“Is it worth exercising only once a week? Why waste time and put your body at risk by doing such infrequent shake-ups?” are questions that can often be heard. There are so-called “weekend warriors” who buy a weekend pass and try to make up for all the training missed during the week by doing 3-4 hours in a row. Is this the right thing to do?

It turns out that there are health benefits in the occasional intensive workout, too.

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One high-intensity workout a week is comparable to three medium-intensity workouts

In January 2020, a fresh study was published in the US journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. Experts at the University of Hong Kong compared the effects on the body of continuous moderate-intensity training (CIT) – essentially traditional “cardio” and high-intensity interval training (HIT), depending on the number of workouts per week.

The participants in the experiment were divided into 4 groups:

  1. control group – did not train;
  2. they exercised 3 times a week;
  3. they exercised 2 times a week
  4. trained once a week.

At the beginning of the study, researchers measured aerobic capacity, body composition, blood pressure, resting heart rate (HR), vascular function, fasting glucose level, fasting insulin level and other parameters.

Experiments have shown that even one high-intensity interval training session per week produces significant improvements in aerobic fitness, body composition and blood pressure in overweight or obese adult men.

The effect of one high-intensity interval training session (HITT) is comparable to three moderate-intensity interval training sessions (MITT).

It is important to bear in mind, however, that the study protocol involved 11 minute intervals at an intensity of 95% of maximum HR with periods of moderate exertion in between. In other words, even this relatively short workout has a noticeable positive effect on many body systems. This is a good scientific argument against the opinion that you should either train 3-4 times a week or not train at all.

The benefits of prolonged exercise

However, this isn’t a reason to switch solely to VYIT. Long-term exercise also has benefits. For example, when you do prolonged physical activity, your joints secrete fluid. When joints provide themselves with lubrication, they improve their mobility and condition in general.

Prolonged exertion promotes the release of nitric oxide, which protects blood vessels from atherosclerosis.

Vertical axial exertion (while running or aerobic exercise) helps nourish the intervertebral discs, whose function is to connect the individual vertebral bodies, to be part of the joints between the vertebral bodies, and to carry the weight of the whole body.

The upshot is that you can work out once a week as well as three times a week. If you have little free time, exercising once can be effective. Regular exercise can also be detrimental to the body if you overdo it and do the exercise without observing the technique.


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