There have been numerous studies on the optimal number of days that endurance athletes should train. In general, if you're working to improve performance, you need to
train more days per week than when you're working to maintain.
The key factor in each case is to keep up your intensity. You can maintain endurance adaptations with as few as two workouts per week as long as they are long enough
and performed at the optimal intensity.
As for resistance training there have been several recent studies involving the frequency-of-workouts factor, and the results indicate that for most bodyparts you can
make greater improvement when training them two or three days per week than one day per week. Working the same bodypart more often than two to three times a week will
not produce any additional gains, however, and can lead to overtraining and a regression in performance.
Depending on the number of days per week that you work out, you should split your bodyparts into either two or three sessions. For the bodyparts that you want to focus
on, work them three times a week for a brief period of time.
Have you ever noticed that sometimes you can ride a stationary bike and not break into a sweat, while the person next to you has sweat pouring off his or her face? Many
couples who train together find that the man usually sweats much more than the woman.
In general, men begin to sweat faster than females do, and they sweat much more profusely. This bothers some women, making them feel as if they are not training hard
enough or as if something is wrong with their bodies and sweat glands. It shouldn't, however.
Studies have shown that women start to sweat at higher skin and internal temperatures than men, and they also produce less sweat for a comparable heat-exercise load.
This difference in sweating response occurs even though women possess more heat-activated sweat glands per unit of skin area than men.
Despite the lower sweat output, however, women show heat tolerances similar to those of men who are of equal aerobic fitness at the same exercise level. Apparently,
women rely more on circulatory mechanisms for heat dissipation, whereas men make greater use of evaporative cooling. Clearly, the production of less sweat to maintain
thermal balance provides significant protection from dehydration for women when they're working out in the heat. This is a real benefit, particularly in endurance
activities, which are limited by thermo-regulatory and cardiovascular parameters.
Research indicates that exercise is more beneficial than caloric restriction for fat loss. This is because when you exercise, more weight is removed from your bodyfat
stores than when you diet without exercising, as weight lost from dieting tends to come from lean muscle stores as well as fat. Obviously, the optimum weight-loss
approach is to change your diet and exercise.
Dieters are frequently concerned about where the weight will be lost. Will there be selective loss in their hips and thighs if they do aerobic exercises like running or
the step machine? There is no scientific evidence that more fat is released from the fat pads directly over the exercising muscle than from anywhere else on the body.
Spot reducing is a myth and does not work. Bodyfat is lost from total fat reserves and usually from the individual's areas of greatest fat concentration, not the bodyparts
he or she works the most.
Research also indicates that exercising at an early age is beneficial for long-term weight control. In animal studies, when the subjects begin exercising early in life
and then stop, that early exercise appears to retard the expansion and proliferation of fat cells during adulthood. If these results prove the same for humans, then
exercise and activity during the developmental years may set up an individual for years of leanness when he or she grows up.
Apparently, exercise sets up the body's machinery to burn fat more efficiently than it stores fat, while caloric restriction does the opposite-it forces the body to
become efficient at storing fat in the fat cells. So rather than restricting your calories for weight loss, increase your activity levels and change the composition of
your diet to one low in fat and high in carbohydrates.
Many individuals who do aerobics but fail to incorporate resistance training into their fitness programs fall into the category of "skinny-fat." These people have normal
bodyweights and look good in clothes, yet they lack muscle tone and firmness. While endurance athletes are by no means fat-elite endurance athletes have demonstrated some
of the lowest bodyfat levels ever measured-their muscles often appear loose and flaccid. Other individuals who are sedentary may also appear "skinny," but they have
little muscle tone and may actually have high percentages of bodyfat. Both groups can benefit from resistance training, which tones and firms the fast-twitch muscle
Since endurance activities primarily train the slow-twitch muscle fibers, the fast-twitch fibers are often neglected and under trained in endurance athletes. Their fast
fibers may, in fact, lack muscle tone and appear loose, often being mistaken for fat. While aerobic exercise is important for cardio respiratory fitness, even the American
College of Sports Medicine now recommends weight training twice a week for overall fitness. By combining aerobics with weight work, you can train all the systems of your
body and stimulate both the slow and fast muscle fibers to help strengthen and tone your physique and improve your appearance.