Study compares once- versus twice-a-week strength training

In a study, 65-79 year old subjects were split into two groups; one strength trained once a week, the other twice a week. The results of this study,Comparison of once‐weekly and twice‐weekly strength training in older adults:

“One set of exercises performed once weekly to muscle fatigue improved strength as well as twice a week in the older adult.”

Exercise serves as stimulus to force your body to make a self-protective adaptation. That adaptation will only occur if your body is allowed to recover and compensate for stress placed on it.

As we age are capacity to withstand and recovered from stress diminishes. Exercise too often and you’ll ruin two workouts. If you’re not recovered from the first you won’t improve on the second. It’s a waste of time and effort.  

A lot of time is spent in the gym doing the same thing - the same weights, the same reps, the same times - with little to show for it. It shouldn’t be that way; if you are fully recovered you should improve each time.

Through trial and error you can eventually figure it; some never do. At Austin TX Strength Trainers and New Orleans Strength Trainers we pay attention to recovery.  We take the guess work out of it to ensure that the improvements are ongoing.

Should Friedrich Nietzsche be your personal trainer?

The Friedrich Nietzsche training method: “That which does not kill us makes us stronger”.

Thirty years ago as an experiment, I tried that method on my arms; I over-trained them. My arms were sore for more than a week. During subsequent exercise my arms were significantly weaker for several weeks.

About that time I attended a seminar. The speaker was Arthur Jones, the founder and inventor of Nautilus. I asked him, “If given enough time for recovery would my arms come back stronger”. His answer: “You damaged yourself and wasted your time”.

 A study bears this out. From this study Acute muscle damage as a stimulus for training-induced gains in strength:

“A single bout of damaging eccentric work did not enhance the response to conventional strength training and significantly compromised strength gains for several weeks.”

Over-training is damage; damage has a cummulative effect. If you don't think so ask someone older than you.

The proper dose of exercise is the amount that produces the best possible result.  Anything beyond that is, at best, a waste of time and at worst, detrimental. Don't waste time and effort when exercising. At New Orleans Fitness Training and Austin Fitness Training we can help you improve with the proper dose of exercise.

Overtraining Part Two

Frankie was a fanatical exerciser. He exercised with a trainer four times a week for an hour before going to work. On the weekends he went for hours-long bike rides. He decided to give our training program a try, and I put him through a workout. He worked out hard. The last exercise was the chest press and he was spent. During the last couple of reps he made agonizing sounds like the Mel Gibson character in Braveheart – really unnecessary but it got him through to the end. It was a little bit scary.

I suspected that he was over-trained, so for the next few weeks I convinced him to train just once a week, and I put him through moderately intense sessions. Six week later I put him through the workout we did in our initial session. On the last exercise the chest press he completed the exercise without the dramatic Braveheart sounds of cry Freedom.

I showed him the weights he had lifted. The weights were heavier by a considerable amount. I informed him that the weight on the chest press was 20 pounds heavier, and he did the exercise a full 60 seconds longer sans Braveheart sounds. He was surprised; I was even surprised. It dawned on me that he was profoundly over-trained when he started. He had cut his training time by 87.5% and showed considerable improvement

He left and a little while later his buddy Dick Dale came in and asked what I did to Frankie. I said, “Why do you ask?” He told me that Frankie was talking to anyone in the coffee shop who would listen about the workout he had just completed.

Frankie, Annette, and Dick are pseudonyms of course but the events did happen. The astounding progress in the short time had nothing to do with effort but everything to do with adequate rest.

If you are not making consistent real improvement you are prolly not getting adequate rest. You can ruin two workouts if the second workout follows too soon after the first. Most people never get a handle on whether or not they are over-trained because their form is not consistently the same. They are not comparing apples to apples. Another reason is that the workout is constantly changing. Variety is good, but it can hide lack of improvement if there is not two identical workouts to compare.

You don't need to workout that hard. You just need to do a little more than your body is used to handling, and if given enough rest, your body will, as a form of self-protection, will make a positive adaptation. We can help you with the right dosage.

Through trial and error you can eventually find out what works. I spent years figuring it out. At Austin TX Personal Trainers and New Orleans Personal Trainers our personal trainers have developed a high intensity training program (HIT) with special attention paid to recovery to insure that the improvements are ongoing – our business depends on it. We cannot afford to have clients come in and ruin two workouts in a row by not being adequately recovered.

Overtraining Part One

Overtraining occurs when one trains too often, too long, too hard or any combination of these. Plenty of other factors in life can contribute as well such as lack of sleep, poor nutrition, and stress. Overtraining appears to build up slowly and can go unnoticed. When I first began training I was hell-bent on increasing the weights I lifted. I thought I was improving, but I was fooling myself. I’d change the cadence a bit, take an extra second rest between reps, ever so slightly decrease the range of motion, subtly cheat your way through the sticking point a ¼ second in order to complete the rep and voila I improved. On paper I continued to improve but I was gradually becoming increasingly over-trained. The end result is usually burn-out, injury or sickness. I had my share of that.

From what I have observed it take weeks to build up overtraining and weeks for it to dissipate. Example One:

Annette trained very hard once a week and never missed a workout. On the other days she swam at least a couple of times a week. She progressed regularly. After a while she started to struggle, the workouts became brutal but still she improved. One day she came in and did the first exercise, the leg press. She strained mightily but her time was 60 seconds less than last time. I had only increased the weight by two pounds. It is motivation crushing to train that hard and actually go backward.

I had her take a couple of weeks off, and she did a couple of moderate workouts without doing the leg press. After a five week period of recovery she returned to the leg press. Her time was a minute longer than the last outing. She could have done another rep and the set appeared easy. Brutally difficult exercise and regression or taking a break and improving without a Herculean effort? We decided on the latter.

Had we continued on the same path her weight would not have progressed past the 228 pounds she was doing. We lessened the frequency of the leg press and her improvement continued to the point that she was doing 300 pounds on the leg press.

Through trial and error you can eventually find out what constitutes sufficient recovery for your body. I spent years figuring it out. At Austin TX Personal Trainers and New Orleans Personal Trainers our personal trainers have developed a high intensity training program (HIT) with special attention paid to recovery to insure that the improvements are ongoing – our business depends on it.

More articles on recovery and overtraining HERE

To be continued with Example Two…

Training more can backfire

From this NTY article Why Trainers Say, 'Slow Down':

"Of the tens of thousands of Americans who pay as much as $180 to register for marathons, as many as 25% fail to make it to the race. Injury, illness and loss of motivation as a result of overtraining are major reasons for this."

"No matter how conclusively science may prove the value of rest and recovery, the culture of endurance sports lionizes those who seemingly never rest."

"The body responds beautifully to the right schedule of training stresses," Lynn Bjorklund, who in 1981 set the still-standing female course record for the Pikes Peak Marathon, wrote in an email. "However, too much stress and not enough nutrition or recovery pushes your body toward injury and illness. You need to stay in that zone of just enough, and that takes a very high tuned and honest appraisal of yourself."

The operative words in that last quote are “Just enough”.  ParaphrasingArthur Jones: The proper amount of exercise is the amount that produces the best result; any amount beyond that point is at best a waste of time and at worst injurious.  

According to a Runner’s World article 70 percent of runners have an injury in a year of running.  Instead of seeing how much exercise you can withstand find that amount that is just enough to produce the best result.

People often hit a plateau in their training, and they try to overcome that plateau by training more - that is most often a mistake. By training too often you ruin two workouts. The first workout that stimulated change is worthless if you do not give your body a chance to recover. The second workout is worthless as well as you cannot give your best effort if you are not 100 percent.

While running can be done on a daily basis strength increases occur exercising as little as once or twice a week if it's the right exercise program. The personal trainers at New Orleans Personal Trainers and at Austin Personal Training have devised a program where the goal is not to see how much exercise you can withstand; the goal is to produce the most results in minimal time. They can guide you through a personal training program that will enable you to get more out of less time exercising and keep improving.