Lowering a dumbbell 6 times a day offers significant gains in strength
Working regular exercise into your lifestyle can be beneficial in all sorts of ways, but studies continue to unearth valuable details around how we can strike the optimal balance. New research has offered interesting insights in this space, demonstrating that very brief dumbbell workouts each day can lead to a significant boost in muscle strength.
Earlier this year, a team at Australia's Edith Cowan University published research that detailed the physical benefits of regular bicep curls, even if they were undertaken for just three seconds a day. The positive effects of these very short workouts related to improved muscle mass, and the team's latest study expands on the idea that small bouts of exercise can still be very worth our while.
The new research is based on a dilemma many might be familiar with, are we better off exercising a tiny bit each day or doing a long and vigorous workout on the weekend? Unrelated studies have shown there can be specific benefits to the latter approach, but this new study shows that if bulking up is your aim, then picking up some weights throughout the week is the better approach.
Subjects were placed into three different groups, with all made to perform eccentric contractions of the bicep. This type of action lengthens the muscle and can be achieved by slowly lowering a raised dumbbell back below the hips. Each week, one group performed just six of these on a single day, another group performed six eccentric contractions a day for five days a week, and the last group squeezed 30 contractions into a single day.
After a four-week period, the group doing only six contractions once a week exhibited no increase in muscle strength or muscle thickness. The group doing 30 contractions in a single day showed no increase in muscle strength, though muscle thickness did grow by 5.8%. The group doing six contractions a day five times a week saw similar increases in muscle thickness, but significant gains in muscle strength, of more than 10%.
“People think they have to do a lengthy session of resistance training in the gym, but that’s not the case,” said study author Professor Ken Nosaka. “Just lowering a heavy dumbbell slowly once or six times a day is enough.”
The scientists note the importance of the two rest days in this group, allowing time for key muscle adaptations to occur. As in their previous study, they also point to the potential of these types of short-duration workouts to combat the effects of aging, which include declining muscle mass and strength. They believe the same principle likely applies to other muscle groups as well.
“If you’re just going to the gym once a week, it’s not as effective as doing a bit of exercise every day at home,” said Nosaka. “This research, together with our previous study, suggests the importance of accumulating a small amount of exercise a week, [rather] than just spending hours exercising once a week. We need to know that every muscle contraction counts, and it’s how regularly you perform them that counts.”
The research was published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports.
Source: Edith Cowan University