As orthopedic sports injury doctors and physical therapy experts, we are always reminding our patients about the positive power of exercise, no matter how much or little of it you can squeeze into your day.
With schedules jam-packed these days and getting busier as the holidays approach, people are looking for faster, more efficient workouts to deliver results.
For those who weight train regularly, here’s some good news…
A recent study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise showed that muscle strength can be improved just as much with fewer, more intense sets as with lengthier, higher-counting reps.
The key is that these sets (or amount of times you perform an exercise in quick succession) must be done to the point of fatigue or “muscle failure” … until you just can’t lift anymore.
The study evaluated 34 men who weight-trained frequently. They were divided into groups and given different amounts of sets to perform for seven common exercises including bench presses, lateral pull-downs, and machine leg presses.
Each group worked out the same number of times per week for eight weeks.
After the eight weeks, research showed that those who had done fewer reps had essentially the same muscle mass measurements and strength abilities as though who had done more.
The takeaway is that you can achieve your muscle-building goals in as little as two to three sets of highly intense reps rather than needlessly pushing yourself to, let’s say, five reps.
Experts caution though that speeding through fewer reps means you should not lose sight of correct form. Lifting weights should be very controlled, and quick, jerking motions can cause serious injuries like muscle strains, dislocated joints, or a rotator cuff tear, meniscus tear, or patellar tendon tears.
If trying out a new size of weights or machine, make sure to have a fitness trainer spot you or show you how to properly use it. For those who’ve had past sports injuries and are unsure about starting a new weight-lifting routine, please contact us at (512) 439-1000 for an appointment with one of our board-certified and fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeons.
(Adapted from The New York Times-Health)