I try to exercise 4 times a week; twice doing resistance/weight training. But once you’re fit and have developed some muscle, you might get by with less resistance training.
A new study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, as covered in this New York Times article, suggests that once you reach a level of fitness and muscle development, you can maintain it with steady but less frequent resistance exercise.
In the study, those fit volunteers who ceased to exercise altogether lost most of the muscle mass and strength acquired through recent training. But the group that continued to train only once a week was able to hold on to much of their muscle and strength. This was true for older and younger folks.
A “once per week exercise dose was generally sufficient to maintain positive neuromuscular adaptations,” the study authors concluded.
This study is good news for fit people who become too busy to sustain a full exercise schedule for a few months. If you do not possess a baseline level of fitness, however, working out once a week will not do you as much good to build or retain muscle.
Remember: muscle burns fat 24/7!