I’m often asked by people enthusiastically embarking on a new training regime… can I do bodyweight exercises everyday?
My answer… it depends.
If you are doing intense, full body resistance training with bodyweight exercises then I definitely wouldn’t recommend it.
Resistance training is the trigger, not the benefit. Adaptation to resistance training is the benefit.
In other words:
Resistance Training + Effective Recovery = Benefit
Lose the recovery and you lose the benefit.
The inevitable result of intense bodyweight exercises performed on a daily basis is crashing energy levels, niggling injuries and dwindling athletic performance.
However, if you are determined to do some bodyweight exercises everyday there are some things which you can do to make it more sustainable:
1 - Focus On Different Parts Of The Body
In the bodybuilding world this is known as a body-part split. One day you might use bodyweight exercises to train your leg muscles, the next day your chest muscles, the next day your back muscles and so on. This setup automatically installs periods of recovery for each muscle group. While some get worked, others get to rest.
However it is not a perfect solution.
For one it is a lot more time-consuming than focusing on a few full-body sessions per week. Furthermore there will be an accumulation of systemic fatigue which even a body-part split will struggle to avoid. If left unchecked this will steadily build until ultimately sabotaging your training efforts and reducing your ability to recover and make progress. Rest days are still important!
2 - Perform Sub-Maximal Sets
Rather than perform each bodyweight exercise to momentary-muscular-failure you could ease off the intensity and perform each bodyweight exercise to a lower percentage of effort. This would reduce training fatigue and muscle damage and so reduce recovery time. This type of sub-maximal training is particularly popular with strength-skill movements (like gymnastics) where mastering the muscular coordination of an exercise benefits from more frequent practice.
3 - Use Less Demanding Exercises
Instead of using tough bodyweight exercises which require a high degree of strength to perform you could incorporate low impact cardio-calisthenics, dynamic stretches and yoga poses into a series of energising daily circuits. This type of exercise is not intense enough to trigger dramatic changes in strength and fitness but can be great for improving mood, health and energy levels.
Personally I like infrequent, high intensity, full-body training sessions. It saves time and allows for plenty of days-off training where you can enjoy the benefits of your hard work. However, if you would like to do bodyweight exercises everyday… it can be made to work.