Or has Strength Training been overhyped of late?
Interesting question, don’t you think? I mean, wouldn’t it be great news if you could really just ditch the long and boring cardio sessions? If it were true that what Naturalnews.com recently reported, “Strength Training, more than walking and cycling, significantly reduces heart disease risk”.
This would be great news for us all! If so, we could focus only on building that muscle mass and at the same time building heart health, instead of wasting our precious time on cardio exercises, right?
Not so fast! Unfortunately, the quoted article is badly flawed and incorrect. Here is an excerpt from the article:
“The health benefits of strength training
Strength (or resistance) training challenges the muscles with a stronger-than-usual counterforce, like pushing against a wall or lifting a dumbbell. By using progressively heavier weights or increasing resistance, you can make your muscles stronger.
Strength training increases muscle mass, strengthens bones, and tones muscles. It also helps you maintain the strength necessary for daily activities like climbing the stairs or lifting the groceries.
The current national guidelines for physical activity recommend strength exercises for all major muscle groups, which includes your chest, abdomen, shoulders, arms, legs, hips, and back, about twice a week. A set of at least 8-12 repetitions of the same movement, per session, is effective.”
Now that being said, they are not wrong with the above statement, however, the article as a whole is misleading and provides no evidence whatsoever that Strength Training is better for your heart health or that it reduces heart disease risk more than Cardio Training does. However, it’s totally incomplete.
Walking, jogging, swimming, biking, hiking and many more cardio activities greatly support your bone density, build muscle and overall strength, which GREATLY supports daily activities, such as lifting grocery shopping and climbing stairs, as well as just breathing!
The Benefits of Cardio.
What Cardio Training also does, is build heart (and all organ) health, expand your lung capacity, clears your mind, reduces stress and opens up those creative pathways in your brain. One other thing that Cardio doesn’t do to your heart, if done correctly, Cardio doesn’t make you release the Fight or Flight hormone, Cortisol into your bloodstream. What’s does correctly mean? Simple; all cardio exercise is supposed to be performed in the aerobic state, not anaerobic.
This is where the problem lies. Many (or most) exercise enthusiasts actually perform cardio in the anaerobic state, which means they are burning glucose for fuel, not fat. Being in the anaerobic state is stressful to your body and heart. So what does your system do? It produces the stress hormone, cortisol, to warn you that you are being stressed and overheated, and this is supposed to make you slow down!
Our natural warning system is meant for just that, to warn us about danger so we avert it. Now, people running and spinning for hours on end at super high heart rates, puffing and panting, sweating like crazy, think they are doing a great job with their cardio, because they feel great afterwards (excessive endorphin release is the cause for that feeling).
Bad news! What these folks are really doing is:
- Pumping excessive cortisol into the bloodstream, which is damaging to the heart.
- Burning glucose for fuel, yet not an ounce of fat. Once the glucose in the bloodstream is spent, your system will attack your muscle fibre and convert it to glucose with a process called gluconeogenesis.
- Creating a slow burnout syndrome for themselves, as this behaviour will eventually exhaust you.
Strength Training Stresses Your Heart.
The same holds true for Strength Training. If you are performing strength training correctly, you should be lifting weights with decent resistance so that this training even has an effect on your muscles. If you are lifting too light, you might as well not bother. But lifting heavy, lifting heavy things we say, is also stressful on your heart, as this will jack up your heart rate to 150 or higher during the sets. As with exaggerated cardio, this prompts the release of cortisol to warn us that we are being stressed. Behaviour like this can lead to heart disease or stroke.
The way around it is to keep your strength training sessions short and focused and no more than 2 per week. Mobilising each muscle group by using your body as your gym, with exercises such as push-ups, squats, planks, lunges, pull-ups, dips and handstands.
Rounding it all Up:
What we truly need to pay the most attention to is our hearts and other organs. These have been the most neglected over time. For that, we need to start eating healthy food, which would be a real natural diet, Ketogenic or Primal. That’s how humans were created and survived through harsh living circumstances for thousands and thousands of years. This approach will help our bodies heal from within.
Next, we need to move, move a lot. We need to get off our butts every hour and walk, stretch or do some push-ups or squats. Then we need to exercise regularly, but sensibly.
A week’s routine looks like this:
- Perform aerobic cardio at least 5 hours per week.
- Strength Training 2 x per week, preferably working out all muscle groups in each session, using your body as your gym.
- Sprint 1 x per week.
- Perform Yoga, Thai Boxing or other such fun and or relaxing activity 1 x per week.
- Meditate every day.
That’s it, folks. The above weekly routines encompass everything your body and mind need to benefit the most from exercise and nutrition, to build a healthy heart, strong bones and lean muscle, oh and a happy and healthy you!
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Former Olympic Athlete & Health Coach
“I want to show people how to lose weight effectively and build a strong, healthy heart, body and mind! Learning to eat clean and move efficiently will change your life, no matter your age. I’ll be talking and writing about how to achieve your best possible healthy lifestyle all day long, as this is my absolute passion today, to help thousands regain their health and to live a longer happier life!”