Weight Train Once a Week!

Sylvia Leong, LEONG Orthopaedic Health
Sylvia Leong, LEONG Orthopaedic Health

WOW! You Only Need to Weight Train Once a Week?

It’s true! You only need to commit to ONE full-body weight training session per week. You only need to pay your personal trainer for ONE visit a week (assuming you do your cardio on your own).

Most people already subscribe to an all or nothing approach to their goals. Sports media hypes the same attitude toward exercise.

Most believe they have to shoot for athlete level, or there’s no point in trying. So they puff themselves up, make an emotional, determined resolution that this time they’re GONNA DO IT! They commit to going to the gym somewhere between 3 – 7 times a week … and fail.


It’s simply not feasible over the long term. To put it bluntly: because most people have more important things to do. So they stop exercising completely.

Tony Leong, LEONG Orthopaedic Health
Tony Leong, LEONG Orthopaedic Health

Most believe that huge time and energy commitments are required to accomplish health and fitness, and anything less is not worth doing. With this belief, the goal of becoming fit and healthy looms large—an impossible-to-climb brick wall. Many sedentary people find themselves discouraged before they even try.

Not everybody is interested in committing to become an athlete! Not everyone has the inclination or the time donate to extreme fitness.

What about the CEO of a prominent corporation. Or an award winning architect known for monumental landmarks. Or even a best-selling author whose novels are translated in 17 different languages. Their time is sacrosanct!

Are you one of these successful, time pressed individuals?

Yes, you are!

Save time and money. Spare your body the inflammation that causes pesky aches, pains, injuries, and even illness from over-training.

Yet ensure optimal health by:

  • Strengthening and stretching once per week at the gym to maintain your muscle mass.
  • Combining cardio/movement into fun and social time with family and friends.

Are you ready to weight train once a week (full-body session) and watch your body transform!

Personal Training

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Wait! You don’t believe it? No problem. ↓↓↓ More information. ↓↓↓

The Physiology Of Weight Training | Why Weight Training Once A Week Works!

  1. Training to complete muscular exhaustion ensures that you’ve exhausted all the muscle fibres in that particular muscle group (see Henneman’s Size Principle).
  2. By exhausting all the muscle fibres in that particular muscle group, you’ve stimulated each and every fibre to build new contractile units over the next week.
  3. The muscles actually need 6 to 7 days to recover completely. Training them more often interferes with the recovery process and causes inflammation.
  4. New contractile units in each and every muscle fibre equates to stronger and bigger muscles!

Note: For those who are interested; at the bottom of this article is a glossary of terms. Here is a further explanation of the physiology of why you only need to weight train once a week.

It Even Works For The Big Boys!

Weight Train Once a Week!
Arthur Jones

The principles of The WOW Method are not original. It started with a gentleman named, Arthur Allen Jones, who invented the Nautilus exercise machines. Jones developed the basic tenet principles of High Intensity Training (HIT) as an alternative to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s ideal of hour upon hour of weight-lifting in the gym.

HIT advocates:

  • Lifting the weight with strict form and a slow and controlled cadence until momentary muscular failure. This stimulates all muscle fibres in the targeted muscle group.
  • Allowing adequate rest time between workouts to ensure full recovery of the muscle.
  • Progressive overload – as strength increases, the weight increases.

Among some of the famous bodybuilders who practiced Jones’ HIT are Casey Viator, Lee Labrada, Mike Mentzer, Sergio Oliva and Dorian Yates.

Different authors have taken Jones’ HIT method and modified it. For instance, Ellington Darden believed in full body workouts while Dorian Yates split his workouts into four different sessions a week. Mike Mentzer advocated in his book, High Intensity Training the Mike Mentzer Way, only one set per muscle group until muscular failure and then rest for 4 -7 days. Dr. Doug McGuff recommends in his book, Body By Science, 5 different exercises using HIT with super slow reps for 90 seconds each.

Wait! But I Don’t Want to Be a Bodybuilder!

Most don’t. We understand that you don’t want to be that weird, muscle-bound gym person. We get it! We aren’t weird, muscle-bound gym people either.

The fact is that most bodybuilders are bodybuilders because they have a mesomorphic body type and they possess the correct genetics. Not to mention they have the desire to become bodybuilders and the will to make it happen.

Very rarely will a man or woman grow more muscle mass than they want. If you are mesomorphic and start to become “too big”, then weight train once every two weeks … or even only once a month.

The main goal is to preserve your muscle mass as you become older and prevent it from withering.

Case-in-point: if the bodybuilders above could achieve their ideal form by weight training once per week, then doesn’t it stand to reason that you’ll be able to make significant gains using the same method?

Weight Train Once a Week!

  • Ectomorphic: long, thin muscle and low fat storage. Not predisposed to store fat or build muscle.
  • Mesomorphic: large bones, above average muscle mass. Predisposed to build muscle.
  • Endomorphic: medium bone structure, wide hips. Predisposed to store fat.

Weight Train Once a Week!

It’s Important for EVERYONE to Weight Train Once a Week!

Burn fat like you used to years ago.

A higher metabolism consumes fat faster than a lower metabolism. Slow metabolism during hibernation can sustain a bear without eating, for months. Speed up and keep that metabolism high!

Muscles are the engines that burn calories.

Sometime between the ages of 25 to 35, you start to lose half a pound of muscle per year. Unfortunately, a lost muscle fibre can never be re-gained. Year after year, as the muscle fibre loss accumulates, the amount of calories you burn decreases as well. This is why people seem to replace muscle with fat as they age.

However, if you weight train, you keep most of your muscle. You also build up existing muscle mass while you’re at it (meaning, you grow more contractile units into the existing muscle fibres).

Weight lifting leads to increased muscle strength and size, which in turn boosts your metabolism. Increased metabolism will burn more calories for as long as you have that muscle density—even while sleeping!

Increased muscle mass = Increased metabolism = Increased calories burned = Increased fat loss!

Another perk, increased muscle mass helps the body to manage blood sugar levels. Meaning, you can get away with a little more sugar (or alcohol, bread, potatoes, pasta) before your body will convert it to fat.

EVERYONE needs to weight train with correct form, impeccable posture and an effective amount of weight. (Although for some people a physician’s clearance may be necessary)

Why Wait Seven Days Before Hitting the Gym Again?

As Dr. Doug McGuff states, “’the average muscle recovery time for the general population is seven days.” The building of new tissues within the body can only happen at a set rate. At this set rate it usually takes a full seven days to:

  • Dissipate the fatigue and inflammation
  • Repair the tears in the muscle fibres
  • Build new contractile units within the muscle fibres
  • Strengthen the tendons, ligaments, fascia and bones so that they are strong enough to support the stronger muscles

Even if seven days seems like a long time, rest assured, you will not start to lose muscle during that time (unless you lack nutrients).

Why Only One Set per Muscle Group?

Weight Train Once a Week!
Dr. Doug McGuff

Dr. Doug McGuff states that multiple weight-training sets are akin to pressing the elevator button repeatedly—when the first press of the elevator button already called the elevator car.

Ditto! One set is all it takes to stimulate the building of new contractile units within the muscle fibre. Further sets simply increase the fatigue, wear and tear, and inflammation. Then, the body has to expend more energy to recover.

How Heavy Should I Weight Train?

Dr. Doug McGuff explains in his book, Body by Science that light weights are not effective. The slow twitch fibres will be recruited first. But because they fatigue so slowly, by the time the fast twitch fibres are starting to be triggered, some of the slow-twitch motor units will have started to recover and are cycling back into the contraction process. This prevents the fast-twitch fibres from being further engaged.

He talks about a similar problem with weights that are too heavy allowing too few repetitions. All the motor units (fast and slow) are engaged, but the fast-twitch units fatigue so quickly that the muscle will fail before all the slow twitch fibres are properly stimulated.

Dr. McGuff argues that a moderately heavy weight allows full recruitment and stimulation of all muscle fibres by the time the muscle has completely failed and the set is completed.

Am I Too Old to Weight Train?

Weight Train Once a Week!
Clarence Bass at 70 years old!

It’s never too late to start! Anyone from the age of 14 onward can and will reap staggering results from weight training. (Although a doctor’s medical clearance might be necessary.)

Many elderly men and women stay healthy through an exercise regime that includes weight training. Clarence Bass, born in 1937, is one such gentleman. He’s the author of a fitness blog and many books including, Take Charge: Fitness at the Edge of Science.

As per the study, High-Intensity Strength Training in Nonagenarians, Effects on Skeletal Muscle:

  • A high-intensity weight-training program is capable of inducing dramatic increases in muscle strength in frail men and women aged in their 90s, in spite of their advanced age, extremely sedentary habits, multiple chronic diseases, functional disabilities, and nutritional inadequacies.

Our own observations:

  • Low-to-moderate resistance training has produced little or no increase in strength in older subjects.
  • Strength gains are due, first to improved neural recruitment patterns, while hypertrophy comes later.

But, is it useful to me?

Yes! Healthy, happy, independent living  requires strength, flexibility and functional movements.

“… it seems that exercise interventions that include endurance, strength, and muscle power training should be prescribed to frail elderly in order to improve the functional capacity.” Source: Strength and Endurance Training Prescription in Healthy and Frail Elderly

The Ten Principles of “The WOW Method”:

  1. Each muscle group is strengthened no more than once a week. This means a full body workout including nine exercises for the prime mover muscles and further various exercises—prescribed as needed—for the accessory muscles.
  2. There should be only one set per exercise.
  3. Repetitions should be slow and controlled, and executed with strict form and perfect posture.
  4. The set is finished only once the targeted muscle group has come to complete muscular failure. (It’s not absolutely necessary to take the set to complete muscular failure—it’s just the most efficient way to gain strength and muscle.)
  5. If the muscle group fails before the 14th repetition, the weight is too heavy and is decreased slightly during the next week’s workout.
  6. If the muscle group fails on or after the 20th repetition, the weight is increased slightly during the following week’s workout.
  7. For the duration of the set, the abdominal muscles below the belly button must remain fully contracted whilst allowing the rib-cage to relax for maximum breathing capacity.
  8. Exhaling upon exertion reduces the pressure on the heart and blood vessels. So, be sure to exhale during the contraction phase of the exercise. Inhale deeply while returning to the starting position.
  9. The targeted muscle group should be stretched immediately following completion of the set. The muscle group is warm from exertion and thus, it maximizes the benefit of the stretch.
  10. With all decisions, the top priority throughout is to maintain muscle balance and to ensure the optimal health of all the soft tissues and joints.


  • Accessory muscles are the stabilizers and the assisting muscles that sometimes get left behind with ongoing weight-training (Infraspinatus, Serratus Anterior, Gluteus Medius).
  • Complete Muscular Failure means continuing to perform repetitions until the point of momentary muscular failure where, although you are engaged in lifting the weight (eg. bicep curl), the arm will no longer move because all motor units have been exhausted. Note: It is not absolutely necessary to lift to the point of complete muscular failure, it’s just the most efficient way to gain strength and size.
  • Fast Twitch Motor Unit is comprised of a nerve and many fast twitch muscle fibres. These fast twitch fibres fire rapidly, therefore fatigue quickly.
  • Ligaments are the fascial tissue that connects bone to bone thereby stabilizing a joint.
  • Prime Mover Muscles are the primary muscles that act directly to bring about a desired movement (quadriceps during squats, latissimus dorsi in lat pulldowns & triceps brachii while dong close grip, bench press).
  • Repetition (rep) is the controlled lifting and lowering of the weight through the full range of motion.
  • Set consists of several repetitions without resting in between.
  • Slow Twitch Motor Unit is comprised of a nerve and many slow twitch muscle fibres. These fibres fire slowly. Therefore, they are able to maintain continuous muscle contractions over extended periods of time.
  • Tendons are the fascial tissue that connects the muscle to the bone.


Evidence based research has become so de rigueur that every theory is expected to be based upon it. However, we can’t help but notice that with just a bit of research on Google, any theory can easily be either proven or disproven.

Both above and below we’ve included several studies, or articles based upon studies. However, The WOW Method (created by LEONG Orthopaedic Health) is mostly based upon the last twenty-five years of results with our clientele.

– LEONG Orthopaedic Health

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