Friday, 28 October 2011

How Often Should You Train?

We have all been told different reasons of why we should train everyday or every other day or even just 3x a week but which one is correct? Well first of all most people are too busy to train everyday so lets not get carried away and start comparing ourselves to athletes who are paid to train and have daily massage treatments. I’m only going to look at the research that applies to the average client and so for most of you reading this you will be able to apply the evidence to your own training program.

Let’s take a client able to train 6 day per week:
These results were based purely on training and no diet changes.
In one research study, participants performed six days per week of cardio for one year results in an average of only 6 pounds of weight loss for men and women (McTiernan et al., 2008). Subjects aged 40 to 75 were instructed to do 60 minutes of aerobic exercise per day for 6 days per week for an entire year. You would think that with such a high volume of aerobic exercise, the subjects would have lost twenty or thirty pounds. Instead, weight loss was a disappointing 6 pounds for men and less than 5 pounds for women. That’s over 50 hours of exercise per pound lost. That’s not the most exciting of figures!

In contrast, recent research from Australia supports the notion that training with intervals only three times per week results in significant fat loss. For this study, two groups of women trained three times per week for 15 weeks. One group performed 20 minutes of high-intensity interval training, while the other group performed 40 minutes of steady-state cardio. Only the interval training group had a significant reduction in fat stores.

These results alone start making the case to change the way you train and perform more intense short duration cardio! However, its important EVERYONE has some form of resistance or weight based routine so how often should we do that? Fortunately, a couple of recent studies show that resistance training can build lean mass and help with fat loss at the same time.
In one of the studies men and women performed strength training three times per week for 12 weeks while consuming a 2000 calorie per day diet. The workouts consisted of basic exercises that can be performed at any gym or health club or even adapted to use at home, including leg presses, chest presses, and seated rows. Each workout consisted of 3 sets per exercise and 8-12 repetitions per set. Very basic!
While the average bodyweight of the men and women didn't change over the 12 week program, they did gain an average of four pounds of lean mass and lost over four pounds of fat. They gained muscle and lost fat at the same time, which most scientists will tell is impossible, but the research shows its not! Even more impressive is that this occurs through all age ranges from 18-65!
In addition, strength training also improved blood sugar control by 25% (as measured by an oral glucose tolerance test) helping to protect against diabetes. Research is now being conducted  to show the links between the gains in muscle mass & improved blood sugar control-so lower cravings, more sustainable energy & less fat storage.

So lets put it all together. Low intensity, long duration cardio has its place yes but if your goals are fat loss & muscle tone then changing to high intensity training such as intervals & mixing a very basic resistance program will be of much more benefit. High intensity programs also reduce the time you need to spend in the gym which is a huge bonus after a long day at work! Resistance wise, the research shows that even a basic program has great benefits so imagine the difference you can make with a specific resistance program & a good diet plan?

So get started this week, drop the 60mins on the x trainer or 6 mile jogs and get your body moving faster-20 mins and your out the gym! woo

Peace & Love

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