How Much Time For Fitness? Intensity Trumps Everything
By Marty Gallagher
What's the minimum weekly time investment you can slide by with and still make gains? I would say six cumulative hours. Six times sixty is 360 minutes and this amount of time would allow for three 60-minute weight training sessions and six 30-minute cardio sessions per week. Assuming you had a serious dietary effort in place, assuming the training was smart, primitive and intense, assuming you were a relatively untrained individual (experienced athletes would find six cumulative hours weekly a plausible maintenance regimen) I could about guarantee that you would make gains with a six hour weekly time investment.
At some point, as with every training program, the gains would cease and you would have to reshuffle the deck BUT the answer to fixing the stagnation might not lie in extending or increasing the amount of time devoted to fitness. Just because gains cease using a six hour regimen does not automatically mean the solution is to train more - the remedy could be to train smarter (change the routine) or harder (generate more intensity) within the allotted six hour timeframe. Folks who train real hard and real intense and don't mess around don't need a lot of gym time. In my opinion, when it comes to triggering progressive resistance gains, intensity trumps everything! By training super hard we don't have to spend hours in the gym.
Home training can reduce the amount of time needed to mount a serious effort even further by eliminating travel time. The commute to and from the commercial fitness establishment takes time and gas. Even when I belonged to clubs and gyms, I always had a flat bench, a set of weights and some adjustable dumbbells lying around at home. Those pressed for time who train at home can slip in sets of curls or overhead presses, shrugs or bent over rows, calf raises or lateral raises, all while discharging household duties. You would be amazed how many sets of presses or curls or tricep presses a person can get in between yard work, dishes, vacuuming, straightening up or watching the news. I used to make myself do a set to failure in a particular exercise while watching football on TV. I might pick the standing overhead press with a set of 70's.
Every time I got up for any reason during the football game I would walk to the laundry room and rep to failure using the solid dumbbells. Walk into the room, clean them to my shoulders and ram them overhead as many times as possible. Then continue on with whatever it was I was doing
About The Author
Marty Gallagher is a former fitness columnist for washingtonpost.com. Marty's work has been featured in magazines such as Muscle