I got the following article
from a newsletter that I subscribe to called "Fitness
Black Book". Although it is mostly
opinion based, I do agree with his take on weekly volume
of exercise and the benefits of putting in your time.
I think this emerging trend of
quick workouts is great, but how brief can you go before
you aren't exercising enough? Can a few 30 minute workouts
per week really give you the same results as 4-5 one-hour
workouts per week? In my opinion, there is a time element
involved to getting in peak condition. Even if you train
hard, you can't expect to reach a high-level of
conditioning just putting in a few 30 minute sessions per
week. Perhaps the reason you haven't been able to lose
those last 5 pounds or don't have defined abs is simply
that you aren't devoting enough time to exercise.
One thing in limited supply for all of us is time. Life is
too short to live in a gym, but recent studies suggest
that 4 or more hours per week of exercise may be extremely
beneficial to longevity.
4 Days Per Week
Seems to Be My "Sweet Spot"
When I train 3 days per
week, I am always slowly sliding back. It doesn't matter
if my goal is fat loss or gaining strength. I can maintain
a look for a few weeks, but will eventually lose ground
and need to increase workout frequency. Again…I am not
saying this is true for everyone. Training 5 times per
week works well too…but 4 workouts per week is the point
where I can make positive progress. Anything less than 4
workouts per week will result in regressing a bit. I could
train 5 times per week, but then it comes close to "living
in the gym" (although I will do this for 6-8 weeks in
Spring each year).
What About the Time
I have gone through periods
where I trained as long as 2 hours per workout, which was
madness. These days, I seem to get my workout done in
almost exactly one hour and 15 minutes. I spend 45 minutes
of lifting and a total of 30 minutes of some sort of HIIT
(high intensity interval training)
and steady state cardio combo. I have tried to train less
than that and it just doesn't seem to do the trick. Either
I don't stay lean or my muscle definition and strength
levels suffer. Summer is a different story…the extra
physical activity can keep you lean with less official
workouts per week.
There is a "Time
Element" to Cardio…
I hate to say it, but even
the most intense HIIT for 10 minutes isn't as effective as
mixing in HIIT type cardio with an additional 20 minutes
of steady cardio. It is trendy to look at steady state
cardio as a waste of time. The problem is that most people
compensate with the additional cardio by eating more. If
this is the case, then it is a waste…BUT if you add in
this extra cardio while maintaining a calorie deficit you
will see consistent visible results. Intense cardio is
good, but you do have to put some time into cardio if you
want to see what it can really do for you. When wanting
to get really lean I follow a "30 minute rule"…I have to
get in at least 30 minutes of cardio after every session
of lifting. I have never failed to predictably lose
fat, getting as lean as desired following this cardio
Exercise 5 Days Per
Week to Reduce the Common Cold?
The Wall Street Journal
(Jan 5, 2010) talked about the effect frequent
exercise had on the common cold. Dr. David Nieman
conducted several randomized controlled studies showing
that people who walked briskly for 45 minutes, five days a
week over 12 to 15 weeks had fewer and less severe upper
respiratory tract infections.
"No pill or nutritional
supplement has the power of near-daily moderate activity
in lowering the number of sick days people take…These
subjects reduced their number of sick days 25% to 50%
compared with sedentary control subjects."
Over 4 Hours
of Exercise Per Week to Extend Life?
A study in Israel which was
reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine
(September 14, 2009), examined physical activity and
survival rates. The researchers examined mortality data
for 1,821 people for 18 years, from ages 70 to 88.
Subjects were classified as sedentary (less than 4 hours a
week of physical activity) or active (four hours or more,
including vigorous exercise, such as jogging or swimming,
at least twice a week). Here are there findings...
"Among physically active
vs sedentary participants, respectively, at age 70, the
8-year mortality was 15.2% vs 27.2%…at age 78, the
8-year mortality was 26.1% vs 40.8%…and at age 85 years,
the 3-year mortality was 6.8% vs 24.4%".
Basically, those who
were physically active for at least 4 hours per week,
significantly outlived those who did not exercise as much.
It made a bigger difference as people aged.
Sometimes More is
To me, the benefits of
training over 4 hours per week outweigh the negatives.
Obviously some exercise is better than none, but I am
going to do my best to create a new rule for myself…the "4
hour per week" exercise rule. I will do my best to get in
at least 4 hours of exercise per week. It doesn't always
have to be a gym workout, but I will do my best to hit
that number. These studies aren't the only reason I am
doing this. My experience has proven (at least for me)
that it takes at least 4 hours of exercise per week to
stay in peak condition.
ref: Fitness Black Book