Are you a weekend warrior? Weekend warriors are people who work at a desk and sit in front of the television or a computer after work – only lifting a muscle to change the channel or surf over to a new web page. On the other hand, when the weekend rolls around, they kick into “high gear” in a frenzied effort to cram a week’s worth of exercise into two days. Can these weekend-only workouts be effective – or are they a waste of time?
Have you ever wondered why gyms and fitness centers are packed on the weekends? That’s when the weekend warriors are out in full force to do their weekend workouts. Weekend-only workouts certainly aren’t the best way to build a leaner, stronger body, although it’s better than sitting at home on the couch snacking on Cheetos while watching the Saturday morning cartoons.
One problem with the weekend exercise approach is you have five days to wait for the next workout. During this time your body becomes de-conditioned. On the other hand, you may actually get some benefits from exercising only two days a week if you space the two days further from one another. Instead of cramming a week’s exercise into Saturday and Sunday weekend warrior style, you could exercise on Saturday and Wednesday instead. Doing a two day a week exercise program will get you fit more slowly, but you’ll make progress over time.
To be successful with the two day a week approach (evenly spaced, of course), you’ll get the most benefits doing circuit training – a combination of high-intensity aerobics and strength training. To circuit train, you could do two minutes of aerobic to get your heart rate up, followed by two minutes of resistance training to build strength – and alternate back and forth for at least thirty minutes – or until exhausted. This is the best way to build strength and endurance when you have little time to work out. Doing a high-intensity circuit workout like this as little as twice a week gives results, although working out three times a week is better.
Another problem with the weekend warrior exercise approach is it increases the risk of injury. When you lift weights or do high-intensity exercise only on the weekend, your muscles become de-conditioned between workouts, and the risk of soreness and injuries goes up. By exercising Sunday and Wednesdays you avoid this problem, because the muscles have less down time to become de-conditioned.
There is some good news for weekend warriors. One study showed that men who burn at least 1,000 calories exercising only on the weekend had a sixty-percent lower risk of death compared to men who didn’t exercise at all. Any exercise is better than vegging out on the sidelines.
The bottom line? Change your weekend warrior ways, and stop trying to cram a week’s worth of exercise into Saturday and Sunday. Exercise at least one day during the week too – when you can spare an hour to circuit train – and get ready to see results.
Haaretz.com. “Experts say: exercising once a week is not enough”