Getting Stronger Takes Effort... But Not a Lot of Time

The uninitiated are often skeptical when they hear that most Persevera members achieve outstanding results by training with us for only thirty or sixty minutes per week. They wonder how it is possible that our members consistently build strength and increase endurance in such little time.

Of course, the best way to test the effectiveness and efficiency of our training programs is to experience Persevera firsthand. But if you are the type of person who likes to review scientific evidence before trying out new fitness regimens, a new study, whose findings were published last month in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise and were reported on by The New York Times, may be of particular interest to you.

The Study

Under the study, thirty-four healthy men with prior resistance training experience all performed seven common strength exercises, including bench press, lateral pull-down and leg press, three times per week. But the participants were randomly assigned to one of three experimental groups:

  • A low-volume group, in which participants performed only one set per exercise per training session (for participants in this group, the time required per training session was about thirteen minutes, or thirty-nine minutes per week);

  • A moderate-volume group, in which participants performed three sets per exercise per training session (in this group, the time required per training session was about forty minutes, or about two hours per week); and

  • A high-volume group, in which participants performed five sets per exercise per training session (in this group, the time required per training session was about seventy minutes, or about three and a half hours per week).

Participants in each group trained on non-consecutive days for a period of eight weeks, with the goal of evaluating muscular adaptations between these low-, moderate-, and high-volume resistance training protocols.

The study’s results showed significant increases in strength and endurance in all three groups over the eight-week period, with no significant differences among them. But, while all groups increased muscle size in most of the measured sites by the end of the eight-week period, significant increases favoring the higher volume workouts were seen for certain muscle measurements.

The researchers concluded that marked increases in strength and endurance can be attained by resistance-trained individuals with just three, thirteen-minute weekly sessions over an eight-week period, and that such gains are similar to those that can be achieved with a substantially greater time commitment. They further concluded that muscle hypertrophy, or the increase in muscle volume, can be greater at higher training volumes. These two conclusions, taken together, lead to a result that may be surprising to some: muscle size is not necessarily indicative of muscle strength.

Two points are worth highlighting. First, the participants in this study were not unfit or inexperienced in strength training, a group for which even less effective training protocols can initially be expected to have some positive effects. Rather, the study describes the participants as healthy men with some experience in resistance training. Second, the participants in the study trained to momentary exhaustion; that is, by the end of each set, the participants had pushed themselves to momentary failure such that they were unable to complete another rep without resting. Such a method will resonate with Persevera members, who similarly use precision, effort and intensity to push themselves, when appropriate for their fitness levels and objectives, to failure or near-failure.

The Importance of Customization

While the results of the study support the effectiveness of shorter workouts—a notion that Persevera’s founders have been espousing for over three decades—the conclusion that greater muscle volume can be achieved through higher-volume workouts also highlights the importance of tailoring training protocols to meet the objectives of each of our individual members. A desire for greater muscle mass, whether it be to burn more calories while active or at rest, to increase insulin sensitivity, or simply for the sake of appearance, is one possible reason why a few of our members do indeed train with us for more than sixty minutes per week.

Next Steps

If the study sounds convincing to you, contact us to schedule an introductory consultation and training session. There, you’ll tell us about your overall levels of health and fitness, your goals and your scheduling limitations. We’ll then design a training regimen for you that will be effective, and as importantly, won’t waste one precious minute of your time.