It took longer than you thought, but you finally got there. You have more muscle and less fat than ever. You have reached a level of fitness that would make you dream of more than one. But there is a problem. You feel tired, emptied. To think that you should train 4 to 5 days a week, for the rest of your life, just to maintain your current fitness does not appeal to you at all.
If all this seems familiar to you, I have good news for you: it is much easier to maintain a level of fitness, already acquired, than to reach it. In fact, you’d be surprised how little fitness training is required to maintain the bulk of your strength, volume, and aerobic power.
Maintenance: 1 session per week?
As an example, a study from Canada. This shows that you can escape by training only once a week without losing any strength.
The researchers of fitness tutorials sent the subjects a 10-week training program. They were then divided into two groups for an additional 6 weeks. Group 1 raised weights once a week. Group 2, twice a week. Subjects who trained only once a week were able to maintain their strength on 4 of the 6 exercises on which they were tested. Their performances on the leg press and leg curl have even increased.
Even when the maintenance period is extended to 8 months, lifting weights once a week was enough to maintain muscle gains.
Researchers asked a group of subjects to lift weights three times a week for four months. Each workout included 3 sets of 3 exercises (knee extension, thigh press and squat) for 8 to 12 repetitions. The subjects were then divided into 3 different groups for 8 months. The first group stopped training. Group Two has gone from three sessions a week to just one. The last group decreased their number of sessions, but also their number of sets per exercise, from 3 to 1. Unsurprisingly, the members of the group who stopped training lost most of the muscles they had managed to develop. On the other hand, members of group 2 and even of group 3 have retained their muscle mass. The maintenance program even allowed them to gain 7 to 8% extra strength.