How to win as a weekend warrior?


In sports context, the term weekend warrior refers to people too busy to exercise during the workweek, taking it all back with heavy training during weekends. While training on weekends is obviously hugely better than not training at all, there are pitfalls to be aware of.

Let’s take an example. Meet Jeff, 38 years, living with his wife and three kids, working long hours in finance.

Jeff used to be a semi-pro athlete in his college years. He was a regular at the campus gym, won medals in tennis, and regularly went for long distance runs.

Graduation, career in finance, and family with kids turned Jeff’s priorities upside down. As he simply didn’t have time to maintain his workout schedule, he found his results going down. Ultimately, demotivated, Jeff quit sports altogether. He didn’t miss sports really; there were so many things in his life keeping him occupied.

Nearing 40, Jeff found himself with an overweight body and stress-related back aches. Exercise was obviously the thing needed to get back in shape.

Jeff shuffled his schedules to make room for sports. Weekdays were still a no-go, so he needed to focus his efforts on weekends.

Jeff took up gym and running. He went on early morning runs on both Saturdays and Sundays, followed by gym training sessions in the afternoons. The results were fast and highly positive: Jeff began losing weight and noted his energy levels go up.

As Jeff’s performance levels increased, he began pushing harder: he knew he could, after all he’d done it before. "How about running a marathon before I turn 40", Jeff thought to himself.

But increased efforts took their toll. Jeff simply didn’t recover as fast as in his teens. With heavy training on Saturdays, he noticed that he couldn’t match his stretched targets on Sundays without feeling pain.

As an analytical person Jeff figured that he needed to reorganize his weekend training sessions to ensure he had enough time between two heavy exercise sessions – perhaps with some lighter training in between.

Thanks to listening to his body and rethinking his workouts, Jeff avoided the two pitfalls typical to middle-aged weekend warriors:

  1. Leveled or decreased performance. There is a limit to which a body can be pushed, especially after years of little to no sports. Heavy training before adequate recovery may be even counterproductive, which makes it extremely challenging to organize a weekend-only schedule for goal-oriented training.
  2. Injury due to suboptimal reaction times. Our neuromuscular system is responsible for both reaction times and precision of movement. In sports requiring skill, speed and strength, neuromuscular fatigue due to incomplete recovery leads to a serious risk of injury.

Listening to your body is the answer. A regular measure of the state of our neuromuscular system helps optimize training. We are seldom too worn out to do anything at all – but doing the right thing at the right time is a favor to both our body and our performance.

Being a weekend warrior is certainly better than spending weekends on the couch. At Checkmylevel, we’re all about helping our clients train smart.


Disclaimer: Jeff is a fictional character but in real-life he could be just any warrior out there.

Ville Simola
Ville Simola


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