How important is it really to skip a day between workouts?
January 5, 2016 1:48 PM   Subscribe

I recently discovered that I enjoy swimming laps for exercise, which I am doing to get fit. However, I realized today that the ideal days for me to go to the pool are Wednesday before work, Thursday late-afternoon, Friday mid-morning, and Saturday morning. This is contrary to the notion of my youth that I should really exercise more along the lines of Monday-Wednesday-Friday. Is my Wednesday-Saturday plan potentially harmful? Should i not do it? It just seems that the better schedule is the one I would actually follow.

FWIW, right now, I can only do 7-8 laps with short (~1min) rest in between.

Thank you, as always, for your help.
posted by 4ster to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I have to ask: What notion?

Seems to me any activity is good. An arbitrary distinction like only on M-W-F seems far less likely to be important than getting out there and being physical.
posted by humboldt32 at 1:51 PM on January 5, 2016

Best answer: Skipping a day is mainly recommended for people who are doing serious weight lifting to allow for muscle repair/recovery. With swimming, you can exercise every day without problems.
posted by quince at 1:52 PM on January 5, 2016 [7 favorites]

Best answer: So I'm (more or less) an elite athlete. A rule of thumb for us is that we need to separate our efforts. Make our hard days harder, and our easy days easier. It's important to separate the hard days - otherwise you're not fresh enough to go hard, and you're just being tired.

If you're doing stuff for general fitness, then, stacking days is fine. In fact, it might be beneficial (but I don't know anything about training for swimming).

You'll know if it's a problem. If you can't get through workouts that you used to be able to get through. But if that's not likely at all - then you're fine.
posted by entropone at 1:54 PM on January 5, 2016 [7 favorites]

Best answer: why not make the friday one contingent on you feeling really good? if you feel at all tired, or achy, give that one a miss. then you have spacing more like m-w-f when you need it.
posted by andrewcooke at 1:55 PM on January 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I swim four or five days a week (between 2500 and 4000m) with no problem (I'm in my late forties, not some whippersnapper athlete). I know people who swim 6 or 7 days a week with no issues.

I would say go for it. If you feel tired skip a day. Otherwise, as quince says, swimming is not like weightlifting (or impact exercise like running), with no impact you don't need to recover except from tiredness, you can injure yourself but it's pretty difficult to do.
posted by itsjustanalias at 1:55 PM on January 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I was a competitive (if not very elite) swimmer in high school, and I trained six days a week. Mind you, high schoolers have the recovery time of Wolverine, which is sure as shit not true any more, and my rotator cuff still bears a grudge, but if you're going relatively gently, warming up properly, and easing back if your muscles are sore, you should be fine.
posted by restless_nomad at 1:56 PM on January 5, 2016

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. These are the answers I was expecting/hoping for. I just had this epiphany on the drive home today that the cycle that has been repeating itself with me for some time is that Sunday, Monday and Tuesday are just terrible days for me to hit the pool, but the rest of the week is not.

I got stuck in a loop were I would get to Wednesday and think, "Well, since I did not exercise yet this week, maybe I should start again next Monday," and then the cycle would repeat. I honestly believe you have given me something I can do and will enjoy.

Thanks again!
posted by 4ster at 2:03 PM on January 5, 2016 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Recovery time varies depending on the activity. You need to be careful with powerlifting, for example, because you can hurt your ligaments if you overwork them. Swimming is relatively low impact on joints so I'd say play it by ear but you'll probably be okay.
posted by deathpanels at 4:32 PM on January 5, 2016

Best answer: It depends. One summer in my early-mid 30s, I, a normal person trying to keep fit, swam every day or every other day, no problem. The next, my rotator cuff just stopped working after my second session of the summer (wouldn't let me open the trunk of my car - tendonitis, 8 months of pain and nothing doing. Had it treated but it comes back under strain, like sweeping the stairs :/). It's gentle exercise but it's extremely repetitive, which is the overuse injury risk, for vulnerable people. Would at least change strokes, often, do easy/hard, and also strength train to prevent injury. (I didn't at that point know I was a "vulnerable" person, this was part of figuring it out.)
posted by cotton dress sock at 4:34 PM on January 5, 2016 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Just pay good attention to your body and you'll be ok. It can be easy to over-do it when you first get into swimming, because it's so smooth and you've got the water buoying you up and you can't tell how much you're sweating. My general rule of thumb is: stop when I feel like I could still do a couple more laps, because once I get out of the pool, I always realize that I'm more tired than I felt in the pool. And the times when I've thought, "Just 2 more!" or whatever have been, invariably, the times when I've strained a muscle or irritated my shoulder. It's different than running, when I could always tell exactly when I was done.
posted by colfax at 11:54 PM on January 5, 2016

« Older Upgrade my bean bowl and noodle soup! (No sugar...   |   Can my employer not reimburse me for work expenses... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.