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JONES: Are you working out weekly or weakly?

Aloha, Doug. I read all of your stuff and you’re a pretty smart dude. I have a question about my weekly hikes, where my wife and I climb up and down a Kaua‘i ridge or mountain. Our hikes are very, very physical and can last five to seven hours. You’d probably call them “Super Strenuous Stamina Scrambles.” Since we only do these once a week, I’m curious if this is a good thing or a bad thing for our fitness. This question becomes more important as we get older and you are just the right person to ask.

— Mahalo, K.J.

I appreciate your question and comments, KJ. You are obviously both young at heart, as well as kindhearted.

First and foremost, it’s wonderful to see your enthusiasm for staying active and fully exploring the beautiful landscapes of Kaua‘i. Your jungle ventures and island adventures are truly impressive. I also enjoy hiking and biking the panoramas of paradise, in addition to my monthly Walk &Talk (next one on 11/5 at 5 p.m.).

“Weekend Athlete Syndrome” is a term used to characterize individuals who engage in strenuous physical activities only once per week, usually when they have some extra time on a Saturday or Sunday. Tennis, basketball, flag football and soccer are popular sports. Surf shredding, bike blazing, and sand spiking count, too. A seven-hour Super Strenuous Saturday/Sunday Stamina Scramble definitely steals the show, even for the young-hearted.

While each of these activities provides a rigorous workout, the issue arises from the prolonged gap between sessions. Engaging in such intense activities only once a week means paying the price for a half-day hike without receiving the full reward for your invested efforts. Taking six days off in between workouts makes your next scramble tougher on stamina and rougher on safety.

There is just too much down time and, as a result, detraining during the week negates any training effects from the weekend. This is not only not good; it can also be quite bad.

Many people mistakenly believe that being a weekend warrior enhances their level of fitness, so they push themselves progressively harder during each upcoming scrimmage or scramble. Eventually, this is an accident waiting to happen.

The lack of physiological adaptation from training means that, at some point, the intensity of your weekend adventure will outmatch your preparation, leading to muscle and tendon strains, ligament sprains or, worse yet, cardiovascular “pains.”

In my previous column, I stated that I don’t like taking off more than two days in a row from on-purpose exercise, especially for activities involving stamina. When you do so, the benefits of exercise begin to end. Detraining starts only days after training stops.

Exercise triggers instantaneous advantageous physiological alterations to your body. When you stop training, these beneficial adaptations reverse — and reverse quickly. Cardiovascular fitness declines, resting heart rate rises, blood volume decreases, and muscle atrophy occurs, resulting in reduced muscle strength and endurance.

This rate of detraining varies among individuals and depends on genetics, age, fitness level and types of exercise. Because detraining can begin within just a few days of inactivity, any gains that you made during your strenuous weekend excursions have most likely totally evaporated during the week.

If you continue to only perform once weekly workouts, you might not experience any net positive change in your fitness level, ever. Do you see how this can make each successive scramble potentially more dangerous? Fortunately, there’s a simple fix for making your super scrambles also super smart and safe.

Currently, you’re doing nothing during the week, right? Instead, I suggest that you start doing next to nothing. It doesn’t take a seven-hour hike to get results. You can elicit an effective circulo-respiratory responses in seven minutes. You don’t have to always go 7-miles up and down a mountain. During the week, you can go up and down your staircase, or your street, seven times, perhaps on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Diversifying your training also works wonders. The heart, lungs and blood vessels are conditioned through a variety of activities. Don’t just hit the ridges and mountains. Venture out on the bike path. Adventure out in the ocean. Super short sessions of stamina can stave off the effects of detraining between your super scrambles.

Though your commitment to physical activity is amazing, more frequent consistency is crucial for long-term fitness and health. Every third day is a good rule to follow. Adding shorter, mid-week workouts will ensure that your weekend scrambles will remain enjoyable for years to come.


Doug Jones earned his Master’s Degree in Exercise Physiology from the University of Maryland and has served professionals and personalities as a concierge fitness trainer for decades. As a resident of Kaua‘i and Connecticut, he has helped millions of people learn the secrets of fitness and fat loss, both online and in person. To submit your questions, or for more information, call (808) 652-6453 or visit
Source: The Garden Island

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