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I'm new to strength training, and, for the time being, can do it only 1 once a week (or maybe every other week). I do aerobic several times a week, and, currently, can't give it up.

Should I follow Starting Strength and just space it out? Or something else?

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If you use those same muscles during aerobics, I'm sure it'll benefit you (given you have enough rest) –  Ivo Flipse May 6 '12 at 9:34
    
Are you assuming you can't do Starting Strength workouts on the same days as aerobic exercise? Or do you actually not have time? –  user3085 May 6 '12 at 16:54
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Doing it once a week and doing aerobics means you are not doing the SS program. startingstrength.com/articles/clarification_rippetoe.pdf –  Wayne In Yak May 7 '12 at 17:07
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3 Answers 3

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Starting Strength is an AB alternating workout, so if you were to do it once every week (or every other week) then you'd have almost a full month before you did the same workout again. This is definitely not optimal. However, since Starting Strength is such a balanced routine, it won't be the end of the world.

Now, some strength training will always be better than none, so it is good that you are at least doing this; however it does beg the question, "why can't you fit more into your schedule?" You would be surprised how easy it is to fit working out into even busy schedules.

Strength training doesn't have to be time consuming. Going back to the principle of something being better than nothing, even if you can only do 5-15 minutes your time would be well spent.

I would suggest trying to add a 5-10 minute routine MWF on top of everything you're doing now and seeing if that works for you. It doesn't have to be complex or equipment heavy either, you can just focus on compound body weight workouts that you can do anywhere and anytime. Possible exercises include:

  • Squats (wall, pistol, standard, romanian)
  • lunges (forward or backward)
  • push-ups (standard, wide, military, decline)
  • pull-ups (chin, standard, wide)
  • planks (standard, side, bird dog)
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You will be severely limiting your strength gains. Note that I am talking about the amount of strength you will be able to gain, not just the rate of gaining strength.

In order to understand why, you have to understand a bit about General Adaptation Syndrome. Essentially, to disrupt homeostasis (the body's current happy place) to build strength you need to induce a certain amount of stress. That stress is in the style of strength training like Starting Strength. After that stress, you need to recover and during that time your body will super-compensate--making you stronger... Yay! Unfortunately, if you don't keep the regular frequency of the training, you won't be causing enough stress to force adaptation. Furthermore, the adaptation you are putting your body through with aerobics is working against the strength training (which is anaerobic). Essentially, what you do more of will win out.

I would start seriously considering the following questions:

  • Why do I want to do Starting Strength (SS)?
  • Why don't I want to lower the amount of aerobics I'm doing?
  • What do I want from my training time?
  • What trade-offs am I willing to make?

Also consider the fact you can continue gaining strength doing the SS protocol while you are doing aerobics. Of course, you will get to a point where the aerobics may cause you to stall a bit quicker because you don't have enough rest. A valid way to do balance the two is to add 20 minutes of aerobics after your SS workout.

But it's time to get honest with your goals and what you want to do. If aerobics is meeting all your needs, why do you even want to do SS? Essentially, all your training is a balancing act of priorities. At different times in your training one thing may have a higher priority than others, but that doesn't mean that they get completely cut out. If you want to emphasize strength, you'll probably have to de-emphasize aerobics.

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+1. Re-evaluating your goals is very important when your schedule gets so big you cannot do everything without something suffering. –  Moses May 7 '12 at 15:04
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A Starting-Strength-style workout would be fine once a week. But Starting Strength the program will not work for very long with once-weekly workouts interspersed with aerobics. You won't be able to advance far in adding weight.

If you have to, lift once a week. But understand that modifying the program will make it less effective.

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