Short on time? Do shorter workouts! Sound appealing? Short, more frequent workouts can be as effective as longer workouts for strong bones!
I’m often asked, “Can I do shorter workouts if I don’t have time for a full strength training workout?”
The answer is, yes! You don’t have to do the whole workout at once to get the total benefit. BUT! There’s a catch. It’s important to split it up the right way if you can’t find the time for 2 full strength training workouts a week.
Work One Specific Major Muscle Group Each Day
To get the most out of your strength training and not turn it into an ineffective 15 minute “toning” routine, pick between arms, legs, or core only, in one workout. Doing all of the legs one day, arms the next, and core (back and abs) on the third day takes those areas of the body more towards fatigue than if you did one or two each of arms, abs, legs, and back. That fatigue is good because it stimulates the muscles to go through muscle hypertrophy and is the reason why you’ll be stronger your next strength training session. It’s a bit of exercise magic!
Go for Muscle Hypertrophy
Not using our muscles causes atrophy. What we’re going for with strength training is the opposite of atrophy, muscle hypertrophy. It occurs when you work a muscle a little harder that it’s used to, giving it a bit of an overload. This sets in motion a chain of events. Your muscle cells go through a revved up version of renewal, breaking down on the molecular level and then rebuilding themselves stronger. If you only do one or two exercises for each muscle group during your short workout, you won’t be working them long enough or hard enough to create enough of an overload for your muscles or bones.
Make It Progressive
We’re familiar with the term strength training, but technically, it’s actually called progressive strength training. When the weights you lifted or moves you did in your previous workout eventually gets easy, then it’s time to raise the intensity and lift a heavier weight or do a more challenging move. Your bones and muscles will benefit from the increased intensity. With short or long workouts, be aware if your weights or the exercises have become too easy so you can adapt accordingly.
Your Goal: A “Ceiling”
Through your weeks, months, and years of strength training, gradually increase the weights until you reach your ceiling where you can’t safely lift a heavier weight nor do more repetitions. That is a fine level to maintain for keeping your muscles and bones fit. As long as you get the equivalent of 2 full workouts a week, in shorter segments, you’ll still make good progress toward your goal.
Keep It Varied
Our skeletons respond well to variation, so once you get to that maintenance level, be sure to vary your workout, alternating between weights and resistance bands.
Effect on Bones
Keep your strength training progressive and varied, with short and long workouts, so that your skeleton pays attention to its job of supporting the soft tissues of the body. We’d be a big blob without our skeleton! Strength training for our muscles is truly strength training for our bones as well. It’s a reminder through exercise, nudging both muscles and bones towards the high level of strength that we want them to keep. Muscles and bones will cooperate, but we need to be the ones to initiate and continue the stimulus through regular strength training.
In my next blog post, I’ll give you more details on how to divide the workouts in my DVDs into shorter segments. To start with, be sure to always do a warm-up before any short workout. It’s very important! I’ll answer specific questions you might have about shorter workouts, so be sure to ask them in the comment section below.