Snoek et al. (2018) found that incremental exercise increased VO2peak and survival in heart failure patients. The researchers showed that low intensity, high frequency training can improve peak oxygen uptake and workload capacity. They improved their hearts strength and endurance.
This study has similarities to Dan John and Pavel’s “Easy Strength” program (link below). To highly renown strength coaches. The program is built to improve your strength through low intensity, higher frequency training. The theory is training at a lower intensity allows you a faster recovery between workouts to increase overall strength over time.
This makes sense because research has shown that improved strength not only comes from the change in skeletal tissue but also from an increase in neural responses and innervations. There is the psychological factor that comes with training at a low intensity and everyone needs to pick something heavy up now and again. It is good for the soul but it doesn’t have to be every training session. Training at a lower intensity, with a higher frequency increases the time spent under the bar, allowing quality motor patterning. Motor patterning helps create and reestablish motor behavior. If you move better, you will feel better. This aids directly into the recovery, and due to the lower intensity of training, you allow your body to recover faster.
There is a lot to take away from this method of training. Now, it shouldn’t be the only approach you take throughout your exercise career, but it should be programmed in each year. The human body works well at low intensities and high frequencies, however responsibilities get in the way, so when we can’t get a workout in, we tend to turn up the dial on the next workout or even add the other one in, which is great sometimes, but it shouldn’t be thought as the only way to do it. The human body learns through frequencies, durations, intensities, internal and external feedback and socioeconomic environments. It doesn’t learn sustainable improvement through an acute workout but through the volume of acute workouts.
I know this to be true because I work with individuals who fight pulmonary and cardiovascular disease, neurological disorders, as well as with major league baseball players. This spectrum is very large, but in each situation, at some point there were 3-months of low intensity, high frequency training (some up to 12 months) and they all showed increased endurance and strength.
This is important to take in because a baseball player is fighting to get and/or stay in the big leagues, and the individual fighting a pulmonary disease is fighting to take another breathe and live another day. Both are looking for longevity but in different ways. Longevity can be defined in any way you would like however, when it is all said and done, we are all looking to age with grace. We want to live in happiness, move freely and live as long as we can with our loved ones.
“If it is important, do it every day, if it’s not important, don’t do it at all.”
– Dan John
Link to Easy Strength:
Snoek, A. J., Eijsvogels, M. H. T., Van ‘T Hof, W. J. A., Prescott, E., Hopman, M. T., Kolkman, E., & De Kluiver, P. ED. (2018). Impact of a graded exercise program on VO2peak and survival in heart failure patients. The American College of Sports Medicine, 50(11), 2185-2191.