write and a good sense of humor, as well. 🙂 Hey, I’m trying to lose fat and…some muscle – I’m a medium-framed muscular 5’2″ with about 10 pounds to lose. I know losing fat will help the “size” appearance overall but I have short limbs and am built with larger biceps and thighs and I can practically look at a weight and gain size regardless of what the experts say about women and testosterone. With those goals in mind should I do bodyweight daily to keep from packing on size or would you recommend alternatating cardio on my in between days for the best results?

    • Thanks for the kind words. And if you are trying to lose weight, the only thing that’s required is a caloric deficit. Both bodyweight training and cardio will help ensure that you remain in a calorie deficit, assuming that you do not increase your food intake. I personally would alternate calisthenics and cardio just to give the muscles some active rest between training sessions.

  2. Nathan Biscotti says:

    Is it ok to do a morning and afternoon quick full body workout (dips, pushups, abs, squats, etc) to boost metabolism and get some conditioning in, but also do a 5 day split weight training regiment in the evenings for strength? or is this just overtraining?

    • It’s fine as long as the bodyweight workouts aren’t so high in volume that they would put you into an overtrained state (which is unlikely). In other words, adding a few rounds of calisthenics on top of a reasonable weight training regimen will not make you overtrained. If anything, they will act as a form of active recovery and enable you to recover faster from your weight training.

  3. Mikael Lundqvist says:

    Hello!
    I’ve been doing bodyweight workouts 4 years now. In the beginning it didn’t matter much how I trained or how much as long as I did train. Now I need to push myself to see results. A few things I’ve observed.

    1. Circuit training is mostly good for cardio, not strength and endurance.
    2. One or maybe two sets to failure (or almost) has given me better results and quicker.
    3. Training every day is ok but I quickly become fatigue and very tired then.
    4. A day of rest between workouts has given me the best results, and quicker.
    5. I always train the whole body every time using compound exercises because, once again, it has given me the very best results.

    The two push and pull movements overlap on which muscles they use so they require a few minutes at least of rest between them. Maybe you can do squats between them to keep the heart rate high.

    • I concur with pretty much everything you said.

      Also, there is a specific reason why you’ve been getting better results by going to failure. I cover this in my book on calisthenics (coming out this winter).

      Thanks for the comment.

    • thanks for those notes! didn’t see that coming all the way in the comments hehe 😀

  4. You said you wont workout without putting on volume and then you’ll get soreness in some parts, i would like to know what kind of bodyweight training i should do to get sore because i do it everyday still i dont get sore at all. Maybe i am doing it wrong or less. Tell me your opinion and let me know if if i am one of the genetic freaks

    • I really wouldn’t worry about whether or not you are getting sore from bodyweight training. All that matters is that you are increasing your strength in the movements (through more reps per set or moving to more difficult exercise variations). Soreness is not a very good indicator of muscle growth anyway; I rarely get sore anymore yet can still progress in strength and size. I will be releasing a new training program solely for bodyweight training in the next few months, so stay tuned.