No matter what the goal or gender of a trainee, resistance training is one of the “must have” components of a fitness routine which provides countless health benefits. Unlike doing aerobics, yoga or Pilates, lifting weights on a re-gu-lar basis causes muscles to hypertrophy, aka grow. And when muscles hypertrophy, the body experiences an increase in lean muscle mass; resulting in a higher resting metabolic rate; causing the body to burn fat faster; leaving the trainee with an improved body composition, a better physical appearance and increased self-confidence. Other well-known positive “side-effects” include, but are not limited to; an increase in strength and coordination (aiding in the prevention of age-related injury), better levels of bone density (reducing the risk of osteopenia and osteoporosis), a more restful and productive sleep (by releasing endorphins that reduce the amount of stress in the body) and raised natural hormone levels (“slowing” the aging process). Also, a consistent “diet” of pumping iron increases the flexibility of joints as they repeatedly move through a full range of motion – similar to a dynamic stretch. And finally, this type of anaerobic exercise boots wellness and immunity by increasing the body’s core temperature which triggers the speedy removal bacteria and other impurities caused by minor infections.
The question again is, “Can weight training once a week provide all or any of these results?” Let’s see what the research says:
Richard Joshua Hernandez and Len Kravitz, Ph. D, in their study of The Mystery of Skeletal Muscle Hypertrophy, concluded that since hypertrophy is a response to the repetitive process in which muscles are stimulated with resistance, recover and then stimulated with an increased amount of resistance (Progressive Overload), training once a week leaves too long of a recovery time and the body will unlikely build muscle. Therefore, the results will likely not be seen.
According to MayoClinic.com, muscles need between 24 and 48 hours of recovery time (depending on exercise intensity) between resistance workouts. Thus, leaving a six-day recovery time between workouts, is excessive and may “inhibit” building muscle. Therefore, the results will likely not be seen.
In a study reported on abcbodybuilding.com, authors Jacob Wilson and Gabriel Wilson held that resistance training at least two to three times a week is necessary to increase muscle mass. Here, results will be seen.
Now, some have claimed to have experienced an “increase in strength” by training once a week. But studies have shown that any perceived strength increase has been misinterpreted and is not a result of muscle strength due to hypertrophy, but rather better coordination resulting from neurological adaptation – where the body has learned how to deal with a stimulus through repetition of movement.
So, are there any benefits to training once a week? In their book, “Science and Practice of Strength Training”, Vladimir M. Zatsiorsky and William J. Kraemer write that, for maintaining muscle strength, resistance training once a week was just as effective as twice a week.
Therefore, my consistent “inconsisters” and brothers, if you are not happy with your level of fitness, or you’ve been battling bouts of sickness and/or depression, and you’ve been averaging less than two training sessions a week, I “strongly” suggest you do your best to add one or two more to your schedule. You will find that the extra time spent on fitness will reduce the amount of time of any illness and likely increase the amount of success in reaching your goals.
And don’t worry my dear Lady Lifters, if you want to be lean and toned, stick with weight training and follow your diet. Unfortunately, many of the aerobics, yoga and Pilates gurus have misinformed the world that high reps and light weight is the way to a beautiful shape. That is flat-out incorrect! When women get “bulky” it’s not because their muscles are getting too big due to training “heavy,” it is because the lean and toned muscles developed from a properly designed resistance training program are hiding under too many layers of fat! Therefore, remove the fat and reveal the muscle!
And for those of you who are consistently in the gym and are still looking for more improvements, look in your refrigerator, on your dinner table or at the menu of your favorite restaurant and begin to change what you see there. I guarantee, when you do, you’ll soon change what you see in your mirror and what’s hiding under the excess fat.