If you are one of those who have always found it difficult to carve out time to exercise, then this study may interest you. Researchers from Australia’s Edith Cowan University and Japan’s Niigata University of Health and Welfare found that just three seconds of exercise a day, five days a week, can significantly improve muscle strength.
When performing a biceps curl, the eccentric movement (lengthening of the muscle) occurs during a slow and controlled lowering of the arm down toward the waist. Extending the arm up toward the shoulder is a concentric (muscle contracting) movement. An isometric contraction is a contraction without movement in which the length of the muscle does not change.
In 2022, scientists conducted a study in which eccentric contractions of the biceps were performed for just three seconds a day for five days a week and found that it significantly improved muscle strength. Now they’ve gone back to the previous study to answer the question: how many days a week do you need to perform the three-second exercise to see a benefit?
According to Kazunori (Ken) Nosaki, one of the study’s co-authors, “Our previous work has shown that regular, shorter workouts are more beneficial than one or two big workouts per week. We now have a clearer idea of where the tipping point is where you start to see meaningful benefit from these minimal workouts.”
To determine that point, the researchers recruited 26 healthy young adults, including 13 participants from a previous study. Using an isometric dynamometer that measures limb strength, the participants performed one three-second contraction of the dominant arm biceps two days a week or three days a week for four weeks. After each eccentric contraction, the arm of the isokinetic dynamometer passively returned the elbow joint to its original position.
It was found that those who exercised two days per week had no significant change, while the group who exercised three days per week had a small but significant increase in concentric strength (2.5%) and eccentric strength (3.9%), but no significant increase in isometric strength.
“These new results suggest that at least three days a week of at least one single three-second eccentric contraction training is needed,” Nosaka said.
While training three days a week produces strength gains, it doesn’t compare favorably to training five days a week, which produces eccentric, concentric and isometric strength gains of more than 10 percent in each category. However, according to the researchers, this does not mean that daily training will further improve performance.
“Muscle adaptations occur during rest, so muscles need rest to improve their strength and muscle mass,” says Nosaka. “It should be noted that the exercise duration was only three seconds, so the rest between exercises in the study was nearly 28,800 times longer than the exercise time. But apparently muscles do like to be stimulated more often, especially with a small amount of muscle-strengthening exercise.”
It should be noted that more research is needed to see if the findings apply to other types and frequency of exercise. However, the researchers claim that even small amounts of exercise are good for our health.
In conclusion, if you want to improve muscle strength with three-second daily exercises, it is recommended that you do them at least three days a week. While this will not produce as significant results as exercising five days a week, it is still a great way to incorporate physical activity into your daily routine.