hough some people really look forward to and enjoy their workouts, some find working out a chore. If you find your workouts a bit of a chore, you’ll be interested in a new military-led study whose findings were recently published in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research. This study sought to answer perhaps the single biggest question for those who don’t necessarily look forward to their workouts. “What is the bare minimum amount of exercise I need to do to keep ‘fit?'”
The study found that cardiovascular workouts should be done at least twice a week. The length of the workout depends on your intensity. At a heart rate of 80% or higher of your maximum (high intensity), a total of 80 minutes works (i.e., 40 minutes twice a week). If you push yourself a little less hard, you will need 150 minutes at a heart rate of 60% of your maximum (i.e., two 75-minute sessions). These guidelines are exactly in line with current American Heart Association Guidelines for maintain cardiovascular fitness.
Remember maximal heart rate is calculated as 220 minus your age. So, for a 50-year-old person a high intensity workout would be about 135 beats per minute, and a low intensity would be about 105 beats per minute.)
Resistance Workouts (weights, weight machines, Pilates, body weight, bands, etc.)
Strength and muscle size can be maintained in younger and middle-aged adults with a full body resistance training workout twice per week. (Older individuals may require an additional day per week.) Intensity (weight load) should be at a level to just cause a little muscle soreness the next day.
A typical standard workout consists of 12 exercises, with three sets of each (36 total sets). Repetitions usually are between 8 and 12 “reps”. So, the amount of weight used generally is the amount that can be lifted with moderate or slightly more than moderate effort 8 to 12 times.
For resistance training three other items should be considered:
If a person has not lifted before, they need instruction and guidance to avoid injury. Starting at lighter weights (maybe 15 reps) and then progressing to heavier weights is preferred. A personal trainer, for at least several initial sessions, should be considered.
Once you have the routine down, the workout should be able to be accomplished in between 60 and 75 minutes.
The permutations of weight workouts are nearly endless (full body day vs. days with selected muscle groups; higher weight, lower reps; different types of exercises rotated into the workout, etc., etc.). It is important to get a routine down to start, but then vary it over time to avoid monotony.
According to a new military-led study in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, a person can maintain a high level of physical fitness with about 4 workouts a week. Total time spent in training each week can be less than four hours.
Even for those individuals who do not look forward to their workout, the price of four hours a week seems a small cost to pay for optimal current health, and the likelihood of better future health.