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As we get older more and more of us are showing an interest in our fitness that we took for granted in our youth. But when start this new fitness journey what should we prioritize, strength training or cardiovascular. There is no doubt cardio has a place in healthy lifestyle but what does hours on treadmills, roads and bike bring to the table and can we get it else were?
Tradition Cardiovascular Fitness Training
For many over 40’s cardio has been seen as the key to fitness, with endurance sports especially, and to some extent I agree. So if you want to be a great endurance athlete or even just finish a fun run, you need to practice running.
Now the primary aim of cardiovascular exercise as its name suggests is to work the heart and lungs. So put on your running shoes and start pounding the streets and what happens. If you haven’t trained in a while you’re so out of breath after 100 yrs you have to walk the rest or worse stop and prop up a lamppost for a while. So as you gain more experience this easies and you can jog the whole route, great.
Now let’s look at what’s happening to your lower body. Each time your foot strikes the ground a shock wave passes up the body. This can have a major impact on joint health especially knees, hips and even backs.
Metabolism is raised while doing and traditional cardio so one hour at a decent intensity may burn off as many as six hundred Calories, which has obvious benefits to anyone trying to control body weight. This will then reduce down over the following two hours to return to normal. Now, this is giving you a net gain of say six hundred and twenty extra Calories for the day.
High Intensity Interval training
HIIT has been a hit for many in the last decade; it has many of the benefits of tradition cardio and can be done in far less time. Great you say.
Ok with HIIT your workout intensity is now going up your repetitions down, so what is happening to the lower body. We have reduced potential chronic wear and tear risk, but simply replaced it with an increased risk of acute injury of the soft tissues, such as ligaments, tendons and of course muscles.
Metabolism with HIIT is also raised and the same six hundred can be burn in just twenty minutes. On this occasion however, the metabolism takes longer to reduce to normal, as full recovery takes longer. We could be looking at twelve to twenty four hours of extra calorie expenditure. So in this case net gain could be around eight hundred to twelve hundred for the workout. You can see while it became so popular so quickly.
Lifting weights with good form while using a well constructed and periodised training programme, can not only make you stronger, but it can also improve structural alignment, provide support for joints (both cartilage and soft tissue), both of which reduces ware and injury risk. So when we do our running we remain injury free.
In addition strength training is CARDIOVASCULAR as well. Just take your heart rate after a set of heavy squats. It has been shown time and again to improve endurance performance, Mo Farah being a prime example. Reportedly after a training camp in the USA where he only did weight training he return to produce a PB.
Not only that but by increasing lean muscle tissue we raise metabolism permanently making weight control easier. If that was not enough benefit for weight control let’s look at the calories per session. In a one hour session we will probably but less than doing cardio, around four to four hundred and fifty Calories, but look what happens to the metabolism after. If you worked hard in your session your metabolism could be raised for two to three DAYS after the session. Let’s ‘do the math’ as the Americans would say. We have four hundred and fifty Calories from the session and then around five hundred additional calories from each day of recover, a net gain of one thousand nine hundred and fifty Calories a workout. We aim for three thousand five hundred calorie deficit a week for a one pound weight loss, so just two one hour workouts is enough for one pound of FAT loss a week.
But it doesn’t stop there!
Health benefits of just do weight training far outweigh those of just doing cardio. There is now a stack of evidence showing the more muscle you have in later life the long and better quality of life you are likely to have, and none of us are getting any younger.
I’m not against cardio and if you are training for a specific event like a marathon you will need to get your miles in. What I am saying is at least once or preferably twice a week, you need to go do so strength training and pick up something heavy.
If you are new to weight training or need help putting together a good training plan, get some qualified help, learning good technique early is far better than fixing it later when the damage is done. Machines, functional training and Crossfit are all ok in your first six months, after that you need then need to learn to progress your lifting properly to remain successful in your health and fitness goals.
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