The study concluded that it’s better to break up your workout over the course of the week, rather than perform it all at once.

Everyone agrees that exercising is essential, but should you do it at least once a week or just a few minutes every day?

Do I need to exercise for longer than each week or just maybe a little every day?

This is a problem that many people who are health conscious have to face, but a new study by Edith Cowan University (ECU) offers an answer. The study suggests that an hour or two of activity every day may be the most effective method, at the very least, to increase your muscular strength. It’s also a good sign that you don’t have to put in an enormous amount of effort each day.

In a four-week study that was conducted in collaboration together with Niigata University and Nishi Kyushu University in Japan The three groups each did an arm strength exercise. The improvements in endurance and thickness were assessed and measured and compared.

The exercise consisted of “maximal voluntary eccentric Bicep contractions” on a machine which measures the strength of your muscles during each muscle movement you perform in the fitness center. An eccentric contraction occurs where the muscle is stretched out; for example, in the case of the bosom curl, this could be comparable to dropping the weight of a huge dumbbell.

Edith Cowan University Exercise and Sports Science Professor Ken Nosaka. Credit: Edith Cowan University

One group did six contractions per day, for five days in every week (6×5 group) The other group crammed all the 30 in one day, twice every week (30×1 group). Both groups had 30 contractions each week. A different group only performed six contractions every week.

In the course of four weeks, those that was doing 30 contractions a day didn’t show any increase in muscle strength however, the thickness of muscle (a indication of growing the size of muscles) increased by 5.8 percent. The strength of the muscles and thickness didn’t change with the group performing six repetitions per week. The 6×5 group experienced similar gains in the thickness of muscles as the 30×1 group. They also saw significant increases in strength of over 10%..

Frequency, not volume

In addition, the improvement in muscle strength in the group 6×5 was similar to that of the group from the previous study, which did just one maximal eccentric contraction every day, five days per each week over four weeks.

ECU Exercise and Sports Science Professor Ken Nosaka said these studies continue to show that moderate amounts of daily exercise could affect people’s physical strength.

“People think that they need to perform a long session of strength training at the gym, however this isn’t the case,” he said. “Just dropping a heavy dumbbell slowly a few times throughout the day is enough.”

Professor Nosaka stated that while the study did require participants to work to their limits The initial findings from the ongoing research suggest similar results can be achieved without having to push to the limit.

“We only performed the bicep curl exercise for this study, however we think this could be the scenario for other muscles too at least to some amount,” he said.

“Muscle strength is essential for our overall health. This can help to prevent a diminution in strength and muscle mass as we age. The loss of muscles mass is the cause of a variety of chronic diseases, including cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes. certain cancers, dementia along with musculoskeletal disorders like osteoporosis.”

Retire and relax

It isn’t yet understood what exactly causes the body to respond more strongly to exercises that require eccentric contractions, in smaller amounts rather than larger loads that are performed more often.

Professor Nosaka suggested that it could be related to the frequency at which the brain is required to instruct a muscle in a certain way.

But, he also said it was equally crucial to incorporate rest into an exercise program.

“In this research, group 6×5 was given two days off each the week.” the researcher said.

“Muscle adaptations happen during rest; should someone be able to do some sort of training all day, there would not be any improvement whatsoever.

“Muscles require rest in order to build their strength as well as their strength, but they seem to prefer being stimulated more often.”

He also emphasized that if someone was not able to exercise for a certain amount of time that they were unable to exercise, there was no point making an effort to “make up” by an extended session later.

“If you’re sick and unable to train for the next week it’s okay, but it’s best to return to an exercise routine once you’re feeling more comfortable,” said the doctor.

Advice that is clear

The current Australian Government guidelines indicate that adults need to try to be active all day long and complete 2.5-5 hour of moderate physical activity each week.

Professor Nosaka suggested that there must be more focus on the importance of making exercising an ongoing activity rather than achieving an annual minute target.

“If you’re only attending the gym once per week isn’t as effective than doing a little exercising each day in your home” the trainer said.

“This study, along with our earlier study highlights the importance of doing only a little exercise every week, and then doing a few hours of exercise every week.

“We should be aware each muscle’s contraction is counted and it’s how often you do them that matters.”

Referred to as “Greater results by performing only a few eccentric contractions every day than performing a greater number of them every week” written by Riku Yoshida and Shigeru Sato. Kazuki Kasahara, Yuta Murakami, Fu Murakoshi, Kodai Aizawa, Ryoma Koizumi, Kazunori Nosaka, and Masatoshi Nakamura 31 July 2022 Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports.

DOI: 10.1111/sms.14220