WEEKEND WARRIORS UNITE! Is it OK to be a Weekend Warrior?


Is it OK to be a Weekend Warrior?

The short answer: apparently yes. If you would like the long answer on how to be a weekend warrior read on.

According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, a weekend warrior is a person who participates in a physically strenuous activity only on weekends or part-time. The expression was first known to be used in 1981 when marathoning started coming into style after the 1970’s running boom and after the first Ironman in 1978. Training on the weekends became a necessity for the time-crunched age group athlete.

The average person with a job and 2 kids wanted to try Ironman events but quickly realized they didn’t have the time to train all day like the pros. And so entered the Iron Weekend Warrior: the girl or guy who wants to complete an Ironman but simply doesn’t have the time during the week to put in the long hours.

As a professional triathlon coach, I have seen two types of Weekend Warriors:

Warrior 1: Signed up for an Ironman with no previous triathlon experience and trains sporadically on weekends only, with no coach. Completes long distances on weekends 6-9 weeks before the event. Maybe gets injured and then hopes to heck that everything will fall into place on race day including pacing, nutrition, and equipment.

Warrior 2: Has completed some triathlons and starts training 6-9 months before the Ironman. Completes long planned workouts on the weekends with short higher intensity workouts during the week.

As you can imagine our Warrior 2 is more likely to get to the finish line injury free and have had a little fun along the way. Warrior 1 may still get to the finish line but there is a good chance she/he will be injured, dehydrated, overhydrated, undernourished, vomiting, nipples bleeding, feet covered in blisters, in the medical tent or downright exhausted. Warrior 1 may get the IM tattoo but there is a strong likelihood that they will never do a triathlon again!

The weekend warrior phenomenon is such a common training strategy that researchers decided they wanted to see what the efficacy of this type of training is. In 2017 Gary O’Donovan et al studied - The weekend warrior physical activity patterns and mortality followed by another study headed up by Mark Hamer et al in 2017 on - The weekend warrior physical activity pattern: how little is enough. This is what they discovered:

1)      Weekend warriors who met recommended exercise guidelines (including those who exercised just once or twice a week but did so vigorously for at least 75 minutes, or at moderate intensity for at least 150 minutes) had a reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease, cancer, or other causes.”

We can now safely say that being a weekend warrior is good for our health although they didn’t study the impact of injuries on this group.

The next study which is more pertinent to the Iron endurance junkies is - Does cumulating endurance training at the weekends impair training effectiveness. This was the result:

2) “In a middle-aged population of healthy untrained subjects, cumulating the training load at the weekends does not lead to an impairment of endurance gains in comparison with a smoother training distribution.”


It IS ok to cumulate the majority of your training on the weekends but please do me a favor, be the Warrior 2, not the Warrior 1.

Julia Aimers, CSEP Certified Exercise Physiologist, Certified Triathlon Coach is the Owner and Head Coach of Team Triumph Triathlon Club, Ottawa.


Check out our Iron Weekend Warrior Black Friday Flash Sale on Nov 23. Get a 10% discount when you register for the Saturday Long Spin/Run/Strength and Sunday Swim. Details info@pbest.ca

1)      The underappreciated health benefits of being a weekend warrior by Robert Shmerling MD, Harvard Health Blog. Feb 16, 2017. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/underappreciated-health-benefits-weekend-warrior-2017021611167

  1. T. Meyer et al. 2006 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16874148

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