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“I don’t have time to add strengthening exercises to my week”. Sound familiar? I

completely get it. Our time is precious and the free time we have we want to be out on the roads and trails. I’m the first to admit when I’m sacrificing a session, my first thought goes to my strength session. I think this is because we make things so hard for ourselves. We programme exercises which if we followed correctly, ensuring we have enough rest in between, could take us well over an hour, again - guilty!

Is it we choose to do more strength exercises as we feel it will lead to maximal benefits? On the contrary to this, there has been evidence which suggests that training for 13minutes 3 days a week has similar muscle strength gains equal to that achieved when training with a fivefold greater time commitment over an 8 week period (Schoenfeld et al., 2019). So rather than our hour of training once or twice a week, reducing rest times and rushing sets - we could actually be doing 13 minutes 3 times a week and equal the strength benefits. This is how I’ve started looking at strength training with clients. Great if you have time for more, but actually if you’re tight on time - you don’t have to sacrifice strength gains - just simplify it.

Increasing load.

During the study the participants were lifting 8-12 repetitions to the point of concentric failure. Ultimately, lifting a weight that they could manage for 8 -12 repetitions however wouldn’t be able to do any more repetitions that this. The way I get people to think of it at home is - when you are performing an exercise and you reach 12reps, could you do another 5 or maybe just manage to squeeze out 1 or 2 more. The latter is what we are aiming for - that’s near your 12 rep max. Each week monitor to see if you need to increase your load to ensure maximal strength gains.

Quality over quantity.

Are the exercises you’re doing actually activating the muscles you are intending them too? For example there have been multiple studies looking at glute activation. Which exercise do you think came out on top for gluteus Maximus activation? A forward step up provided the highest maximum isometric contraction compared to a plank which has the lowest isometric glute max contraction (Reiman et al., 2012). So maybe if rather than giving ourselves a huge variety of exercises, we choose the highest quality exercise for what we are trying to achieve.

This scratches the surface on this topic and I hope it provides you with an insight of how we can employ strategies to provide maximum benefit with less time. I will be running Physiotherapy clinics at Kinetic Sports if you are looking to delve in to your strength training further or would like to book in for an assessment to help guide your exercises.

Here’s to simplifying our strengthening and still reaping the rewards!

Emma Howe - Physiotherapist

Schoenfeld, B., Contreras, B., Krieger, J., Grgic, J., Delcastillo, K., Belliard, R., and Alto, A. (2019) Resistance training volume enhances muscle hypertrophy but not strength in trained men. Medicine and science in sport exercise. 51 (1), pp. 94-103Reiman, M., Bolgla, L., and Loudon, J. A literature review of studies evaluating gluteus maximus and gluteus medius activation during rehabilitation exercises. Physiotherapy theory and practice. 28 (4), pp. 257-268

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