Silly Questions, or How Often Should I Exercise

03May11

A couple of days ago I answered these questions from a young fighter. I get similar questions from time to time, so I decided to share my answer with my readers.

Questions:

I am preparing for amateur matches in Muay Thai and boxing. I work out twice a day. In the morning I begin with your early morning stretch, then I do aerobic runs or intervals. I would like to ask what should I do to conclude such a morning workout: relaxed stretches or isometric stretches?

In the afternoon I have a technical workout and sparring—sport-specific exercises. Two times per week I add to my afternoon workout strength exercises, including those you show in your Secrets of Stretching DVD (is doing them twice a week often enough?), ending with your isometric stretches.

Answer:

In essence, these questions are about optimal frequency of workouts—how often should you exercise.

Optimal frequency of workouts is determined by effectiveness of exercises on the one hand and by fatigue on the other.

Some exercises deliver satisfactory effects when done once or twice a week for a few sets of a few reps, while others need to be done either more often or with a greater number of reps, or both. So for considerable gains in maximal strength, you can lift weights even just once a week, but to master fighting skills, you may need to practice them more than once a day.

Now, the better shape you are in—the less you fatigue and the faster you recover—the more often and more intensely you can do all the exercises you need to make satisfactory gains in your sport. At the same time, some exercises can still be done infrequently because doing them more often won’t give you better results.

So, why have I titled this post “Silly Questions”? Because whether you should do the stretching and strengthening exercises twice a week, or more often, is revealed by your results. If your strength and flexibility improve and you feel good, then you train often enough. If you do not improve and you are fatigued, you need to train less often or less intensely. If you do not improve but feel good, then you should try to train more often.

Similarly, silly is the question of whether to end the morning workouts with relaxed stretches or with isometric stretches. Which static stretches (if any) are best for you in the morning is revealed by how you feel and move during your afternoon workout, duh!

If you want to know precisely when you are most ready for the next workout, then use the information in Science of Sports Training, chapters 17 (Control of the Training Process) and 18 (Measurements and Tests). In those chapters you will find ways of telling whether you have sufficiently recovered after the last workout and are ready for more or not.

Now, for something completely different…. Look what they did to my invention! This just in from Unfinished Man: http://www.unfinishedman.com/the-unbreakable-umbrella-a-self-defense-umbrella/.

Unbreakable Umbrella vs. Watermelon



3 Responses to “Silly Questions, or How Often Should I Exercise”

  1. 1 Manik Meah

    Hello Thomas, I have a question please. I am getting confused between reps and sets. On isometric stretches, when you in say in your book Stretching Scientifically, repeat an isometric stretch 3 to 5 times, do you mean (a) stretch (near maximal), tense for 5/6s then rest for 1/2s, and stretch deeper to maximal stretch and tense for 30s, rest one minute (being 1 round) and then from the last maximal stretch position in round 1, repeat this process for 3 to 5 rounds (with each round starting from the maximal stretch position of the prior round), or (b) stretch, tense for 5/6, stretch again deeper, tense 5/6, stretch again deeper/tense etc as many times as it takes to reach maximal stretch and then tense the last stretch for 30s, rest for one minute (being 1 round) and then repeat this whole process 3 to 5 times?

  2. Neither of your descriptions matches my instructions in Stretching Scientifically. First, the beginning position for isometric stretching should not put muscles at a “near maximal stretch.” Second, you make it much more complicated than my instructions on page 54 of the book. On the same page I explain why not to begin isometrics with the near maximal stretch.


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