Jan 19, 2021
Should you strength train more often? That is the question.
It is not the strength training activity, it is the result of proper strength training that increases lean muscle, decreases fat, and therefore improves body composition.
A question from Cary in our community, “If strength training does more to improve fat loss shouldn’t we strength train more often?” That is such a logical thoughtful question.
So, it’s important you realize it is not the 10, 20, or 40 minutes you spend strength training per session that improves fat loss, lean muscle loss prevention, and therefore body composition.
Proper strength training follows this formula:
Adequate stimulus during the strength training session + adequate recovery after a session = Positive anabolic muscle response
What is adequate stimulus during the strength training session?
lower rep range or lighter weight and higher rep range
What is adequate recovery following a strength training session?
The purpose of all of the following is to improve anabolism, that is repair and rebuilding of the muscle following the act of breakdown during the workout. During exercise of any kind the muscles experience stress and microtears. When the body recovers it doesn’t just repair to original state, it overcompensates to be prepared for the next stress (workout).
If you’ve ever trained for a 5k you’ve experienced this. When you start, you’re not able to complete more than a mile. Then over time you can gradually do more and more, until you’re able to do the entire 3.1 miles. Or you’ve started a weightlifting routine and you’re using a 5 lb weight, and a few weeks later you realize you’re never tired at the end of a set and you need a heavier weight.
Three big components of adequate recovery:
A caloric deficit may be created because of activity, because of reduced calories and activity, or reduced calories – however during times of stress – from menopause, loss of sleep, stressful life situations, careful adherence to abundant micronutrient dense foods instead strict calorie deficit is the better goal
Protein needs increase with age due to muscle protein synthesis decline. On a per meal basis, 30-40 grams of high-quality protein at breakfast and again at dinner (or slightly higher at dinner) along with a modest protein midday meal support muscle protein synthesis.
Prime Time for Boosting Lean Muscle
The 24 hours following strength training muscle protein synthesis is boosted, making it a prime time to increase protein intake slightly over other days of the week. In fact cycling protein intake over the weeks of the month if you’re still experiencing a cycle or you’re in menopause can improve your body composition significantly. The type of training you do and the protein you consume both together have dramatically improved results for many women, even in their 60s.
Without adequate rest anabolism will not be allowed to happen. Without enough time between coming back to the muscles again with a hard workout the repair can’t happen.
Imagine having the flu. You’re a busy person and when you start feeling better you get back into your regular routine to find yourself having to sit down after you take a shower and get ready, or maybe you make it until noon on your first day back and realize you’ve overdone it and wind up back in bed again. Your muscle, without the full recovery will experience more muscle wasting than repair and you may be losing muscle even while you’re exercising regularly.
Review What Happens If You Strength Train More Often
To sum it up, recovery included not only the time between sessions, but the time between sets of exercise in a workout, and requires consideration of your nutrition, your life stressors, and quality of sleep – the ultimate rest.
Strength training at a frequency of twice a week to muscle overload that causes temporary muscle fatigue, allows 72 hours between for recovery, and fits easily into most busy women’s schedules. It also allows the energy and desire for more movement in every day that ultimately prevents obesity more than a frequent exercise schedule that leads to couch compensation.
What does work? Adding a third - functional workout - in the middle of two heavier sessions.
There you have it, my answer to should you strength train more often?
Who Is “Most Fit?”
It is that woman who has the energy to play golf, clean the house, entertain grandchildren at the park or learn to dance or SUP that ultimately spends far more calories than an exerciser who sits all day with no energy or too sore to do more.
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