Working out improves the the physique when it is stressed and challenged on a regular basis. When the body is consistently under muscular stress, it responds by getting stronger and more resilient to the tasks it is asked to perform. If you lift weights, for example, your muscles become able to lift more weight. If you run, your cardiovascular system becomes more efficient so that you can run farther. If you practice yoga, your body becomes more flexible so you can do more poses. All workouts are a form of progressive bio-training. If you tell your body that it must do certain things regularly, overtime, your body will adapt to help you perform those tasks with increasing ease. We are extremely adaptable. However, if you tell your body that it only has to perform certain tasks every now and again, it will not ever adapt. It will merely become stressed out. And this is what happens to the “weekend warrior”.

“Weekend warriors” are intrepid spirits who ride a desk all week long and then decide to cycle 40 miles on Saturday morning. Or those who lift nothing more than sauce pans Tuesday through Sunday nights and then blow through “Murph” on Monday morning. While some activity is better than none, it is better to do smaller bouts of activity throughout the week rather than doing it all in one or two days. Here’s why:

You Risk Injury. If a body is not consistently trained for physical activity it does not know how to manage that activity well. Yes, we can all run. But we do not all run well. There are mechanics at play, there is technique. There are ways to run and ways not to run. If you don’t train as a runner, you will naturally fall back into instinctive movement patterns. These patterns are native to your body and your body alone. So, if you have severely pronated ankles, you will run on the inside of your feet. If you run on the inside of your feet, you are messing up the alignment of your knees. Now pound out 10 miles (if you can). What do you think the long term impact of that will be? If you had trained for that kind of activity regularly, you would be aware of the ankle situation and taken care of it. Injury avoided.

Running is an example of a natural movement. If we go through a movement pattern that is not instinctual, like Olympic weight lifting, we begin to face an entirely different set of dangers. In this activity, you are dealing with lifting heavy weight evenly disbursed over a bar. In the regular world, the weight that we lift is often asymmetrical. (You don’t lift two kids of the same weight at the same time, or two bags of groceries that are packed identically, right?) So, to do Olympic weight lifting, we need a whole new set of rules. And if we don’t learn those rules, or train them into our body memory, we are banking on a whim and a prayer. Sure, most likely you will get the weight off the ground. But you will probably blow out something in your back or shoulders in the process. There is a skill and a system to Olympic weightlifting. If you don’t know it, you’re going toget hurt. Period.

You Won’t Make Progress. If you don’t train your body regularly, as in 3-4 times a week–evenly–you aren’t going to get anywhere. You won’t be able to run any further, bike any longer, or lift any heavier. You just aren’t giving your body the right kind of input. As a weekend warrior, you tell your body that it has 5-6 days to recover and then all it has to do is to endure the physical chaos for a few hours. It doesn’t have to improve, it merely has to survive. You won’t ever increase your natural capacity, and, as a matter of fact, you will eventually burn though the natural capacity you already have. Working out works because it is a progressive system of training the body to do more and be better. Just like anything else in life, the more attention and effort you give it, the better your results will be.