Is it “OK” to Work the Same Muscle Groups on Back to Back Days?

The conventional wisdom surrounding this question is that you shouldn’t work the same muscle groups on a “daily” basis, or at least this is how I’ve more often heard such instruction worded. In my experience, I’ve rarely heard anyone say specifically that you can’t work the same muscle groups for two days in a row, if you follow that period with a resting day.

In fact, those who would speak against working out the same muscle groups daily are more so trying to inform people who would think that doing crunches every day will eventually help them develop better abdominal definition.

I’m confident that you know better.

Instead, this question about doubling up on back to back days has a little bit more of a complex answer.

Let’s establish some context here by saying that you would like to work the same muscle group two days in a row, followed by one day of rest for that muscle group.

My opinion and I stress the word “opinion”, is that you can do it using one of the following methods:

  • Muscle Confusion: This means that you’ll do different exercises for the same muscle groups on both days. Perhaps eight different movements on the first and eight the next, taking care not to repeat any of the movements on both days.
  • Heavy — Light Days: Here you would simply use the first day to incorporate a heavy lifting routine for that muscle group and following up the second day with a light, low intensity “cool down” routine.
  • Direct — Indirect: Having a direct day would be where you target that muscle group as the primary focus of the movements. The indirect day would be targeting that same muscle group as the secondary focus, perhaps with movements that incorporate several muscle groups or your full body.

In my experience, these have all been viable options for working out the same muscle group two days in a row. As long as you allow for resting that group on the third day, then you should be fine. The important thing is more so that you have a certain level of variety in how you approach the muscle group.

I would argue that simply doing the same exercises for the same muscles groups two days in a row, might not necessarily be harmful, but doesn’t do you much good.

You should also be careful not to devalue rest as it relates to your workout routine. If you really want to push and work on a muscle group, that’s fine; though keep in mind that rest is a crucial element of building muscle, and if you go too long without it, you’ll get extremely fatigued and probably create more problems than you’ll solve.

Switching Between Resistance Training and HIIT/Metabolic Training

If you do want to work out five or six days a week, my advice would be to break it up this way:

  •  Resistance training for the first day.
  • High intensity cardio, metabolic or HIIT training on the second day.

Now by cardio I don’t simply mean running on the treadmill. Instead, use that second day to work on your explosive and metabolic strength. Incorporating body weight movements along with plyometric and interval training is a great way to do this, and it’s far more effective than straight cardio.
Remember that you can work a muscle group in a lot of different ways, so don’t limit your arm routine to just biceps curls and tricep extensions. Incorporate some high intensity metabolic routines that will burn fat and work on building muscles.

Breaking things up that way is a great way to compliment a good free weight routine, and to allow you to constructively work the same muscle groups on back to back days.

Jared Coleman is a professional blogger that shares tips and advice on health, training and nutrition. He writes for Fitness 19, a leading fitness facility with affordable month to month memberships.