I'm often asked, when people start private training (in their home, in a gym, or otherwise), "How many sessions should I get?" It's at this point I let them know their real question should be, "How many sessions per week should I do?" The reason for this is not to trick them into purchasing more sessions, but to show them how to get more out of the sessions they do end up getting.
So, the answer to that revised question is: It depends. The national recommendations are 150 minutes of low to moderate intensity or 75 minutes of high intensity exercise (or a combo of both) per week to maintain
current health and fitness. Read that again: MAINTAIN current health and fitness. Those numbers are the minimum requirements--meaning you won't improve your health and fitness unless you do more than that. Now, if someone is sedentary and just coming off the couch of course they will improve for a time, but soon that will level out to where their fitness level should be and they will need to do more.
I know, being of rational mind you're seeing '150' and '75' and thinking those numbers are to clean and rounded and can't possibly be scientifically accurate, and I would agree. The real numbers are different for everyone and without expensive equipment loaded with ding dongs, wires, and whosiewhatsits, there's no accurate way to pinpoint the numbers for each individual. They are really meant to be used as guidelines from where we can adjust per individual, and those guidelines have been relatively successful so far. It's the same as saying 3500 calories equals a pound. From the research I've read, it's really closer to 3554, but since we simple humans like things in nice, tidy packages, 3500 it is.
Back to the topic at hand.
The number of sessions you need to do per week depends on what you do when you're not with your trainer. If you see your trainer once a week for 60 minutes of high intensity exercise and don't do anything the next six days, you're not even meeting your maintenance goal. If one session per week is all you've budgeted for, then you need to make up the remainder of the maintenance minutes, plus the extra for improvement, on your own.
Let's say you buy 40 sessions at 60 minutes each and you plan on those 40 sessions being your only source of exercise until they are exhausted. Scheduling 2 per week is going to have vastly different results than if you scheduled those same 40 sessions at 3-4 per week. At 2 per week, you're only getting 120 minutes, where 3-4 per week gets you to your maintenance goals plus the extra needed to improve. On the flip-side, if you're overtraining, a number of reasons will keep you from improving--torn fibers that need to rest and repair, tiredness and soreness causing you to be not as effective, etc.
So really, no matter how many sessions you order, just make sure you are scheduling them close enough together (keeping in mind rest days) to make a difference, otherwise you're wasting your time and money.
Accountability has never been much of an issue for me but, as of today, I'm going to need it in spades. The purpose of this post is to publicly hold me to a pledge; a pledge that is going to have me doing something I've never liked and probably will never like to do. Ask me to lift some weights--I'll be there; do core exercises until my insides bleed--you got it; attempt some new and crazy exercise--I'm all about it. But, running? Hell no! I hate it. I hate everything about it. It bores me to no end and I just want to die when it's happening. There's an entire cornucopia of cardio exercises I love doing, but running is not one of them. As such, it is my weakness and one I never cared to attend to.
So what is it that's driving me to torture myself so? For the good part of a year, my son has been asking me to do the next level up in the Spartan trifecta: The Super. The Sprint was fun for me as there wasn't too much running between the obstacles. It was about 3-5 miles with around 20 obstacles. The Super is between 8 and 10 miles with 24-29 obstacles. I'm no math genius, but unless each obstacle spans roughly 1/4 to 1/2 mile, we're in for a lot of this 'one foot in front of the other' ad nauseam B.S. Ugh. But, before he heads off to college later this year, I felt compelled to grant his request and have an experience that would challenge both of us and strengthen that father and son bond even more.
So, this day marks the beginning of my training to keep up with my fleet-footed offspring. While I'll still be doing my usual weekly routines, I'll be adding the elliptical machine while it's cold outside then transitioning to outside jogs and runs when it warms up (no, I'm not running in the cold. I may be crazy, but I'm not insane--or is it the other way around?). Burpees will now be weighted and I will continue with my weighted and unweighted pull-ups to try and increase my strength and endurance even more. As it gets warmer, I may venture out into my backyard and try building representations of some of the tougher obstacles.
It's a long way to August, and I know I can do this, but at the same time it feels so close and that this body would be better served eating mountains of bacon while watching The Lord of the Rings Extended trilogy until I can replay its entirety in a pig fat induced coma. Sadly, that dream will have to wait.
While I may not make a post of everything I do to get ready, I have a plan laid out and I will keep a log for myself to track progress. Today was:
20 minutes on elliptical at level 18 of 20 (squat running for a minute every 4 minutes)
Four Times Through:
20 burpees (20#; 10# per hand): Includes shoulder press, jump, and push-up
Bodyweight pull-ups to failure:
1st Round: 24 standard grip
2nd Round: 14 close grip
3rd Round: 16 wide grip
4th Round: 17 standard grip
8 reps upright row (80#; 40# per hand)