Health/Sci-TechLifestyleVOLUME 19 ISSUE # 17

Can you really lose weight with two workouts a week?

It turns out there may be something to the “weekend warrior” mentality after all.

A recent study suggested that concentrating all your exercise into just 1 or 2 days could work as well for fat loss as spreading it throughout the week. The research builds on growing evidence that the weekend warrior exercise pattern can aid your health. A 2023 study of nearly 90,000 people found that weekend warriors were less likely to have a heart attack, stroke, or heart failure than inactive people. Another study of nearly 351,000 adults found no difference in risk of early death between weekend warriors and those who exercised three or more times a week.

The new study was the first to examine the weekend warrior pattern and body fat, which was measured using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA scan). “In [our] fast-paced society, we are interested in exploring alternatives to stay fit for individuals who cannot meet the recommended frequency,” said study author Lihua Zhang, MD, PhD, a healthcare scientist at Fuwai Hospital’s National Center for Cardiovascular Diseases in Beijing.

Using the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), Zhang and colleagues analyzed data from 9,600 people. About 4,000 reported exercising for at least 150 minutes a week – the minimum amount of exercise recommended for adults. Most spread it out over 3 or more days, but 772 people, the weekend warriors, crammed it all into just 1 or 2 days.

Both groups – the weekend warriors and the more frequent movers – had less belly fat, a smaller waist, a lower body mass index, and less body fat than people who did not exercise regularly. And both groups were roughly the same on those measures, despite differences in exercise frequency.

The results held regardless of diet. “No matter if someone had a healthy diet or not, the weekend warrior still was associated with lower adiposity,” or body fat, said Zhang.