It Only Takes A 13-Minute Strength-Training Session To Get Stronger, New Study Says

express strength training study

Unsplash/Alora Griffiths

Maybe you’re crammed for time every single day and just can’t seem to sneak some gym time into the mix. Or maybe you just loathe exercise and want to spend the least amount of your time possible working up a sweat. And maybe both of these descriptions apply to you. Either way, we have some great news: New research suggests that you can get away with a 13-minute strength-training workout and see actual results from it if you really really push yourself.

The study, which was conducted by researchers at Lehman College in the Bronx and partnering institutions, evaluated the workout results of 34 fit young men. None of them fit the bulky weightlifter stereotype, but all of them did perform some level of resistance training regularly. The focus of the study was to see just how much weight training was necessary to make their muscles grow larger and stronger.

After measuring the participants’ initial muscular strength, endurance and size, the research team randomly assigned each of them to perform one of three supervised weight-training routines three times a week for eight weeks. All of the routines included common strength exercises like the bench press, but the difference was the number of sets (one set equaling eight to 12 reps) each participant performed. One group performed five sets of each exercise, another performed three sets of each exercise and the final group performed just one set of each exercise. The men were told to pick heavy enough weights that left them fatigued after the completion of a set so that they couldn’t complete a thirteenth rep with the proper form without a rest break.

express strength training study

Unsplash/Chase Kinney

The results, which were published in the August edition of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, were surprising. Even though some men exercised for 70 minutes at a time, others worked out for 40 minutes at a time and the final group only pushed themselves for 13 minutes at a time, their muscular strength and endurance results were all the same. The only variance appeared in muscle size, with the men performing the most exercise sets experiencing the greatest muscle mass growth, but that mass didn’t make them stronger than the rest of the participants.

While the study is limited by its size and demographics (we need more research to extrapolate similar results to women and older age groups), it does make it clear that muscle hypertrophy (growth in size) and muscular strength don’t have to go hand in hand.

If it’s strength and endurance you’re after, just pick the weights that will truly leave you exhausted and crank out one quality set of each strength exercise you need to do. If vanity is more your game, then you might need to stick around the gym that much longer for those aesthetic gains. But at least we can categorize them differently when it comes to hitting the weight room now.

[h/t The New York Times]


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