5th June 2017.Do you spend every day of the work week in a rush, waiting for the chance to relax in the evenings? That is the reality for a growing number of people around the world today. Unfortunately, this lifestyle is not very conducive to exercising every day. It's often a matter of cutting an important item out of your schedule or compressing the whole day into an even bigger rush. As a result, a trend has emerged where individuals look to cram in all their weekly exercise on the weekends. Known as "weekend warriors," there's no shortage of them in gyms, on bikes, and in the pools every weekend. Is this a good lifestyle to lead, though? In other words, can you spend five days of the week being relatively inactive and still see benefits or better health from exercising on the weekend? The answer is more complicated than you might think. In this article, we'll take a general look at being a "weekend warrior" and discuss the evidence for and against this lifestyle. Of course, for some people, it's the only option available! We'll also discuss how to get the most out of your weekend workouts for those who decide to try this approach.
The benefits of working out on weekends
The emergence of the weekend warrior phenomenon has led to several studies attempting to determine its impact on fitness and overall health. You don't have to work out only on weekends to fall into this category. What matters is the frequency, length, and intensity of your workouts. If you're only working out in one or two sessions with moderate to high intensity, then you would be a part of this group. So, is it good for you? The research says yes ? if you're doing it right. It's important to meet the right activity thresholds to unlock the most benefits. You probably need about an hour of high-intensity cardio exercise in each session, or several hours of exercise at a slower, more moderate pace. In one study, participants who rose to the challenge and met the activity requirements saw noted improvements in their health outlook. Over time, this level of exercise can help contribute to lowering blood pressure, improving cholesterol, and positively impacting heart health. In other words, it confers all the benefits of regular exercise. However, it is important to note that these improvements are not as strong as they would be with a week filled with activity. Even those who didn't meet the study's requirements saw some improvements. After all, exercising will always be a step up from the sedentary lifestyle. Your diet matters, too. If your caloric intake during the week is very high, you will seldom be able to burn away enough energy to lose weight on the weekend. Therefore, if you're only going to exercise in a couple of sessions, you must also improve your eating habits. With that in mind, though, and the right exercises in your rotation, there's nothing technically wrong with this approach to exercise. Are there some downsides to this lifestyle? Unfortunately, yes.
The drawbacks to being a weekend warrior
One of the immediate problems you'll face is one of motivation. If you don't block out specific time for your exercise (or postpone it to the weekend), you must rely on your willpower to begin. It also becomes very tempting to skip a weekend or cut back on your intensity. With a more balanced approach to exercise, motivation is still an issue, but it's also easier to develop patterns. Finding the same drive to keep going with irregular exercise is more difficult. You might find it's not easy to mix up your exercises, either. While running every weekend is good for your heart, it means other parts of the body aren't receiving the same level of attention. This imbalance complicates one's approach to improving health and wellness. If you can find ways to mix up your to-do list from week to week, you'll be much likelier to succeed. There's one more major problem facing weekend warriors, though, and it's the most serious: the risk of injury. Sports injuries are all too common, and it's surprisingly simple to suffer one. Suddenly trying to exercise at full intensity after days of inactivity puts large amounts of strain on your body. Vigorous exercise in such a state can lead to strains, sprains, and even more serious issues like torn ligaments. To avoid injury, it's vital to follow "warm up" and "cool down" procedures. Always spend time preparing your body for exercise, and remember to stretch to cut down on soreness. By limbering up and going into "fitness mode," you can reduce the likelihood of injury. However, you must still be careful not to overdo your exercises. Gains take time, and they come after many weeks of effort.
Ways to supplement your weekend exercise
You can reduce the risk of injury and supplement the gains you earn from weekend exercise at the same time. How? By making some simple lifestyle changes during the week, you'll alter the calculus around your fitness. The important thing is to stay active. Remember: if you turn into a bona fide couch potato during the week, no amount of weekend fitness will catch up to the weekday neglect. So, what are some of these simple tweaks? Begin walking more often. If there is a car ride you could skip by walking instead, try doing that! Increasing the number of steps you take each day will have a positive impact on your health. The oft-repeated advice to "take 10,000 steps a day" is more myth than reality, but any level of additional movement will provide improvements to your health. We've already mentioned that you should improve your diet. What about what you drink, though? Cut out sugary drinks and replace them with water whenever possible. Hydration is key ? especially if you plan a hardcore workout for the weekend. Do you often struggle to replace carbonated drinks in your diet? Try sparkling water instead. Generally speaking, it carries with it far fewer deleterious health effects. Consider investing in some handheld weights as well. You can use these for simple, basic strength training exercises during the week. Who says you can't pump some iron at your cubicle desk? You might attract some curious co-workers, but you'll also prepare your body for its weekend efforts more thoroughly.
Developing a weekend regimen that works
What should a workout look like for a weekend warrior? Ideally, there must be variety. However, since you're spending only two days working out, you can pack this variety in from week to week. For example: for the first few weeks of training, you might want to focus solely on cardio. Running, swimming, cycling ? whatever you choose, make sure your heart pumps hard. After a few weeks of cardio, switch to strength training. Lift weights, do squats, or train in intervals. You may even decide to throw some cardio back into the mix for versatility. If you decide to buy a gym membership, visit the rowing machine. It's an excellent combination exercise that will put you into the zone for burning calories in no time. Keep it simple overall. You can mix and match your activities, but don't choose something that requires lots of extra gear or training. Centre your goal around maintaining focus, exercising for the right length of time, and preparing to do it again the next weekend. By creating a varied schedule and sticking to it, you'll avoid boredom while fitting in the right level of exercise.
Taking control of your fitness is what's important
Overall, it's easy to see that some exercise will always be better than no exercise. While the weekend warrior lifestyle isn't perfect, it does allow you to make some improvements in your health and wellness. However, if you spend your weekdays eating junk foods and being completely sedentary, you'll only work against yourself! Striking the right balance is key. Exercise variety is important, too. Remember to mix up your workouts on Saturday and Sunday to include cardio, strength, and other types of training. Could you train for a 5k or a half-marathon solely on weekends? With the right dedication and approach, yes ? you could. In the right conditions, being a weekend warrior is as legitimate as working out throughout the week. Follow @SportNessUK