Fitness: How often should you train for the dream figure?

JEvery summer, the fight against love starts again for many people – a proper beach figure must be found, and as soon as possible. It should now be clear that this can not be done with a starvation diet alone. Only a healthy diet and a strict exercise plan can actually remedy this.

But how often should you exercise per week? Every day, is it perhaps more effective, or are weekends enough – and if so, how long and intensive should the training be so that results can be seen as soon as possible? The best thing to do is ask a personal trainer directly: Arlow Pieniak, as a movement therapist and trainer in Hamburg, makes weak people fit in his studio Work it, which is also popular with fashion bloggers!

Intense training is more effective

Recent studies indicate that intense workouts in short intervals (ie High Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT for short) are the most effective when it comes to burning fat. Pieniak agrees, for the body actually uses only its “valuable” fat reserves, which thousands of years ago were actually essential in case of food shortages, when it absolutely must be.

And it is precisely this emergency that you trick your body into thinking with high-intensity interval training, says Pienak: “Maybe it’s about life, the effort is so great that the body can only do it if it goes beyond what is freely available. Carbohydrates in the blood and in the muscles also get the energy from the fat reserves. ”

Strength or endurance training? It’s all connected – it’s best to vary the sport several times

Source: Getty Images

In the long run, it has the advantage, the fitness expert explains, that the body becomes more and more efficient at burning fat. A person who does HIIT every day will eventually end up using more energy than they put into their body – also known as negative energy balance. Still, “the thought is the quiet endurance training proportionately burns more fat, true, but not in absolute numbers. A misunderstanding that continues. “

So in terms of fat burning and all that is cardiovascular, high heart rate training (like HIIT) is more effective than moderate training. “However, moderate exercise can do one very important thing better: reduce stress. It may not be the focus of many people, but a high level of stress is not only unhealthy, it is also bad for burning fat,” says Pieniak. continuous loads definitely have a fixed place in the training plan.

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So often you have to train in a week

Does a lot really help a lot? Yes, says the fitness expert from Hamburg, because “our body is designed for training, only lack of training damages it”. However, do not overdo it, if you have not trained so often before, do not train six days a week, but steadily increase the number of workouts. And those who do not train at all or people with very little time, who still do not want to look completely untrained, can do well with three units a week, says Arlow Pieniak.

It should include a sporty week

HIIT, yoga, Pilates, jogging, swimming, strength training – the offer is almost inexhaustible and more far-reaching than a week has days. But what sports really bring something when it comes to the perfect figure? “Here I will share, if you are only looking for the health or visual benefits, you should deal with strength training and HIIT.” For these two sports belong to the category of “training” – so they have no other goal than to change the body positively. “Not only in terms of weight loss, but also to eliminate pain or poor posture.”

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“On the other hand, sports such as yoga, pilates, jogging or swimming are about the very goals of the sport.” While trying to master certain figures in eg yoga, you try to be particularly fast or enduring when jogging and swimming, when climbing and bouldering to overcome new levels of difficulty. So it’s not so much about changing the body with such sports – it’s a positive side effect, but never the primary goal. This type of sport should always be chosen based on personal preferences and the fun factor.

These exercises should not be missing in any training plan

When it comes to strength training, the personal trainer recommends the following basic exercises: squats, push-ups, deadlifts and bench presses or push-ups – because they form the basic pattern of human movement. “Only those who have mastered these exercises should dare to do more complex things such as lunges, jumps or kettlebell turns,” advises Pieniak.

Yoga is less about training the body and more about reaching new goals - but it also belongs in an effective training plan

Yoga is less about training the body and more about reaching new goals – but it also belongs in an effective training plan

Source: Getty Images

In high-intensity interval training, on the other hand, the exercises must be chosen according to personal preferences and ability. “Whether you do HIIT on a stationary bike, running track or kettlebell depends on how fit you are and what you enjoy doing.”

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Time to exercise and rest

Here, of course, can not be generalized either: the duration of the training depends on your own fitness and the training goal to be achieved. Arlow Pieniak recommends 30 to 40 minutes for strength training for beginners and 5 to 25 minutes for HIIT or similar interval training.

Exercising seven days a week does not benefit the body, it also needs rest days. Beginners in particular should coordinate sports and rest phases according to their own training level and not train more than three days with four rest days a week. Professional athletes, on the other hand, train several hours up to three times a day, depending on the sport.

How long the training takes always depends on your own training level - beginners should not overdo it

How long the training takes always depends on your own training level – beginners should not overdo it

Source: Getty Images

And what does the expert recommend for ugly sore muscles? There are different opinions about whether you should train or take a break: “If you have sore muscles, do not repeat the same exercise that caused the sore muscles. Because the muscle has not yet regenerated, and the risk of injury is therefore higher. ” If muscle soreness occurs during strength training, HIIT or moderate endurance training, on the other hand, is an option – both help the muscle to regenerate, Pieniak explains.

Sports units in everyday life as a training substitute?

If you do not have much time or you are rather skeptical about the sport itself, you can easily incorporate certain training units into your everyday life, for example by going up stairs instead of taking the elevator. First and foremost, according to Arlow Pieniak, it is really important to integrate the right movements into his everyday life. In other words, to stand right, walk or move at all.

However, a conceptual distinction needs to be made at this point, Pieniak says. “Exercise sets training-effective stimuli that make the body change something. Lose fat, build muscle or something. Physical exertion in itself, as the name suggests, can be very strenuous, but it is not a training stimulus. “

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In order to systematically change one’s body, precisely controlled stimuli must build on each other – and this is practically impossible in everyday life. Working in the garden or lugging around shopping bags is strenuous, but does not give the body any training-effective stimuli to increase performance. “It’s very good and healthy to take the stairs, bike and so on, but it’s not exercise.”

The right diet

No dream figure can be achieved with just sports – nutrition is also essential. Therefore, you should eat more vegetables, proteins (from fish and meat) and high quality fats from nuts and oils in the sports phase and avoid sugar, white flour, “bad” fats and alcohol.

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However, most people who start exercising and change their diet at the same time make the mistake of consuming too little energy. And after a short time, they stop both the sport and the diet change. ” The personal trainer advises that you therefore eat both high quality and adequate food. And it’s often harder than you think.

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Visible successes come quickly

With the right training and the right diet, the first visible results can be seen already after four weeks. However, the Hamburg movement therapist warns against orienting oneself too much on the scales. “So much happens in the body with such a change that you can easily lose two kilos of fat mass without losing a gram on the weight.” He recommends buying pliers or even easier to take a before and after picture. However, it should then be judged by someone else, because as always you are the worst judge of yourself – at least visually.

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More information about Arlow Pieniak and his training programs is available at

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This article was first published in July 2017.

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