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Weekend Warrior vs. Weekday Exercise: Which is Better?

It's a common question from my clients: should I work out intensely twice during the weekend as a Weekend Warrior, or spread my workouts throughout the week? The answer is, it depends on your goals. Let's explore the benefits and considerations for both approaches.

The Importance of Weekly Exercise for a Healthy Heart

Maintaining a healthy heart requires a minimum of 150 minutes of exercise per week. Recent research published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reveals that people who only exercise on weekends have a similar risk of heart disease as those who work out regularly during the week.

Both the Dutch Health Organization and the World Health Organization recommend moderate exercise on multiple days each week. In the UK, it is even more specifically advised to spread exercise over four days.

Many people struggle to find time for exercise during the week due to full-time work and parenting responsibilities. Additionally, some individuals find exercise unenjoyable, and the delayed rewards of improved health make it challenging to stay motivated. Feeling exhausted after a long workday further impedes their ability to engage in regular exercise.

The good news is that exercising only on weekends can still benefit your heart health. A study with 89,573 participants found no significant difference in heart disease risk between those who exercised twice a week and those who spread their exercise over multiple days.

However, whether less frequent, longer workouts increase the risk of injury remains a question. The research mentioned earlier did not show an increased risk, but further studies are necessary to understand potential drawbacks of the Weekend Warrior style.

Balancing Intensity and Injury Prevention

In my own experience, exercising moderately multiple times a week seems to reduce the risk of injury compared to two intense workouts per week. Particularly for inexperienced individuals lacking exercise knowledge, participating in high-intensity interval training (HIIT) or Crossfit classes over the weekend can lead to higher chances of injury.

Dr. Ranen, in an interview, highlights why many business professionals experience lower back injuries due to inadequate exercise knowledge. It emphasizes the significance of understanding proper exercise techniques and choosing suitable workouts.

Striving for Better Health through Exercise

Less than half of Dutch adults engage in more than 150 minutes of exercise per week. While this minimum level already offers significant health improvements, exercising more consistently yields even greater benefits. By finding a balance that suits your lifestyle and fitness goals, you can create a sustainable exercise routine that promotes a healthier heart and overall well-being.

In conclusion, whether you choose the Weekend Warrior pattern or a weekday exercise routine, the key is to find an approach that aligns with your goals and lifestyle. Regular physical activity, even in small amounts, can make a significant difference in your health. Remember, it's not just about the quantity of exercise but also the quality and safety of your workouts that contribute to long-term well-being.

Tips For Overcoming Challenges to Exercise

  1. Working out on a daily basis makes exercise a habit instead of a chore. Habits are easier to follow.

  2. Find exercise that is enjoyable for you. If overall health is your goal mixing your workouts up is not a problem. Platforms like Classpass make it possible to try different activities.

  3. Empower yourself with knowledge about fitness and nutrition, or enlist a personal trainer who can provide intrinsic motivation and support.

  4. Exercise in the morning before you go to work: this way, you put your health first and you're always guaranteed you use your first energy on the day for yourself. Training after work make it more likely you drop off. Read more about the Benefits Of Morning Exercise On Your Work Performance.


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