Minimal time in the gym to keep strength?

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ninjackn
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Minimal time in the gym to keep strength?

Post by ninjackn » Thu Aug 13, 2009 11:09 am

What's the minimal amount of time (effort/volume/intensity/dollars/whatever the correct unit is) for a person to keep their strength? More ideally, continue to make strength gains (albeit slowly).

I realize that the answer is different from person to person but lets assume that the person in question has been working out for a few years and usually goes about 3 times a week for 30-45 minutes (okay, 1 hour if you include that time spent changing and what have you).

It seems like cutting back to 2 times a week would probably only slow down strength gains but would cutting back as much as once a week be sufficient?

Also of note is that some exercises would probably need to be done every other week, squatting and deadlifting in the same day sounds rather taxing on the spine.


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Post by stuward » Thu Aug 13, 2009 11:23 am

If you read "Body by Science" the author makes an argument that 1/2 hour once a week is all you need. Once in a while this may work but you will not maintain conditioning. Expect more DOMS training once a week. You also will not maintain the habit of regularily working out and you will be subject to scheduling issues. Missing a workout becomes a big deal when you only train once a week. It's not a big deal if you train 2-3 times a week.

Squating and deadlifting the same day actually works well if you balance it right. I like front squats paired with conventional squats and back squats paired with RDLs, squats always before the deadlifts.

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Post by caangelxox » Thu Aug 13, 2009 11:31 am

what are the pro's and cons of a upper/lower body split (each movement 2 times a week) and a full body 3 times a week?

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Post by TimD » Thu Aug 13, 2009 1:52 pm

It's like comparing apples to oranges. For upper/lower, you can do more exercises for each group than you normally would with a fullbody, and you get a bit more recuperation. Not a bad way to go. Full body, it's usually recommended to have 2 or more full body schedules for variety/conditioning and do on major move per group, with maybe some aux work thrown in if you have gas left over. Possibly a bit better for overall conditioning, but you just have to try both and decide which one you prefer and fills your needs best. Now, to throw a monkey wrench into the mix, ou could always try upper, lower, rest, full body, rest, rest, repeat.
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Post by Jungledoc » Thu Aug 13, 2009 4:03 pm

I'd guess once a week is the bare minimum for maintenance, twice a week for slow gains. I don't do well with less than 3. 4 would probably be better, but it doesn't work for me.


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Post by frogbyte » Thu Aug 13, 2009 4:42 pm

It seems weird to try to generalize like that.

If you want to maintain an extremely low level of physical health, then 0 is just fine.

If you want to maintain world-class strength, the number would be higher.

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Post by nygmen » Thu Aug 13, 2009 8:42 pm

Would it be "jerkish" of me to ask why you want to know?

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Post by ninjackn » Thu Aug 13, 2009 10:44 pm

nygmen wrote:Would it be "jerkish" of me to ask why you want to know?
Oh not at all, i'm a fairly open individual. In a few months I will be going to grad-school part time and working full time. As you can imagine that puts a tight squeeze on my schedule and as much as I like going to the gym 3 times a week, I know it's just not going to happen.

Overall it looks like I should aim for twice a week but not be afraid if I have to skip one every now and then (which will probably happen more often than I like).

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Post by stuward » Fri Aug 14, 2009 8:47 am

If you do decide to go just once a week, understand that those workouts should be brutally intense, based on basic compound movements, prefeably all of the big 6 (Squat, deadlift, Horzontal push & pull, vertical push & pull). You should be getting 20-30 reps of each with at least 60% of 1RM, and you should be significantly reduced in strength by the end of the workout.

What you will lose, is some conditioning and possible some explosiveness. You should be able to incorporate a few minutes of body weight exercises 2 or 3 times between gym visits to maintain conditioning. A few sprints and possibly some plyometric exercises will maintain your explosiveness. Throw in some spontaneous fun activities when you have an opportunity.

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Post by robertscott » Fri Aug 14, 2009 10:36 am

I only get time to train twice a week usually, so I split the big 6 stuward mentioned into two groups of 3 and do those. Say for example deadlift, row and bench on day 1, press, pull ups and squat on day 2. Seems to be enough, still make strength and size gains. Also do a few assistance exercises both days, usually Olympic variations or "beach muscle" work.

If i could though I'd do another day, i reckon if I had time for 3 days a week I'd be in much better shape

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Post by Ironman » Fri Aug 14, 2009 5:20 pm

I do 2 30 minute workouts per week to maintain. You need a little more than that to make gains.

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Post by nygmen » Fri Aug 14, 2009 5:21 pm

You know, I signed up at my current gym asking about their freeze policy fully expecting to not lift during February or March it being tax season, and me billing roughly 65 hours a week...

I still hit the gym.

You may surprise yourself. If you want it bad enough, you'll be able to hit it pretty hard with that schedule, and then be even more proud of your accomplishments.

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Post by caangelxox » Fri Aug 14, 2009 10:14 pm

are you guys saying that an upper body/lower body split increases strength gains slowly compared to a full body 3 times a week? What I want is fast strength gains, not slow. You said that training 2 times a week gives slow strength gains. I am doing monday/thursday, tuesday/friday

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Post by Matt Z » Fri Aug 14, 2009 10:30 pm

"are you guys saying that an upper body/lower body split increases strength gains slowly compared to a full body 3 times a week? What I want is fast strength gains, not slow. You said that training 2 times a week gives slow strength gains. I am doing monday/thursday, tuesday/friday" - caangelxox

This depends on many factors including training style and your present strength level. Novices often do well performing the same lift 2 or 3 times weekly. However, more advanced individuals generally need longer to recover between intense workouts.

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Post by caangelxox » Sat Aug 15, 2009 1:44 am

The only really intensed exercise I have in my routine are deadlifts. 1rm is 135. I tried to see what my 1 rm would be with RDL's, but my hamstrings didnt like me doing that. at 95lbs trying to do like 8-10 reps, it put too much pressure on the area in the back of my knee instead of my hamstrings. I feel a stretch and then I feel something in the back of my knee trying to work as well and I dont think it should. For the RDLs, I think I need to go lighter.


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