Does a One Day a Week Workout Work?

By Dr Kristie Leong

One of the most common reasons people give for not working out is lack of time. What if you can only fit in a workout once a week, say on the weekends – but you still want to build strength and lean body mass? Does a one day a week workout have any real benefit?

Is a One Day a Week Workout Effective?

Most experts recommend working out at least three days a week to build maximal strength and endurance. This involves doing both aerobic and strength building exercises - focusing on different body parts each session. This is easy to do using interval training where you alternate back and forth between strength training moves and cardio. People who have the time to workout five days a week have the option of doing cardio and strength training on alternate days.

So how can you do a one day a week workout and does it offer any benefits? Orthopedists at the University of Florida have developed a system they say allows a person to build strength and lean body mass using a one day a week workout. The key is to do eccentric weight training – a form of negative resistance training.

What is Eccentric Weight Training?

When you do a biceps curl, you flex your arms to lift the weight upward. This is known as the concentric portion of the curl since you’re lifting a weight against gravity. When you lower the weight back down, you don’t just let it fall; you resist the pull of gravity and bring it down slowly. This is the eccentric part of the movement.

Many fitness experts believe that eccentric weight training builds greater muscle strength in less time. A person can handle a greater load when lowering a weight than they can during the lifting phase. By emphasizing the eccentric portion of the movement and using as much load as possible, muscle strength can be built with less time spent in the gym.

Eccentric Weight Training Exercises

University of Florida Orthopedists designed special strength training equipment that adds additional weight during the eccentric portion of the movement. A person using this equipment would be handling greater weight during the eccentric or lowering phase than during the lifting phase. The doctors say the key is to do one set, but completely exhaust the muscle. They claim by doing this, you can do a one day a week workout and still build strength and lean body mass.

What if you don’t have access to this special equipment? You can get a similar eccentric weight training effect by lifting a weight using both arms and then lowering it using a single arm. This doubles the resistance the muscles are forced to deal with during the eccentric phase. The weight should be lowered slowly over a time period of four seconds. Most people need a spotter to do this safely.

Because eccentric weight training causes more breakdown of muscle fiber, the recovery period needs to be longer – anywhere from four to seven days before working the same body part again. This means you can visit the gym only once a week and still see strength gains. Prepare to be sore when you first start out. Eccentric training exercises challenge the muscles more and you’ll feel it for a few days afterwards.

One Day a Week Workout: The Bottom Line?

Can you build strength doing a one day a week workout? Eccentric weight training is intense, but allows you to spend less time in the gym. On the other hand, you won’t get much of a cardiovascular workout using this method which is why a three day a week workout is better for overall fitness.

References:

Ivanhoe.com website. “1 Workout a Week”

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3 Responses to Does a One Day a Week Workout Work?

  1. veer vaidya says:

    is it good for lean body to do eccentric weight training exercizes everyday???

  2. K. says:

    I think one time is not really enough.

  3. Anonymous says:

    nice post. thanks.

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