- Want to improve your muscular strength and endurance? A new study says you don’t have to spend hours pumping iron in the gym.
- The study followed 34 men over a period of eight weeks. According to the findings, you can see results with three, 13-minute weekly sessions of intense resistance training.
- The Bulletproof Diet advocates weight training as an ultra-efficient method to support your health and fitness with the smallest amount of time and effort.
Finding the time to exercise can sometimes feel like an uphill battle. Wouldn’t it be great if you could get the same results as an hour-long workout in just 13 minutes? A new study suggests you can — as long as that workout consists of intense, targeted exercises that push you to your physical limit.
The study’s findings echo what Bulletproof has recommended all along: weight training is the most efficient way to maximize your effort (and time). By activating the entire body with a brief, intense workout, you can increase your overall physical performance — without spending hours in the gym.
How long should a workout be?
In this study, researchers at Lehman College and other institutions tested the ways different weight training programs impacted muscular strength, endurance, and size. Thirty-four men who had experience with weight training were randomly assigned to three groups:
- A low-volume group that performed 1 set of each exercise per session. Total workout time: A quick 13 minutes.
- A moderate-volume group that performed 3 sets of each exercise per session. Total workout time: About 40 minutes.
- A high-volume group that performed 5 sets of each exercise per session with 90 seconds of rest between sets. Total workout time: About 70 minutes.
The participants trained three times per week on non-consecutive days over a period of eight weeks. The workouts consisted of seven common exercises, including bench press, lateral pull-down, and machine leg press. Participants lifted to failure through 8-12 repetitions.
What the study found
By the end of the eight weeks, all of the participants were stronger and had improved muscular endurance. While all of the groups increased muscle size, the high-volume group reported the greatest increases in muscle mass.
So, good news for busy people: unless you’re trying to build killer quads, these findings suggest that you don’t need to spend half your day in the gym to support your fitness goals. The study’s lead author told The New York Times that you can improve your strength with one set of lifts — as long as you’re straining the working muscles to exhaustion.
This study focused solely on a single group of fit, healthy men. Despite this limitation, the researchers say the results would likely be the same for women and older people. What matters is that you’re training effectively and safely.
Upgrade your next workout
The Bulletproof Diet advocates weight training as the best form of exercise because strong muscles support healthy bodies, whether you’re an elite athlete or a stay-at-home parent (or both). Weight training boosts your metabolic rate and insulin sensitivity, increases lean muscle mass, decreases your risk of injury, and makes you more resistant to disease, among other benefits.
To get started, check out the Bulletproof Body Exercise Guide. You don’t have to spend an hour at the gym every day. This weight training program is designed to activate your entire body with short high-intensity weight training sessions. Perform 1 set of each movement per workout, and take each set to muscular failure. That’s it.
Looking for more workout ideas? Check out this list of four free workout routines for building muscle, losing weight, and boosting energy. To improve your performance even further, try these workout supplements (that actually work).