Friday, October 23, 2009

Which is better for you, strength training or cardio training?

I read an article the other day in the Washington Post citing Consumer Reports research answering that very question. I thought you might wonder about the very same question the article addressed. It’s kind of a trick question, but there IS a better answer. And I’ll paraphrase the benefits.

To begin, you need both. I’ll go to my grave preaching the ‘Three-Legged Stool of Body Transformation’. You need all three legs; strength, cardio, and nutrition to maximize your results in the quickest possible time. A stool can’t stand on 2 legs.

But if I had to choose between strength and cardio -- I’d choose strength training in a nanosecond. Here’s why...

Strength training not only has the benefits of using resistance against your body, but it also has similar benefits as cardio (also called endurance training) and then some. Here are the top 5 reasons to make sure strength training is included in your health and fitness program.

Gets your heart pumping. Do one set of walking lunges or squats, both popular strength training exercises, and you’ll quickly see what it does for the heart. In one study of 72 men and women, half did 5 days of cardio and half did 3 days of cardio and 2 days of strength. The group that incorporated strength training reached the same level of aerobic fitness PLUS benefits not experienced by the other group such as increased strength and muscle and a decrease in body fat.

Builds and strengthens bone. If you have any sign of osteopenia or osteoporosis then strength training is a MUST. To maintain their density, bones must be stressed by weight bearing or resistance exercises. These conditions can easily be bettered, even reversed, if done consistently and correctly.

Increased mobility. Maybe you’re not concerned about this now. But there will be a point when you are. Of course, I’m not just talking about getting up and down off the floor. I’m also talking about walking up a flight of stairs, lugging groceries to and fro, and carrying luggage when traveling. Strength training makes everyday tasks easier. And you won’t risk throwing your back out because you were playing around with your kids.

Metabolic booster. Strength training builds lean muscle mass. It firms and strengthens your muscles. When you do that, not only do you feel stronger, fitter, and more confident about yourself, but you raise your resting metabolic rate (RMR). This is the rate at which your body burns calories when you’re just sitting there. Doing nothing. How cool is that? You’ll burn more calories just sitting in front of your computer. And that only happens through strength training.

Joint support. Further, strength training has a lot of benefits for your joints. It relieves joint pain. Yes, it really does! One study showed pain for knee arthritis cut in half after an eight week strength training program. And there was no improvement seen in the control group. Strength training also strengthens ligaments, muscles, and tendons. This makes your ankle, hip, knee, and shoulder joints more stable. And that pressure will even help grow new cartilage helping protect from degeneration over time.

These are some big time benefits. Oh yeah, let’s not forget toning up a hard body, burning your unwanted body fat and looking AND feeling better than ever! There are too many benefits. But you’re smart enough to see them all. So are you strength training to experience those benefits?

Many are not. That’s not a guess. I talk to folks every day about their exercise and nutrition. And every time I talk with someone they are missing the boat when it comes to strength training.

If you need help putting together a strength training program that works for you please call or email me to schedule a consultation.

To your fitness success,

Tim Chudy
Fitness Together

P.S. If you’re over 65 years old, this is even more important. An estimated one in three adults over 65 years of age will suffer from a fall this year. And the consequences can be severe. It is vitally important for older adults to incorporate strength training in their lives. I know you know someone over the age of 65 (maybe it’s you). Ask them if they are strength training. It’s likely they’re not. Forward this article to them and have them call me directly to set up an appropriate program for them. I can be reached directly at 314.863.7799.

P.P.S. You can request your consultation here. Or if you'd like more info on our programs and services I'll email you our infopack.