Being sore and tired after a workout is normal -- but does that mean you need to take a day or two off? Or can you jump right back into the gym the next day? A lot of factors go into how often you can exercise, including what type of workout you did and whether or how much everything hurts when you wake up the next morning.
Technically, your body doesn't need to rest after a cardio workout. Unless you've suffered an injury or are feeling weak or ill, you can go back to doing cardio the next day. In fact, you could do a cardio session in the morning and another one in the evening if you want to -- and have the energy for it.
While your body might not need a break after a workout, your muscles do. That's because muscles need time to recover and repair themselves after a weight-lifting workout. The general recommendation is to wait at least 48 hours before you work the same muscle group again. So if you work your arms on Monday, you shouldn't do biceps and triceps work again until at least Wednesday. However, you could use weight machines for your legs on Tuesday, since that's a completely different muscle group.
Soreness Versus Pain
Soreness is common after a workout, especially if you haven't exercised for a while. In fact, you can expect soreness to be at its worst between 24 and 48 hours after an intense workout. If you can stand to work out through your soreness, go ahead and work out again -- especially if the soreness is due to a cardio workout. Pain, on the other hand, might require rest. You can tell the difference by measuring the type of aches you're experiencing. Soreness is a dull, ongoing pain that's always there. Pain hits more acutely and when you move a certain way. Pain often comes with swelling, according to U.S. Health News. If the pain is bad, take a break -- rest a day or two, apply ice and see how the muscle reacts before you decide to go back to your workout.
Not everybody recuperates at the same speed after a workout. The older you are and the more out of shape you are, the longer it will take your body to bounce back. For example, a 25-year-old might only need 48 hours for muscle soreness to disappear, while a 55-year-old might need three days. Some muscles hurt more than others when you work them, so you might need additional time for them, too. Also, keep in mind that your muscles might be weaker while they're sore, so you might need to adjust your workout accordingly.
Tammy Dray has been writing since 1996. She specializes in health, wellness and travel topics and has credits in various publications including Woman's Day, Marie Claire, Adirondack Life and Self. She is also a seasoned independent traveler and a certified personal trainer and nutrition consultant. Dray is pursuing a criminal justice degree at Penn Foster College.