How to Choose the Right Amount of Exercise to Improve Muscle and Strength

Does the bro science rep range check out?


woman performing one arm bent over dumbbell row on a bench in a gym.
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If the clock is your primary guide to determining your exercise dose then you are likely over or under-training.

There is nothing special about an hour.

Granted, I am a huge proponent of the physical activity guidelines, and they use time thresholds for exercise: 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of intense aerobic physical activity a week. The recommendation of two strength training sessions per week lack doesn’t have a time marker.

These recommendations are baselines for health and wellness, not universal markers for all potential fitness goals.

If you want to run a marathon, 150 minutes a week won’t cut it. On the flip side, if you use high-intensity interval training, you can improve your cardiac capacity with three weekly 4-minute Tabata sessions. Keep in mind a Tabata workout is not any exercise for 20 seconds on and 10 seconds off. It is a brutal max effort protocol on a cycle ergometer.

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to optimizing training. We can provide universal recommendations for baseline fitness, but even that likely needs some adjustment considering training history, age, and current health status.