Are Weekend Warrior Workouts Enough?

Some fitness enthusiasts say you can meet all your fitness goals by exercising only two days per week. Others say that puts too much stress on underused muscles and sets them up for injury; and some weight-training experts say one strength workout per week is all you need to build a better body.

The term weekend warrior describes someone who exercises infrequently, but engages in intense workouts on their days off. It also describes someone who is out of shape, but attempts to exercise at the level he did in his more-fit years. A weekend warrior workout doesn't have to take place on a Saturday or Sunday. Any big blast of fitness or exercise qualifies. 

Some people who are in reasonably good shape, but can't find time during their workweek to exercise load up their weekends with fitness activities. They might train for a marathon, spend all day playing basketball with their buddies, or hit 18 holes of golf. But is it enough?

The most current fitness guidelines say you should get 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity exercise that includes cardio, strength, and flexibility training. Ideally, that would include about 30 minutes of cardio (or aerobic) exercise, five days per week and two to three strength-training workouts.

If you play three hours of soccer in a weekend tournament, you've more than met your cardio-quota. If you follow that up with some bodyweight exercises like pushups or pull-ups, you've got your strength training covered. Top it off with a thorough session of stretching and you're done.

According to Adam Zickerman, author of Power of 10: The Once-a-Week Slow Motion Fitness Revolution, a weekend warrior-style weight training session is all you need to stay fit. His workout program is designed around weight lifting with hand or machine weights using a super-slow ten-second lift and ten second release for an intense total of 20 minutes. He writes that this style of slow motion weight training works muscles much harder than traditional lifting techniques because it doesn't use the power of momentum.

Therefore, less weight lifting is needed to get the same results. Does it work? Some people say Zickerman's technique is perfect for their busy lifestyles and delivers great results, but others say it's too intense to stick with and doesn't take care of their cardio-training needs.

The problem is that many weekend warriors tend to overestimate their athletic ability or strength and in turn hurt themselves. The American Council on Exercise rates it among the top ten exercise mistakes people make. Emergency room doctors rate weekend warrior injuries among the top reasons why people go to the emergency department. Sprains, strains, and back injuries are common when people push themselves too hard on undertrained muscles.

If exercising two days a week is really all you can do, it might be wise to split it up more evenly. For example, work out on Sunday and Wednesday or Tuesday and Saturday. That gives your muscles time to rest and recover between workouts. Better still, make short bursts of exercise a priority every day and fit more fitness into your week.




American Council of Exercise
Exercisers Beware: The American Council on Exercises' Pros Divulge Most Common Workout Mistakes

Power of 10: The Once-A-Week Slow Motion Fitness Revolution
Harper Collins (2003)
Adam Zickerman, Bill Schley, F.C. Kornack MD