Exercise Times

September 6, 2022

A Little Dab Will Do You

New research shows shorter, frequent workouts may benefit you more than one monster exercise session.
And that trying to "make up" time in the gym? It may not matter.
What To Know

New Study:

  • Edith Cowan University in Western Australia, collaborating with Niigata University and Nishi Kyushu University in Japan.
  • Four-week study of 36 young adults divided into 3 groups; all performed resistance training (the equivalent of bicep curls).
  • One group did six reps 5 days a week (with two days off), one group did 30 reps all in one day once a week, and the final group completed 6 reps in one day, once a week.
  • The research team measured changes in muscle thickness and strength.
“People think they have to do a lengthy session of resistance training in the gym, but that’s not the case."

Exercise and Sports Science Professor Ken Nosaka, who helped lead the study, on the key takeaways of his research. Those with lower repetitions more regularly saw greater strength and muscle growth vs. those who did one longer, more intense workout with higher reps. Professor Nosaka said this research shows trying to “make up” for missed workouts with longer workouts (trying to get more minutes in the gym) isn’t as effective as small movements more frequently.

Why It Matters:

  • Adjusting Expectations: Professor Nosaka says daily, rather than weekly, goals may lead to better results & create muscle growth that helps decrease rates of other health issues (such as cardiovascular disease).
  • Importance of Rest: When asked why more frequent, less intense exercise created better results, Prof. Nosaka said rest may be the key; muscles need rest to adapt, and keeping the brain and body fresh appears to elict better results vs. a longer session where the brain cues muscles to work to longer/harder.

The researchers limited this to biceps, but believe other muscle groups would show similar results.

The CDC says less than 1 in 4 Americans get the recommended daily amounts of strengthening and aerobic exercise. Repeated research shows exercise reduces the potential for severe impact of infection and disease, including COVID-19.

Data from the CDC on Exercise or Physical Activity

Press Release on the Study: Exercise answer: Research shows it’s how often you do it, not how much

Here’s the study: Greater effects by performing a small number of eccentric contractions daily than a larger number of them once a week (Wiley Online Library)

Here’s how often you should exercise (The Hill)

2.5 hours of moderate exercise per week linked to reduced risk of COVID-19 (Medical News Today)

by Jenna Lee,