It’s the call of HIT: “30 minutes, once a week!” And it’s true. Many of the benefits of exercise can be derived from as few as one 30-minute high intensity training session per week. How is this possible? It’s all about recovery.
Recovery is perhaps the most important part of your training. Once the stimulus of exercise is done, muscle begins the adaptive process of recovering lost strength and getting even stronger. This is an growth process in which a whole chemical plant of good biology is unleashed benefiting every cell in the human body. This process takes time and occurs best with rest. Interrupting it with more resistance exercise only further weakens muscle tissue and stops the flow of exercise benefits.
So if recovery is so important, why not “recover” longer, train once or twice a month? One week is the average time it takes to fully recover from a high intensity training session. This may include a couple of post-recovery “grace” days before another HIT session becomes necessary to continue the pace of growth and benefits. This is the moment when your body is ripe for another “hit”.
Obviously the more intense the training, the more muscle is inroaded, and the longer it takes for recovery. Some lesser intense sessions can take as little as 2-3 days for recovery such as those of a new trainee or someone with a physical liability. So it can be appropriate for some to train twice a week if they choose (every 3-4 days), at least for a while. A few folks, like those who have been training for several years and are capable of training at a very high level of intensity, can take as long as 9 or 10 days to recover. For most of the rest of us recovery is somewhere in between (4-6 days). Since once a week fits nicely into most schedules, and since most folks don’t need to “fast track” their fitness, seven days is the HIT norm.
Furthermore, the regularity of once a week sessions allows a trainer to understand the individual recovery pace of the client and plan workouts that will garner the greatest gains. It’s not necessary to set a weekly training day, and in fact there can be disadvantages. But for many of us in the real world, it’s a pace that works with our schedules.
So for the vast majority, a once a week session is not a goal or a suggestion. It means that, at a minimum, training once a week is necessary to keep all of the benefits of strength training flowing. If you’re training session takes only 3-4 days of recovery, you’re session on the seventh day comes just in time to keep pace. And that’s really the bottom line: the best pace for progression.
If you have any questions about this or any other aspects of your training, don’t hesitate to ask your Crescent City Strength Trainer!