In a study, individuals completed a single 3-second, eccentric bicep contraction at maximum effort, the same as lowering a heavy dumbbell slowly, from a bent to a straight arm.
Prior research has demonstrated this can improve muscle strength significantly when it’s performed every day for 5 days a week for 4 weeks.
Individuals in the current study were divided into 2 groups, with the 1st group doing a single 3-second contraction 2 days each week, and the other group doing the identical exercise on 3 days each week. The bicep strength of all of the participants was compared after 4 weeks.
Individuals who completed the exercise 2 days per week experienced no meaningful changes; however, the 3-day group experienced small but meaningful concentric strength increases of 2.5% and eccentric strength increases of 3.9%.
Other studies have revealed that shorter exercise performed regularly is more effective than 1 or 2 big training sessions every week.
These current results indicate at least 3 days each week are needed to experience significant benefits from a minimal exercise such as the single 3-second eccentric contraction
3 is good, but 5 is better. Although the results found 3 days each week will produce results, putting in some extra days of exercise every week will have more of an impact.
The earlier study’s participants who completed the exercise 5 days each week experienced greater strength improvements, more than 10% increases, compared to the 3-day group.
The researchers however emphasized that this doesn’t mean exercising daily would provide additional improvements.
Muscle growth happens when resting; the muscles need rest for strength and mass improvements.
It should be mentioned that these were only 3-second exercises in the study, so the rest time between exercises was about 28,800 times more than the time of the exercise.
But muscles do seem to want to be stimulated with greater frequency, particularly for the small amount of muscle-strengthening exercise.
More research is required to see if the results apply to other amounts and kinds of exercise.
Muscles experiencing frequent stimulation might not necessarily be ideal for a greater amount of muscle-strengthening exercise like training at a gym or aerobic exercise that improves cardiovascular function.
It could however be that exercising for 2 hours once a week is less effective compared to exercising for 20 minutes every day.
If it’s not possible to allocate 20 minutes each day to exercise, even 5 minutes every day will make a difference to health and fitness.
More studies are of course required to confirm this, but the recent research demonstrates how important it is to accumulate small amounts of exercise as often as possible every week.
It’s important to remember that even very small amounts of exercise will make a difference to the body if it’s done regularly.
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