We all have a favorite muscle group that we love to train. For me, it’s my glutes. If I could train them every day, I would.
However, I recognize the dangers in consecutively training the same muscle group.
When performing back-to-back workouts targeting the same muscle group, you increase your risk of developing overuse injuries. Exercising exerts large amounts of force on both the muscles and the joints. Your body needs at least a day to recover from this stress. When your muscles and joints do not receive adequate rest due to consecutive training, pain and injury result.
Consecutive training of the same muscles can also affect the development of your strength and tone. Exercising causes micro tears in the muscle tissue. Taking one to two days rest between working a particular muscle group allows your body to repair those micro tears, and develop stronger and denser muscle tissue.
However, if you work the same muscle group sequentially, these micro tears do not have the ability to heal. So you may experience fewer gains in muscular strength and tone.
Back-to-back training of the same muscle group can also lead to muscular imbalances. Training in this manner over time can lead to increased strength in one area, at the expense of other supporting muscles. As the targeted muscles get stronger, and the supporting muscles get weaker, your body overcompensates for these muscular imbalances. This overcompensation can lead to pain, inflammation and other complications.
Prior to completing my exercise science degree and becoming a certified personal trainer, I consistently trained the same muscle group back-to-back. Doing so caused me to develop a partially frozen scapula. My physician explained this occurred because the muscles of my chest and shoulders became stronger than my back muscles, causing imbalances. This very painful injury required several months of work with a physical therapist to correct.
If you’re someone like me, who enjoys total body training, you have to be intentional with your programming to avoid targeting the same muscle group consecutive days. When developing total body workout regimens for my clients and myself, I typically schedule cardio or rest on the days following full body training. This allows time for the body to recover.
When this is not an option, I format the workouts to train a different part of each muscle group daily instead. For example, on Mondays and Wednesdays, perform exercises that target the shoulders, chest, abdominals, and quadriceps. Tuesdays and Thursdays, I train with exercises targeting the upper and lower back muscles, the rear of the shoulders, hamstrings, and calves.
If you find yourself working the same muscle group back-to-back on rare occasions, I would not be too concerned about your risk of injury. However, if you are consistently training this way, you are at increased risk for experiencing some problems.