Frequency vs. Duration: How to Optimize a Workout

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Getting a caveman body means more than logging serious gym hours; it requires making the best use of the time put in.

When optimizing a workout, you need to concentrate on not only how often to exercise, but how long each workout lasts. The key to success is moderation. Working until exhaustion without any recovery can lead to injuries and no increases in muscle growth.

At the very minimum, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends 20 to 60 minutes of continuous or intermittent activity. This means that you can break up your workouts in shorter sessions, as little as three 10-minute mini-workouts, and still get the same benefits of working out for 30 minutes non-stop. It is also recommended by the ACSM to exercise from three to five days weekly.

Beginner Conditioning

Conditioning is an important part of optimizing a workout. Out of shape? Doing 30 minutes of high-intensity exercise five days per week is not the best plan of action.

For the first four weeks, if you have not been conditioning for some time, workouts should be approximately 20 minutes long and done three times weekly. Once your body has begun to bounce back, you can add on 10 minutes and increase frequency to five days weekly. You can stay at this phase for as long as three to six months before deciding to up the ante and work out for 45 minutes or longer for five days weekly.

Schedule Time Off

Although it may seem to go against getting in shape, working out daily is not to your best advantage. Your body has to rest and recuperate, so taking regular time off is the way to optimize your workout schedule.

At the very minimum, you need one day off per week from exercise altogether. As long as you’re in good physical condition, you should aim to exercise four to five days per week.

Muscle repair is an essential part of strength training. Under no circumstance should you work the same muscle group on consecutive days. Instead, you should have a day off between sessions. Although you can lift on back-to-back days, concentrate on specific muscle groups. For example, work arms and shoulders one day, and legs and abdominals the next.

Intensity and Duration

To determine how long to work out, you should monitor the intensity of each exercise session. If you’re doing low-intensity exercise for 30 minutes, that is likely not to be enough to meet your fitness goals.

One way to help optimize your workouts and decide on duration is to monitor calorie expenditure. According to the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, a minimal threshold you should meet for each workout sessions is an expenditure of 300 kcal.

As far as strength training, you should use your body as a guide to deciding on the intensity. For each move, you should have a rep count of 10 to 12. The weight should be heavy enough that you find the last two reps nearly impossible to complete. A total of 8 to 10 exercises should be done per session.

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Miko Cavemen

MIKO is a vigorous young man who can be very clever… with a spear!

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