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Is it better to split my one-hour workout into three shorter ones? Add to ...

The question: What is your perspective on spreading your weight training out during the day? For example, doing shorter workouts at two or three different times for a total of one hour a day? I have heard that it is a good strategy to increase one’s metabolism.

The answer: Although there are some possible benefits to spreading out your workouts, I hesitate to give my endorsement since, in my experience, most people struggle to fit in one 20-minute workout a day, let alone three.

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My fear is that aiming for three workouts per day may be setting yourself up for failure.

That said, I am provisionally in favour of you spreading out your workouts, if you think that multiple, smaller workouts a day would make exercise more accessible for you. But you must define for yourself what is a “workout” and what is “weight training.” If by weight training you mean posture and balance exercises, like the ones in my weekly Stealth column, then by all means do them as many times as possible. Those exercises are meant to be spread out throughout the day.

More traditional strength exercises likes push-ups, weighted squats and pull-ups should not be done multiple times a day. To do those, dedicate 30 minutes to an hour three times a week and challenge yourself enough that you need to recover in between workouts.

Why? You state a desire to increase your metabolism. To improve your metabolism, you have to lift heavy enough weights to increase your lean muscle mass, which means your workouts need a certain amount of volume and intensity. You need to challenge yourself and lift relatively heavy weights. The more weight you lift, the more recovery time you need. Any weight workout you can do three times per day is not providing you with enough volume per workout, or forcing you to lift heavy enough weights.

If you want to split up your workouts, do your cardio and weight exercises at different times. Leave a minimum of six hours in between workouts. To maximize your cardio sessions, include some intervals.

Trainer’s tip: In addition to the more strenuous workouts described above, aim to fit more movement into your day, too. Try to walk instead of taking the car; try to take the stairs instead of the elevator. The less time you spend sitting, the better! For an extra challenge, buy an inexpensive pedometer and progressively increase your daily steps until you take roughly 10,000 steps per day.

Kathleen Trotter has been a personal trainer and Pilates equipment specialist for 10 years. Her website is www.kathleentrotter.com.

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