After many years of being on the couch, did we finally get you so far to get fit (again)? And now you want to know how much exercise is actually good for beginners? The fitness professor Stephan Geisler has the answers.
“Only the dose makes the poison”, or something like that was one of the most famous sayings of the most famous naturopath: Paracelsus. It is quite certain that he did not apply this saying to sport in the 16th century. However, according to my thesis, he would probably do it nowadays. At least that is the current state of sports medicine, namely, everyone agrees who does too little or no sport / exercise, gets sick and who does too much of a good usually also.
As a result, the question of how much or how often you should exercise is generally very interesting – but anything but easy to answer. Since the answer depends on an extremely large number of factors, I would first like to draw an exemplary scenario in order to keep it at least somewhat serious.
It depends on the sport
First of all, of course, it depends on the physical activity itself. While I can certainly play golf or chess every day and possibly even several times a day, it is rather different with highly intensive sports such as boxing in sparring or football as a competitive sport.
Since I have my expertise primarily in strength training , in our example I am referring to strength training and, to narrow it down even more, to health-oriented strength training with “more or less healthy” beginners. Even with such a specific example, there are still some variables that one should know. For example the goal of the training. Let us anticipate this: Anyone who wants to build muscle has to do a little more than someone who just wants to keep their back pain under control.
Sports for beginners: the perfect number of sentences
The best news right at the beginning: Studies by our American colleague Brad Schoenfeld have shown that for beginners a set number of 4 sets per muscle per week is sufficient to achieve adequate hypertrophy (muscle building). For example, if you train twice a week and do at least 2 sets for the respective muscles, that may be enough (for the time being).
Whether you would achieve the same effect if you were to do 4 sentences once a week or one sentence 4 times a week has unfortunately not yet been sufficiently researched (but we are on it, confident note from the author).
But what if you would like to train more often?
Training the muscles is relatively safe for beginners to recommend 2-3 times a week. Here you could do a so-called full body workout. But if you want to train 4 or 5 times (or more), a so-called split training would be recommended.
Here you “split” your training plan over different days and can then, for example, train all muscles that are involved in pressing on Monday and all muscles that are involved in pulling on Tuesday or Wednesday. This guarantees the muscles their respective regeneration time and can still train more often. Another variant would be, for example, to push endurance or stretching training units between the strength days. But if you want to hear my personal recommendation: More than 3 to 4 times a week is completely unnecessary for the amateur athlete. Better train intelligently!