ZocdocAnswersHow long should you let your muscles recover before you can work out again?

Question

How long should you let your muscles recover before you can work out again?

Started an exercise routine with free weights and light weight lifting. My muscles get sore the day after I work out. When is it safe to do more weight lifting exercises? Can you damage your muscles by working out when you are sore?

Answer

I am glad to hear that you are exercising regularly! Whenever people first begin a serious weight training program, sore muscles are quite common. Unless you are professionally training and have some major fitness goals for competition (which it doesn't sound like you do) then it is best to alternate heavy and light workout days, which will allow your muscles time to recuperate. Working out while your muscles are still sore puts you at higher risk of muscle injury, which could set you way back on your fitness plan. The best strategy, actually, is to alternate weight lifting days with cross training aerobic exercise days. These will exercise different muscle groups altogether, allows the muscles which have been strained by weight lifting to recover. Additionally, the aerobic exercise will be good for your heart. One of the main problems with weight lifting exercise programs is that they do not have the same beneficial effects for heart health that aerobic exercise does. However, alternating your weight lifting days with aerobic days will give you those benefits. I recommend that you talk with your primary care doctor or sports medicine specialist, who will be happy to give you more advice.

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