Frequency of exercise, not intensity, provides the most benefit

Frequency of exercise, not intensity, provides the most benefit

For those who exercise, it’s an age-old question: Is it better to work out a bit every day or go harder a few times a week?

Now, researchers at two universities in Japan have an answer: When it comes to muscle strength, more frequent exercise is better. And while mustering the motivation to work out every day can be challenging; the study also has a dose of good news: Daily workouts don’t have to be high intensity to be beneficial.

The scientists’ findings came after having three groups of participants perform arm-resistance exercises. Their changes in muscle thickness and strength were measured and compared.

Two groups performed 30 maximum bicep contractions on a machine that was similar to gym equipment. One group did six contractions a day for five days a week. The other group did all 30 contractions on a single day once per week. The third group only performed six bicep contractions one day a week.

After four weeks, the people who packed all 30 contractions into a single day had about 6% more muscle thickness but no additional muscle strength. The group that did fewer repetitions five days per week had a similar increase in muscle thickness but also improved their muscle strength more than 10%.

The researchers say the findings, along with other results from an earlier study, make two important points: When done regularly, even modest amounts of exercise can have a real effect on muscle strength. Likewise, a long and intense session of resistance training in the gym may not be as effective as some people think.

So be dedicated to a consistent exercise routine but know there may be less benefit to pushing yourself to the limit.


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