New '1 Workout a Week' Routine Maximizes Exercise

If you’re having a tough time scheduling a workout, you’re not alone. Surveys show less than half the U.S. hits the gym enough to meet government guidelines of 30 minutes a day, five days a week. But what if you could take care of a week’s worth of workouts in just one shot?

Kids, school, work, dinner, homework. At what time do you squeeze in a workout?

Some people head to the gym just once a week for one hour and don’t feel one bit of guilt. Their secret: an exercise plan hatched in a Strength Science Lab at the University of Florida.

“It’s based on eccentric or negative resistance training,” Michael Macmillan, M.D., clinical associate professor at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Fla., said. “It takes advantage of the fact the body can lower weights that are too heavy to lift. When you lower a weight, the energy that you’re lowering the weight from actually goes into the muscle.”

The machines use sensors that add weight when you lower the bar then remove weight when you lift. That’s double the workout in half the time. It is how Olympic champion skier Bode Miller trains.

“The stretching of the muscle by this particular level of weight is a strong stimulus of growth and repair,” Dr. Macmillan said.

“Feels like it really maximizes the intensity of the workout,” Bryan Conrad, who works out frequently, told Ivanhoe. “With two little kids at home, I don’t have a lot of extra time.”

While these machines require the assistance of an exercise professional, anyone can incorporate eccentric training into their workout. When you lift weights with both arms, lower the same amount of weight using only one arm.

1 Workout a Week -- Research Summary

BACKGROUND: According to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, only 27 percent of Americans are getting 30 minutes of exercise five or more days per week while 49 percent report exercising for at least 30 minutes, less than three days per week. Surveys also show that less than half of the United States hits the gym enough to meet government guidelines of 30 minutes a day, five days a week.

STRENGTH SCIENCE LAB: An exercise plan developed by the University of Florida lets people indulge and go to the gym only once a week for an one-hour session and don’t feel guilty. The plan is developed at the “Strength Science” lab at the University.

According to Michael Macmillan, M.D., the workout plan is based on “eccentric” or negative resistance training. The machine uses sensors that add weight when you lower the bar and then removes weight when you lift it. The machine will push you to the limit with as few reps as possible.

BENEFITS: Studies show that this exercise is a fun and healthy way to workout. It can also be used as a rehab option for people with tendinitis, a common sports injury that often occurs from overuse. Tendinitis can cause deep, nagging pain that is caused by inflammation of tendons.