Exercise is good for you – that’s a fact. It provides goodness for every part of your body, from boosting your mental wellbeing, to improving your cardiovascular health, assisting with weight loss, increasing energy levels and building muscle mass.
How often and how much you should exercise varies according to your age and general fitness levels, but experts reckon most of us should aim for 30 minutes of activity, five days per week.
It’s easy to assume that the benefits you get from exercising might increase the more effort you put in, but this isn’t always the case. In fact, over-exercising can be bad for you, and can have detrimental effects on your health.
If you exercise every day, you aren’t allowing your muscles to relax, rest and recover after each training session. Muscle growth tends to occur after a workout, when muscle tissues are repairing themselves, so if you don’t give them the opportunity to rest, you won’t build muscle. Ideally, aim to allow each muscle group you work on a 48-hour rest in-between sessions, alternating between upper- and lower-body days. Aim for a mid-week rest day, then a day or two off at the weekend for complete body recovery. If you’re working out more than five days per week, you could be overdoing it.
Exercising every day also increases your risk of injuries from occurring, and by not giving your body the chance to recover, any injuries you do sustain could worsen over time. In turn, this could affect the quality of your sleep, make you moody, exhausted and irritable.
Giving your body a break from the gym also lets you replenish your energy stores. Your body needs energy to power muscle contractions, and if you don’t allow enough time to replenish this energy, your body will start breaking the energy down from your muscles instead, thus reducing your chances of building muscle mass.
Although you might think that the more exercise you do, the more weight you’ll lose, there comes a point where this weight loss actually reaches a plateau, and you could even begin to pile on unwanted pounds. Certainly, you’ll need to put more fuel into your body to make up for the extra energy loss from excessive training, and, if you’re tired and exhausted from over-exercising, you might end up making unhealthy food choices.
If you’re female, exercising daily could start to interfere with your menstrual cycle, causing periods to stop due to a fall in oestrogen. This could lead to premature bone loss, and may make your bones more prone to injury.
Maintaining a balance between the level and frequency of exercise you perform and the optimum health benefits to be gained is critical, and consulting with a personal trainer or a medical professional could prove beneficial to ensure you’re getting this delicate balance spot-on.
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