"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Can you actually drop extra pounds with two training sessions per week?

March 6, 2024 – It turns on the market could be something to the “weekend warrior” mentality in any case.

A recent one study suggested that concentrating all of your training into just 1 or 2 days could be just pretty much as good for fat loss as spreading it out over the week.

Research is backed by increasing evidence that the weekend warrior exercise pattern can profit your health. A Study 2023 of nearly 90,000 people found that weekend warriors were less prone to suffer a heart attack, stroke or heart failure than inactive people. Another study of nearly 351,000 adults found no difference in the chance of early death between weekend exercisers and those that exercised three or more times per week.

The latest study was the primary to look at the weekend warrior pattern and body fat percentage measured using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA scan).

“In [our] “In our fast-paced society, we are interested in exploring alternatives to stay fit for individuals who cannot meet the recommended frequency,” said study author Lihua Zhang, MD, PhD, a health scientist at the National Center for Cardiovascular Diseases Fuwai Hospital in Beijing.

Using the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), Zhang and colleagues analyzed data from 9,600 people. About 4,000 said they exercised at least 150 minutes a week – the minimum amount of exercise recommended for adults. Most spread it out over three or more days, but 772 people, the weekend warriors, packed it all up in just a day or two.

Both groups – the weekend exercisers and those who exercise more often – had less belly fat, a smaller waist, a lower body mass index and less body fat than people who didn't exercise regularly. And both groups were approximately the same despite differences in training frequency.

The results lasted regardless of diet. “Regardless of whether someone ate a healthy eating regimen or not, being a weekend warrior was still related to lower adiposity,” or body fat, Zhang said.

Exercise and weight loss

This may come as a surprise to most people Research points out that exercise alone plays a relatively small role in weight loss. (Although there is evidence that exercise may be important Maintenance body weight.) In studies demonstrating exercise-induced weight loss, the amount of activity is typically substantial and the intensity is high.

In general, public health guidelines at least advise this 300 minutes moderate to vigorous exercise per week to lose weight. Even then, the results may not be dramatic: A Analysis 2022 Of 25 studies concluded that at least three months of regular aerobic exercise resulted in a “modest” reduction in waist circumference of just over 1 inch in adults who were overweight or obese.

The weekend athletes in the current study actually trained harder and longer than those who trained all week. In fact, they trained for an average of 147.6 minutes per session – well over 2 hours straight.

This part is key. In this and other studies, weekend athletes by definition meet or exceed recommended training levels. You can just do it over fewer days.

“We don’t know that it’s the weekend pattern per se “That's what accounts for the outcomes, not simply comparing 150 minutes gathered in two versus three or more exercise sessions with the identical weekly total,” said Peter Hall, PhD, a professor of public health at the University of Waterloo, Ontario.

Another caveat is the study design. “This is a cross-sectional study, and the researchers examined associations between the type of exercise patterns and obesity outcomes,” said Alexandra van den Berg, PhD, professor of health promotion and behavioral sciences at the University of Texas. “This study design does not allow testing of causal relationships.”

That is, practice was linked to reduce body weight – but we can't say this exercise for sure caused a lower body weight. Additionally, as part of the NHANES data, people were only surveyed once and were not tracked over time. The study authors acknowledge this limitation in their work, stating that they “cannot explain changes over time or the causal relationship between physical activity patterns and body fat reduction.”

Also keep in mind that the weekend warriors tended to be younger than the other groups. Their average age was 35.9 years, while those who exercised throughout the week had an average age of 37.5 years and those in the inactive group averaged 40.5 years.

The weekend warriors “can have been healthier than the standard exercise group and the control group at baseline,” said Kimberley Dawson, PhD, a professor of sport and exercise psychology at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario. “So they didn’t need as much activity to make a difference.”

Nevertheless, the study authors assume that there could be more to it: Long weekend workouts could have a different effect on the body than more traditional training patterns. Previous studies have shown that short-term exercise can increase blood levels of stress hormones called catecholamines and increase blood flow to fatty tissue, which could help the body burn more fat.

But not everyone agrees with this. “It's not exercise that improves our health, it's lack of exercise that decreases it,” Dawson said. “Sitting for five days and moving for two days does not reduce sedentary behavior enough to produce physiological effects of exercise.”

At the same time, reducing training frequency could increase the risk of injury, warned Zhang. A Study 2014 found that of 351 adults who suffered a serious injury, 55% were injured over the weekend, while 45% were injured between Monday and Friday. The authors suggest that a lack of experience and fitness could be to blame, or it could be something more People engage in riskier sports On days when they don't have work.

What this means for you

If you want to lose weight with exercise, aim for 60 to 90 minutes of moderate physical activity most days – the right amount recommended for weight loss.

Remember that not everything has to be done at once; For example, you could do 20- to 30-minute workouts three times a day.

Also consider monitoring your diet. Research shows that the weight loss plans that work best combine better nutrition with an increase in physical activity.

If you can only exercise on weekends, you should expect to exercise long and intensely during those sessions if you want to lose weight. (They aren't called “warriors” for nothing!)

“I would prefer that people exercise as much as possible during the week and exercise longer on the weekend when their schedule allows,” Dawson said. “From a behavior change perspective, this approach will result in sustainable activity changes.”

And regardless of when you plan to exercise, it may be useful to measure your weight expectations. People tend to get discouraged when they actually lose weight falls too short of their hopes. Instead, concentrate on improving your quality of life and the health advantages – you'll reap the advantages And a more powerful body, even when the scales don't budge.