How much exercise is enough?

What is resistance exercise?

Resistance exercise is any exercise that uses external resistance to improve muscular fitness. This includes using traditional free weights (dumbbells, kettlebells or barbells), weight machines, body weight, elastic tubing, medicine balls or household items like milk jugs or cans. By exercising a muscle or group of muscles against the resistance you can improve muscular strength, endurance, hypertrophy (muscle growth) and power.

How much exercise is enough?

There are different recommendations depending on the type of training you may be after. For the general population, the following is a good guide:
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends
• Minimum of two non-consecutive days each week
• 1 set of 10 exercises that target major muscle groups
• 8-12 repetitions per set for healthy adults, OR
• 10-15 repetitions per set for older and frail individuals

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young couple training with weights at gym

What if I want to train a bit harder?

If you are an athlete or want to improve a specific area, then it is important to tailor your sessions to the improvements you’re after. The exercises you complete won’t change between sessions; load, volume, rest period or workout frequency have a greater influence. Load is the amount of weight lifted in a given set, which is normally based on a percentage of the maximum weight you can lift once (1-RM). Volume is the total number or exercises, repetitions (reps) and sets during the session. Rest period is the time taken between each set and exercise. Frequency is how many sessions you have during the week.

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends:

Muscular Strength
The ability of the muscle to exert a maximal external force.
• Load: 60-70% 1RM for novice-intermediate; 80% for advanced
• Volume: 1-3 sets of 8-12 reps for novice-intermediate; 2-6 sets of 1-8 reps for advanced
• Rest period: 2-3 minutes for more intense exercises that use a heavier load; 1-2 minutes for lower intensity and lighter loads.

Muscular Power
The highest power output attainable during a particular movement
• Load: 30-60% 1RM for upper body exercises; 0-60% 1RM for lower body exercises
• Volume: 1-3 sets of 3-6 reps per exercise
• Rest period: 2-3 minutes for more intense exercises that use a heavier load; 1-2 minutes for lower intensity and lighter loads.

Muscular Hypertrophy
Enhancement of the muscle size.
• Load: 70-85% 1RM for novice-intermediate; 70-100% for advanced
• Volume: 1-3 sets of 8-12 reps for novice-intermediate; 3-6 sets of 1-12 reps for advanced
• Rest period: 2-3 minutes for more intense exercises that use a heavier load; 1-2 minutes for lower intensity and lighter loads.

Muscular Endurance
The ability of a muscle or group of muscles to repeatedly exert a submaximal resistance.
• Load: lower than 70% 1RM
• Volume: 2-4 sets of 10-25 repetitions
• Rest period: 30 seconds to 1 minute between each set

How do I decrease my risk of over-training?

It is easy to get stuck into a resistance program and increase your load too quickly. Increase your resistance once you are able to comfortably perform the current load for one or two repetitions over the desired number on two consecutive training sessions. For example, during a squat your goal is to lift 50kg for 3 sets of 12 repetitions. If for the past two sessions you are able to do a squat at 50kg for 3 sets of 14-15 repetitions then you could increase the load. The increase is 2-10% of the current weight.

How do I start?

To get the most out of your resistance training program, we recommend seeing an Exercise Physiologist. They will be able to set the resistance program to correctly reflect the goals you want to achieve, and you will be at lower risk of going too hard, too fast.

An Exercise Physiologist can tailor your program to the equipment available at home or your local gym, evaluate and modify an existing program, and assess and correct your movement where required. They consider your exercise history, presence of any injuries or chronic illnesses, current capacity, ability and goals.

Get in touch with one of our Exercise Physiologists to help you get started, call 03 8370 3044.

[1] American College of Sports Medicine. (2013). Retrieved from https://www.acsm.org/docs/brochures/resistance-training.pdf

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2018-12-04T14:53:33+10:00