WORKOUTS FOR THE PERSON WITH NO TIME
Time. It seems that these days few people have enough of it. For some, this has made exercising difficult. Let me walk that back a bit. People's busy lives have made them think they don't have time to exercise. It's created an almost built in excuse for those looking for an excuse not to exercise. What I've attempted to do with this post is remove some of those EXCUSES. I've shown you in the past that if you want to get in the best shape of your life you not only need to eat more, many of you probably need to exercise less (HERE). That's right, the good news for many of you is that research has repeatedly shown that when it comes to exercise, less is often more.
What this means, however, is that at least some of your exercise should be intense. I'm not talking about 'kill-yourself' intense, but many of you would do well by significantly shortening your workouts, while cranking things up a bit in the intensity department at least part of the time. What are some of the ways to do this for people who don't ever seem to have enough time? I've left you a list below, but honestly, if all you did were combinations of the first four bullet points, many of you reading this would be well on your way to a fitter future.
Naturally, some of these activities require more physical skills than others. With whatever exercise program you decide on, start slow and build up. But the point is to start. Get an ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNER, create a written plan, and get started. It's Saturday for Pete's sake so you can start today. No; YOU ARE NOT TOO OLD. For those struggling with chronic health issues, consult your physician and take a look at THIS POST as well. Don't forget to visit our FACEBOOK PAGE, and if you like what you're seeing, be sure to show us some love by liking, sharing, or following.
BOUNCING ON A TRAMPOLINE
I used to run and now I'm on a long list for knee replacement. A comment to the below Yahoo article by someone calling them self AllisVanity.
The article starts out by saying that, "Any exercise is good exercise, but when it comes to losing weight, it's hard to beat running. After all, running is one of the most efficient ways to burn calories and get fit without having to restrict your diet." This entire statement is false. The truth is, there is a great deal of exercise that is not good. For example, although we have far too many folks here in America who are sedentary, there is also a large number of regular exercisers who are -- believe it or not -- overdoing it (the technical word for this is 'over-training'). Furthermore, the reason you workout is NEVER so that you can, "get fit without having to restrict your diet". If you are EATING PROPERLY, there are always things that should you should be restricting from your diet --- no matter what your weight is. We could start with SUGAR, JUNK FOOD, and TRANS FATS, and move from there to things like MSG, and ASPARTAME). I want you to understand that both diet and the kind / amount of exercise you do are critical for WEIGHT LOSS. Today, I am specifically going to show you that when it comes to the STRENGTH TRAINING -vs- CARDIO debate, Strength Training is a runaway winner.
Yahoo says that, "running works even when you're at rest". They then go on to tell you that running burns more calories at rest (after you have exercised) than does walking. I will buy this, but be aware that you are not being told the whole truth. Sprints are better than running for weight loss, and guess what is even better than sprints? That's right ---- Strength Training. And it's not even close. Runners increase their metabolism for about four hours post-workout. That goes up to well over 30 hours for those who engage in Resistance Training. Case in point (HERE). You can also click on the last link in the previous paragraph for more information on the subject.
The next point that Yahoo wants you to swallow is that, "running is time efficient". This begs the question of exactly what running is more time efficient than? Again, they compare it to walking. This is certainly true, as you will undoubtedly burn more calories running a mile than walking a mile. They also compare it to "The 7 Minute Workout". When it comes to working out, the scientific literature on the subject says that High Intensity / Short Duration is best. But 7 minutes? That might be a wee bit short. The secret to using your workout to lose weight is not the number of calories you are burning while you are working out ---- it is the number of calories you burn at rest (the amount by which you are able to increase your metabolism). For a review of this, please re-read the preceding paragraph.
The third on their list is, "running is convenient". I can buy this. According to the article, running is double convenient because you don't even need shoes (they tout barefoot running). However, is it really more 'convenient' to run than to do simple workouts like THIS? I say not! Click on the link because it defeats one of those old WORKOUT MYTHS I recently dealt with ---- you don't have to go to the gym to get a good workout.
And as for their last point, "the runner's high", are we to believe that running is the only form of exercise that releases "endorphins and morphine-like brain chemicals"? Not on your life! In fact, the authors themselves answer this question by saying that the link to the "runner's high" is not specifically with running, but with any form of, "moderate to intense exercise". All four of their points are busted!
The thing is, look at the source. The article originally appeared in Runner's World, and was actually written by their editors. This is not science. It is feel-good fluffiness. If you want more articles on this topic, you will find them HERE. Oh, and one more thing. For those of you who absolutely love to run --- great. I don't have a problem with it. Just make sure you don't go overboard, and add some simple Strength Training to your regimen. All it takes is 15-20 minutes, two or three times per week.
CROSSFIT, STATINS, AND RHABDOMYOLYSIS
No pain; no gain. Jane Fonda from her 1982 workout videos
Let me start by saying that I have never officially been part of a CrossFit program or gym. However, because I have a gym in the basement of my clinic, I am able to incorporate many of their training methods into my workouts. A few of the things my son and I do that could be considered "CrossFit-like" are KETTLEBELL SWINGS, all sorts of Burpees, several novel kinds of pushups and pullups, and pounding a tire with a sledge hammer as well as two five pound hammers (one for each hand). I am also getting ready to put up some rings.
I am sold on CrossFit's typically short duration, high intensity style of training, as well as the wide variety of atypical exercises. But, with any sort of physical training (running, powerlifting, swimming, gymnastics, MMA, etc, etc, etc), people can push things beyond what their body can withstand and repair ---- sometimes far beyond. It has taken me a lot of years to figure out that when it comes to getting in shape, sometimes less is more. I can remember Joe Wieder writing about over-training back in early 1980's issues of Muscle & Fitness. Although I did not "get it" then, I now understand just how easy is is to "over-train" and end up wearing your body down instead of building it up. Speaking of over-training; a few days ago someone sent me a link to a recent article called, CrossFit's Dirty Little Secret. The article, written by a Physical Therapist, was about the, "troubling trend among CrossFitters". And just what is this troubling trend? Have any of you heard of something called Rhabdomyolysis?
I'll get to exactly what Rhabdomyolysis is momentarily, but the thing to remember is that none of this is new information. For years, newspapers and magazines have been carrying headlines touting the dangers of CrossFit such as, "Getting Fit, Even if it Kills you" (2005, New York Times), Inside the Cult of CrossFit (2011 Men's Health), and "Lawsuit Alleges CrossFit Workout Damaging" (2008, Navy Times). There have even been a couple articles on the topic of Rhabdo by CrossFit's founder himself, Greg Glassman. I am not going to get into depth here (read the articles if you want), but if you are a novice who is trying to do advanced workouts; or if you are pushing your body to the realm of stupidity, you are headed for a breakdown --- probably sooner than later. It is only common sense to workout within your body's limits. I'm not in terrible shape now, and I used to be in really good shape. However, I would not even think of doing some of the workouts that I have seen others do. Again, know your limitations, and exercise your brain before exercising your body.
We live in a culture of excess. Americans take something like two thirds of the world's medications even though we are less than 5% of the world's population. We act like every meal is going to be our last (just look at OBESITY RATES here in America --- nearly 40% of the adult population). And when we do exercise, some of us really exercise. The hottest video workouts today are things like P-90X, Insanity, and other super high intensity routines, with every new video being touted as more intense than the one before it. Unfortunately, most of these could in no ways be considered to be "low duration". Low Duration Exercise. It is one of the things that drew me to the concept of CrossFit in the first place (many of their workouts last no more than 15 minutes).
The last several years have seen my workouts get progressively shorter. Why? Virtually all the peer-reviewed literature says that this is the best way to train (here are several articles on CARDIO TRAINING -vs- STRENGTH TRAINING). One of the first books I read on the subject (Bill Phillip's Body for Life), was talking about high intensity / low duration exercise a decade and a half ago. I even remember reading Arthur Jones talking about the famous "Colorado Experiment" with the recently deceased CASEY VIATOR back when I was in college, but blew it off assuming that his gains were all steroid-related. I guess the problem is that just like the disagreement we have over what "no pain, no gain," really means, we cannot seem to agree what either 'high intensity' or 'low duration' really mean either. But let's get back to the real reason you are reading this post ---- Rhabdo.
WHAT IS RHABDOMYOLYSIS
AND WHAT CAUSES IT?
Rhabdomyolysis can occur when overworked, abused, traumatized, or poisoned skeletal muscle rapidly undergoes lysis. The muscles cells rupture their contents as the tissue is broken down into its components. This releases muscle cells and their constituent parts into the bloodstream. Certain byproducts of this process such as the oxygen-carrying protein myoglobin, can damage the kidneys to the extent that dialysis is required for survival. But short of complete kidney failure, Rhabdo can cause permanent muscle damage as well a host of other nasty problems. So; how would you have any idea you might be dealing with Rhabdomyolysis? Just watch for the signs.
SIGNS YOU MIGHT HAVE RHABDO
- Dark Urine
- Decreased Urine Production
- Overall Weakness as well as Weakness in Specific Muscles
- Fatigue / Exhaustion
- Muscle Stiffness, Aching, Tenderness, or Pain
- Joint Pain / Joint Stiffness
- Generalized Weight Gain or Localized Bloating / Swelling
- GET TO AN EMERGENCY ROOM IF YOU SUSPECT YOU ARE DEALING WITH RHABDOMYOLYSIS: In case you have not figured it out, this stuff is serious. The diagnosis is made via a simple blood test (CPK). Don't gamble with this problem as it can be both permanent and deadly!
- DRINK LOTS OF WATER: One of the risk factors for Rhabdo is dehydration. Notice that I said to drink more "water". Sorry, SODA, juice, and Gatorade don't count.
- START SLOW AND KNOW YOUR LIMITS: Although many who develop workout-induced Rhabdo are untrained or under-trained, many are extremely fit individuals who simply pushed the envelope too far. As you get in better shape, push the envelope slowly --- a little bit at a time. A "Murph" (Named after Navy Lt. Michael Murphy, who was killed while serving in Afghanistan; the Murph consists of a one mile run, followed by 100 pull ups, 200 pushups, and 300 air squats, and then another mile run ---- all for time), is probably not the best place to start.
- REALIZE THERE IS NO DISHONOR IN BACKING OFF: If you think a certain workout might be over your head, modify it.
- LEARN MORE ABOUT STATIN DRUGS: I realize that this bullet point seems out of place, but you have to understand that the most common side-effect of Statin Drugs is "muscle pain / soreness". I recently asked two medical doctors what drugs they would never take. Top of the list for both? The ANTI-CHOLESTEROL drugs. To begin to understand why they would say this, pay attention to the words of world-renowned cholesterol expert, professor Flemming Dela from the Center for Healthy Aging at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark (the study was reported in the January 2013 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology). "A well-known side effect of statin therapy is muscle pain. Up to 75 per cent of the physically active patients undergoing treatment for high cholesterol experience pain. This may keep people away from either taking their medicine or from taking exercise....... The effect of statins is marginal for these patients. In a previously published Cochrane analysis only 0.5% reduction in all-cause mortality was detected, indicating that for every 200 patients taking statins daily for five years, one death would be prevented." This research was done because 40% of the Dutch over the age of 65 are on Statin Drugs, with a whopping 75% of these complaining of muscle pain.
Should you stop taking Statin Drugs? Only you and your doctor can answer that question. However, once you learn that CONTROLLING YOUR BLOOD SUGAR is the best way to deal with all sorts of blood lipid issues, dropping the dangerous drug might just be an option for you (HERE is more information on the blood sugar / cholesterol link with Dr. Oz, and HERE are some diet tips). Should you do nothing but wimpy workouts? No way Jose! Even the intense CrossFit workouts can fantastic when done correctly. Never let your trainer or instructor push you into something you are not comfortable with. Use some good old fashioned common sense when you are pushing things to the max.
COULD YOUR CARDIO WORKOUT
BE MAKING YOU FAT?
(OR AT LEAST PREVENTING YOU FROM LOSING WEIGHT?)
Are you interested in losing weight? Then you should cut back on classic cardiovascular exercise. Shun it, even. Abolish it. Throw out your treadmill or better yet, give it to someone you don’t like as cardio doesn’t work if your goal is long-term weight loss.
Jim Karas used to have a weight problem. Today he is a celebrity trainer who has several best selling books under his belt besides a regular guest on numerous TV programs --- including the Dr. Oz Show. Last week he wrote an article for Yahoo called, "Is Your Exercise Making You Fat?". I surely don't agree with everything Jim espouses (one article about a day in his life had him drinking DIET COKE for BREAKFAST), but as far as this topic goes, he largely hit the nail on the head with his article. The quote at the top of the page was taken from the first paragraph of his article.
Some of you like to run for the sake of running. Far be it from me to discourage you. Just be aware that there are some serious myths floating around about the benefits of running / Cardio Training (I wrote about some of these in depth in my numerous posts filed under CARDIO TRAINING -vs- STRENGTH TRAINING). Jim's biggest beef with using Cardio Training as a weight loss tool is that it causes the loss of lean body mass ----- i.e. muscle tissue. According to the scientific literature, he is correct. Why would anyone perform exercise that is known to make you lose muscle mass when muscle mass is so tough to acquire in the first place? They buy into all those old WEIGHT LOSS MYTHS.
I have always heard that after the age of 30, people are losing 10% of their muscle mass per decade for the rest of their life ---- unless they are actively and specifically doing something to combat it (and as is usually the case, women are affected by this phenomenon significantly more than men). How do you combat this muscle loss? There is only one real way ---- STRENGTH OR RESISTANCE TRAINING. You see; loss of lean body mass presents an ugly metabolic dilemma once you realize that muscle burns more energy at rest than does an equal amount of fat --- far more energy.
Why is this weight gain happening? It's simple—muscle loss. When you lose muscle, your metabolism is destroyed. You are also decimating your metabolism by dieting without exercise or dieting with cardio. Your successful weight loss formula is dieting plus strength training. Period.
Are you interested in gaining weight? If you are, perform cardiovascular exercise, and a lot it.
You never want to worry about the calories you burn during exercise. More important are the calories burned after exercise, called EPOC (Excess, Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption). You get up to 38 hours of EPOC from interval-based strength training.
WORKING OUT CORRECTLY
STOP WASTING TIME, ENERGY, AND MONEY
- IT'S ALL ABOUT DIET: Far too many people want to read all about the latest "workout secrets" in Men's Health or Cosmo, while ignoring their diets. Sorry, it does not work that way. Especially once you're on the back side of thirty. If you are not eating some form of LOW CARB DIET, you are setting yourself up for future problems, and sabotaging your efforts in the process. Take just a moment to learn why CONTROLLING YOUR BLOOD SUGAR while getting ample high quality protein is not only the best way to eat to get in great physical shape, it is the best way to eat if you are interested in defeating CHRONIC PAIN and / or CHRONIC ILLNESS as well.
- BACK OFF OF THE CARDIO: I realize that this will upset some of my regular readers. Before you start throwing rocks and bottles, just listen to me for a moment. Cardio Training is not nearly as effective as helping you lose weight or get in shape as is Strength Training. I think that some Cardio Training is great (especially when you combine it with your Strength Training --- Crossfit style or in the form of Intervals). But a little goes a very long way. Instead of getting mad at me, read the last decade's worth of research on the topic and use it to your advantage. Short workouts are all that is required to get in great shape. Learn the hows and the whys HERE --- especially if you are a woman.
- HARDER, FASTER, HEAVIER, SHORTER: I am not necessarily advocating that you start training for the the World's Strongest Man / Woman competition. In fact, I don't train nearly as heavy as I used to. But the fact remains that far too many people (especially women), don't lift hard and heavy enough if they are even lifting at all. I will not belabor this point, but ask you to click on the link above. Let me give you an example of an intense Cardio / Resistance workout that can be done in your own home in less than 10 minutes. Do a set of 10 KETTLEBELL SWINGS followed by 10 Burpees. Immediately follow it with 9 Kettlebell Swings and 9 Burpees. Immediately follow it with 8, 7, 6............ Make sure you have a trash can near by if you are not used to working out like this.
- DEAL WITH UNDERLYING CHRONIC ILLNESS: If you are finding it all but impossible to make any headway with your efforts, you may be one of the millions of Americans dealing with some sort of Chronic Illness. HERE is a great starting point as far as figuring out what may be going on.
A LITTLE EXERCISE GOES A LONG WAY
THE CHOICE IS YOURS
"A single, short bout of high-intensity exercise three times a week led to significant health benefits in slightly overweight men.... Participants saw changes in oxygen cost, blood pressure, and fasting glucose [blood sugar]." Dr. Arnt Erik Tjonna from the May 29, 2013 issue of PLOS One.
Simply dealing with this LARGELY MISUNDERSTOOD HEALTH PROBLEM will improve your overall health (and weight) by leaps and bounds --- and the study showed that this form of exercise does just that. Listen to this sentence from the study's Abstract, and let it sink into your brain. "A growing body of evidence suggests that exercise training with low-volume but high-intensity may be a time-efficient means to achieve health benefits." These people were on a treadmill for a 10 minute "warmup" at 70% of their max heart rate. They then kicked the intensity to 90% for one minute, followed by three minutes at 70% and a five minute "cool down". Add it up. That is 19 minutes, with only a single minute of what we would truly call "high intensity" exercise.
I get it. You don't have the time to do do the entire hour to hour and a half of P-90X or "Insanity". You don't have the money for a gym membership. You don't have room in your house for a bunch of bulky gym equipment. The thing is, these individuals saw huge changes in only 10 weeks, while exercising for less than 20 minutes three times a week --- walking / jogging / running. No one, and I do mean no one can tell me that they do not have 19 minutes, three times a week. All you have to do is crank your heart rate up. You can accomplish this in any number of ways. But if you really want to boost your results, try doing the same amount of time with some modified RESISTANCE TRAINING. I promise that your results will be even better!
One of my favorite success stories of High Intensity / Low Duration exercise is TRACY REFKIND'S crazy body transformation that took place over a period of about three months. All she did was perform Kettlebell Swings two or three times a week for an average of 20 minutes or so (in "interval" fashion, of course). Coupled with a LOW CARB DIET, she lost 100 lbs in 100 days and now runs a Kettlebell Fitness Studio.
If you are CHRONICALLY ILL or dealing with CHRONIC PAIN SYNDROMES, you will not be able to jump right in and go. But do something. The health benefits of just a little bit of exercise are too good to pass up. Not to mention, I have never one time heard a person say that they started exercising and feel worse. You can do this. Simply make a plan and stick to it. Oh; just one more thing. If you have great results, let me know so that I can share them with everyone.
YOUR HEALTH IS UP TO....... YOU!
GYM EQUIPMENT CAN QUICKLY DATE ITSELF: THE TITANIC'S FITNESS ROOM
I find it interesting how people think. You would be surprised at the number of people I see who believe that since the Affordable Care Act was passed, they can finally be healthy. False! Your health is and always has been completely up to you. I get it; some people were unfortunate enough to be born with genetic diseases, physical defects, or other severe inborn health problems. In the big scheme of things, these are RARE. I am speaking to the rest of you. It is time you take what God gifted you with and take care of it! Don't tell yourself that you will start next week. Start today.
Remember my EXCUSES post from last week? I want to give you some things that you can do on your own to take care of your body, and spend as little time as possible doing it. As far as working out / exercising is concerned, HERE is my short post on the best way to lose weight and keep it off forever. As you already know, I am a huge believer in STRENGTH TRAINING. Sure, I think think that Cardio Training is great, but if you simply look at the research, you'll see that a little of it goes a long way. This is to your advantage! You do not have to be a gym member, nor do you have to spend 1-2 hours a day doing workouts like P-90X (or running mile after mile after mile) to achieve incredible results. If you'll cut the JUNK and SODAS, and eat a diet based on WHOLE FOODS (specifically think PALEO HERE), you can spend a brief time working out (emphasis on brief) --- in the privacy of your own home if you like --- and achieve incredible results quickly (HERE).
How good of a workout can you get without being a member of a gym? Believe it or not, you can possibly do better than you could in many gyms. And all you need are an EXERCISE BALL and some light hand weights (dumbells), and if you are really motivated --- a HOMEMADE KETTLEBELL. The Exercise Ball (they go by lots of names including balance ball, fit ball, fitness ball, gym ball, physio ball, Pilates ball, sports ball, stability ball, Swedish ball, Swiss ball, therapy ball, etc, etc, etc) is simply a large inflatable ball that can be purchased at Cramazon or Mal-Wart (make sure to spend a few more bucks and get the 'burst resistant' heavy duty ball).
The real advantage to incorporating the Exercise Ball into your strength training is that the instability of the ball builds strength and stability into all parts of your body ---- particularly your CORE. Instead of working out on a stable surface (a bench or floor), the ball forces the body to engage many more muscles just to maintain balance (which is great PROPRIOCEPTIVE TRAINING). Not only is this great for your body, it is great for your brain as well (HERE). There is arguably no better (or easier) core strengthening program than to spend time on the ball. Simply head on over to YouTube and check out their videos on how to do strength and proprio training on a ball.
SIMPLE (QUICK) BALL WORKOUTS YOU
CAN DO IN YOUR OWN LIVING ROOM
STRENGTH -vs- CARDIO REVISITED
- ENDURANCE ATHLETE: Any event over 2 hours in duration
- MARATHONER: Running 26.2 miles
- TRIATHLETE: 2.4 mile swim, followed by a 112 mile bike ride, followed by a full 26.2 mile Marathon
- ULTRA-DISTANCE RUNNER: Distances over 50 miles
- ULTRA BICYCLER: The Tour de France is, give or take, a 2,000 mile race
The common thought of the day is that to seriously get ready for events like these, you'll have to train on average, 2.5 - 5 hours per day or more (calculated using one day with zero training). Much of this involves mile after mile of what I have always called "slogging". If you read my piece on Strength vs Cardio (link below), you already realize that despite creating the "Endorphin High", slogging releases large quantities of the stress hormone Cortisol. This, along with dozens of other factors, are why the scientific research is pointing toward higher intensity / lower duration types of training not only for strength events, but for endurance events as well. Let me ask you a question. What if you could achieve better race times by cutting your training time in half or more? Would you be interested?
Although I have been an athlete my whole life (or at least I have enjoyed thinking of myself in that capacity), I have always hated to run for the sake of running. Maybe it's just my personal bias on the matter, but there seems to be a rapidly growing body of evidence (both empirical and anecdotal) saying that STRENGTH TRAINING IS SUPERIOR IN EVERY FASHION TO CARDIO TRAINING. Now we have groups of people (CrossFitters and Endurance CrossFitters) who are telling us that hardcore endurance athletes (runners, triathletes, cyclists, etc) can dramatically improve their overall performance, by running / training less ---- way less.
Interestingly enough, this is not really a new principle in strength training. The truth of the matter is that most serious athletes (weightlifters included) have a real propensity to overtrain. Back in the 1970's, Arthur Jones created a fitness phenomenon based on this premise. You've all heard of it ---- Nautalis. After an experiment at Colorado State University, Jones became more convinced than ever that one (1) very heavy set of repetitions to failure, done no more than a couple of times a week, was all a person needed to make maximal / optimal gains in both strength and muscle mass. Thus the birth of the Nautalis Circuit. Joe Weider of Muscle and Fitness fame used to talk about overtraining in his magazines on a regular basis as well. It seemed that there were always articles and warnings about overtraining, even though the magazine was filled with pictures of professional muscle-heads whose trained twice a day for hours at a time (something that would be impossible without some serious pharmaceutical help).
But wouldn't it be interesting if the same principle were true for endurance athletes as well? It seems that this might actually be the case. For at least 15 years (since the publication of Bill Phillips Body for Life), the High Intensity / Short Duration crowd has been flexing their proverbial muscles --- both in the gym and in the scientific research community. The latest star of this movement is a man by the name of Brian Mackenzie. In a new article in Outside Magazine (The Agony and the Heresy; Brian MacKenzie's Controversial New Approach to Marathon Training), he explains why CrossFit-like strength and interval training is the way to go as far as decreasing times for marathon and ultra-distance runners is concerned. I realize that it will be tough wrapping your mind around the idea that squats, power cleans, deadlifts, push presses, pull ups, burpees, KETTLEBELL SWINGS, sprints, and other similar fare, done at an extreme pace, for 15-30 minute workouts, is the very sort of training needed to better your times in distance events.
CROSSFIT-LIKE EXERCISES AND
HOMEMADE GYM EQUIPMENT
One day (my freshman year in college) I was walking home from class and took a shortcut that happened to take me right by a welding shop. I noticed that there was a big pile of very heavy, rusty, steel plates behind a fence. I stopped and inquired about them, and the owner told me that since I did not steal them from him, I could have them. He even cut out holes to the size that would fit an Olympic bar. That's how we did it back in the day.
That old 'DIY' spirit is back in the gym. Between Crossfit and the dozens of knockoffs, you can figure out how to get an incredible workout with almost no equipment whatsoever. Or, with a little bit of YouTube know-how, you can build whatever you need. This is a blog post that I basically created for my son and I to use. If you can find something useful here, enjoy. It is something that I will probably add to periodically.
GREAT LINKS TO DO-IT-YOURSELF STRENGTH EQUIPMENT
SYNERGY (Homemade Equipment)
DIESEL STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING (More Homemade Equipment)
HOMEMADE GYM EQUIPMENT (Still more of the same)
DO IT YOURSELF TRAINING GEAR
HOMEMADE GYM EQUIPMENT (From Home Gym Bodybuilding)
GROUND UP STRENGTH
STRAIGHT TO THE BAR --- HOMEMADE GYM EQUIPMENT
STRENGTH & RESISTANCE OR CARDIO...
WHICH IS BEST?
- Which form of exercise is better for weight loss; Cardio or Strength Training?
- Which form of exercise will give me a better butt; Cardio or Strength Training?
- Which form of exercise will give be better abs / core strength; Cardio or Strength Training?
- Which form of exercise is better for toning up; Cardio or Strength Training?
- Which form of exercise will make me look better in a swim suit; Cardio or Strength Training?
- Which form of exercise is better for overall health; Cardio or Strength Training?
- Which form of exercise is best for my heart; Cardio or Strength Training?
- Which form of exercise will increase my life span; Cardio or Strength Training?
- Which form of exercise is better if I have extremely limited time: Cardio or Strength Training?
- Which form of exercise is better if I have no funds to join a gym; Cardio or Strength Training?
- Which form of exercise will prevent osteoporosis; Cardio or Strength Training?
- Which form of exercise is better if I am old (Geriatric); Cardio or Strength Training?
- Which form of exercise is better if I am young (Teenager); Cardio or Strength Training?
- Insert your own version of this question here ____________________?
In a post that is sure to trouble my readers who happen to be hardcore cardio enthusiasts (particularly serious runners), I am going to show you that while I am not necessarily trying to get you to completely give up your cardio training (that would be foolhardy on both our parts); Strength Training is the superior form of exercise ---- the best answer to every single one of the above questions. And no; it's not even close.
What gives me any degree of credibility to tackle this topic? I have nearly three decades of experience dealing with real-world patients. Not to mention, my undergraduate training included the Dual Degree Program at Kansas State University (Exercise Physiology / Nutrition). But probably the number one reason I can address this issue authoritatively is the fact that I practice what I preach. Although I cannot do the MASSIVELY HEAVY TRAINING anymore due to old injuries (multiple cases of basketball-induced avulsion fractures of my right ankle, leading to a low grade PIRIFORMIS ISSUE and chronic foot issues), I have been in the game personally for well over 30 years. I know what works and what doesn't work because I've lived it ---- and I am not into wasting needless time with exercise routines that do not produce fruit, and produce it quickly (HERE for example).
STRENGTH TRAINING OR BODYBUILDING?
Unfortunately, bodybuilding has moved away from FRANK ZANE'S CLASSIC LOOK (think a bit bigger version of Michelangelo's 'David' here), to today's comic book-like monstrosities that are almost ubiquitously built via mass quantities of steroids and GH-like hormones. Forget all the gimmicks. Just remember that if you train correctly and eat properly, the physique will take care of itself as you get stronger (with a great variation in everyone's genetic capacity for both size and strength). Today's post is going to delve into what constitutes "Resistance Training / Strength Training" and the reasons it's superior to hardcore Cardio Training (specifically long-distance running), in almost every objectively measurable category.
Despite the fact that I used to play basketball and other sports for hours on end, I will warn you up front that this blog post is being written from the perspective of someone who never found running for the sake of running, enjoyable. Despite the fact that I did it for a significant portion of my life, I never liked going out and pounding the pavement. In fact, I hated it. Runner's High? Can't even imagine it!
REASONS THAT STRAIGHT CARDIO IS INFERIOR TO STRENGTH TRAINING
I realize that today's column is going to upset the marathoners, the triathletes, and the bikers. I apologize in advance. Be aware, however, that my goal is not simply to give you my opinion. Although I have not included a bibliography (I am not writing a book or article for publication in a scientific journal), there is a tremendous amount of scientific research backing this column. But don't be fooled.
You have to understand that I think everyone should do some form of Cardio Training. It's just that I believe that it can be incorporated into your strength workouts in other ways, such as HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) or rapid circuit training. The bottom line is that if you want to optimize your time and energy as far as fast-acting, long-lasting results are concerned (remember the list of questions above?), Strength Training provides much more bang for the buck. And it provides it much quicker. My goal is to prove it to you in as many ways as I possibly can.
Does it burn energy (calories)?
Does it burn fat?
Does it raise the heart rate?
Does it increase cardiovascular health?
Does it build muscle?
Does it increase strength
Does it decrease or reverse Osteoporosis?
Does it increase Insulin's efficiency?
Does it cause muscles to burn more energy while at rest?
NO (can cause muscle loss)
MAYBE (it can also cause loss of both strength and muscle mass)
MAYBE / SLIGHTLY
MAYBE / SLIGHTLY
STRENGTH -vs- CARDIO
THE REASONS STRENGTH TRAINING IS SUPERIOR
- NO MATTER WHICH FORM OF EXERCISE YOU CHOSE, DO NOT NEGLECT YOUR DIET: No matter which form of exercise you choose to participate in (Cardio Training, Strength Training, or hopefully some sort of combination), the biggest reason your exercise program will either succeed or fail has to do with the foods you eat. In other words, your diet will make you or break you. If your biggest goal is losing weight, you have to remember that you cannot work out hard enough to overcome a cruddy diet. THIS POST will tell you why LOW CARB and PALEO are the way to go. Let me repeat myself in a different way. If you are still stuck in the HIGH CARB MINDSET of the 1980's (or you just don't care), you are headed for disaster. It may not happen today, and it may not happen tomorrow. But I promise you that if you do not consciously choose to eat in a healthy manner, you will one day be dealing with a diet-induced Endocrine System Tsunami. As I will soon show you, you'll burn your Pancreas trying to control your blood sugar, your ADRENAL GLANDS will follow suit, and your health will go to hell in a hand basket. Without serious intervention, maintaining a healthy weight will become almost impossible.
- PEOPLE WHO ARE SERIOUSLY INTO CARDIO ARE FREQUENTLY SERIOUSLY INTO THEIR CARBS: While this is an obvious over-generalization, it is true in far too many cases. It seems to me that most of the runners I know are really into their carbs (think 'carb loading' here). Furthermore, Cardio Training seems to increase one's appetite for carbs more than Resistance Training does. Tim Ferris of Four Hour Body, tends to avoid overly-strenuous Cardio Training for this very reason. And while it's true that carbs in the form of vegetables are a critical part of a healthy diet, just remember this; there are no "Essential Carbohydrates" (even though there are Essential Amino Acids (proteins) as well as Essential Fatty Acids). In other words, our bodies are perfectly capable of converting both protein and fat into blood sugar. Here are a few links for those having trouble with this concept (HERE and HERE). I also know a lot of runners who do not really worry about what they eat because they know that they are going to burn x number of calories on their next run. In my post called HEALTH PHARISEES, I tell how I used to use exercise as an excuse to eat crappy foods. This thought process is fueled by articles (think Cosmo or Men's Health) that provide 'educational' guidelines on how much exercise it will take to burn off that brownie or Big Mac Value Meal you just scarfed. Again; I am overgeneralizing, but when it comes to this particular issue, people who are into Cardio Training frequently have a completely different mindset than those who are into Strength Training.
- STRENGTH TRAINING IS JUST AS GOOD AS CARDIO FOR WEIGHT LOSS: Let me qualify this statement. While it is technically false, it is functionally true. Even though you will expend more energy (calories) during the average Cardio Session, there is a far greater weight loss benefit to Strength Training --- a benefit that will largely be seen over the long term (more on this shortly). Much of this has to do with the fact that an equal volume of muscle weighs significantly more than the same volume of fat. This means that a good Strength Training Program might actually cause you to gain weight (at least at first) ---- even though your goal may very well be weight loss. But, as you'll quickly learn, you need to change both your mindset and your fitness goal(s) in this area. All of this is why the scale might not be your best friend when you start your Resistance Training Program. It's also why for women in particular, strong is the new "skinny". Instead of worrying about your weight, take a picture. For some reason, scales and mirrors tend to lie to you much more than a picture will. Instead of simply thinking in terms of weight loss here, we all need to be thinking in terms of body composition.
- NO FORM OF EXERCISE COMES REMOTELY CLOSE TO RESISTANCE TRAINING AS FAR AS BODY COMPOSITION IS CONCERNED: When I speak of body composition, what I am really getting at is a person's "lean body mass" -vs- the amount of body fat they are carrying. Cardio Training inarguably helps people lose weight. But because it has a real tendency to break down muscle in the process (usually without building it back up ---- look at the pictures at the beginning), it can leave you skinny --- and in some cases rather soft. The only surefire way to increase lean body mass is to get involved in some sort of Resistance Training. Period. End of story. A 1999 issue of Medical Science Sports Exercise verified this fact. This study broke a group of overweight individuals into three different groups:
-The Diet-Only Group
-The Diet & Cardio Group
-The Diet & Cardio & Strength Training Group
In 12 weeks time training 3x / week for almost an hour per session, the Diet-Only group lost nearly 15 lbs, while The Cardio & Diet Group lost nearly 16 pounds --- one measley pound difference. But the Strength Training group lost over 21 pounds of fat over the course of the 12 weeks. Think about it. There is so little difference between dieting and dieting plus cardio, that it is virtually impossible to justify the extra effort it takes to lose that one extra pound. In other words, thirty-six cardio sessions lasting up to almost an hour added up to one extra pound lost (gulp). But throw in the Strength Training, and Whalah! The Strength group showed weight loss that was far superior to the other two groups. In a moment we'll delve into what happens when the Cardio Training is altogether abandoned in lieu of Strength Training. To truly see concept in action (losing 100 lbs in 100 days, and getting strong in the process), you need to take a peek at THIS SHORT POST.
- WEIGHT LIFTING CHANGES BODY SHAPE / APPEARANCE FAR MORE THAN CARDIO EVER WILL --- OR CAN: Although this goes along with Body Composition above, they are certainly not the same thing. And let's be really honest with each other for a moment. While it's very true that people exercise for a wide variety of health-related reasons, many (arguably most) people exercise because they want to look better. I could have titled this bullet point, "Strength Training Creates Better _______ (insert the body part of your choice here --- Abs, Butt, Legs, Chest, Arms, etc). Other than getting leaner, most Cardio Training does very little (many experts would argue 'nothing') as far as body sculpting is concerned.
- WEIGHT TRAINING PROVIDES A SHAPELY ADVANTAGE ---- ESPECIALLY FOR WOMEN: Unfortunately, most women fear the very thing they should be doing --- lifting heavier weights with greater intensity. If you are one of those, But-I'm-afrad-to-bulk-up-I-just-want-to-tone-up women, change your mindset and change it now! Listen up ladies. If you want to change how you look and change it rapidly, you had better get far more serious about Strength Training. I seriously cannot tell you how many women I have counseled because their 10-12 mile-a-day walking program (yeah, that's what I thought too) was no longer producing the results they wanted -- namely weight loss and toning. Unless there is a serious health problem that would prevent someone from doing so, my advice is virtually always the same. KETTLE BELL SWINGS, multiple-joint power movements (squats, deadlifts, etc --- longer list at end of the post), heavier weights, Low Carb or Paleo eating, and more protein more often. Bottom line; if you want to change the way you look without clothes on, lift weights. Doing rep after rep after rep after rep with one pound padded dumbbells is essentially another form of Cardio Training. It will probably give you a good case of TENDINOSIS, but do very little to change your body's shape! Rather than belabor this point, I will point you to a post by Nerd Fitness's, STEVE KAMB.
- RESISTANCE TRAINING REQUIRES A SIMILAR EXPENDITURE OF ENERGY INITIALLY, BUT RAISES METABOLISM MUCH MORE FOR A MUCH LONGER PERIOD OF TIME: Unless you are doing some serious, serious, long-distances; weightlifting is going to burn as much or almost as much energy (calories) as cardio. It is pure myth that Cardio Training burns significantly more calories than intense resistance training. Although your 10 mile run may very well burn more calories than my 20-40 minute Crossfit-like workout, the current scientific literature shows that the increased muscle mass creates a boosted metabolism for between 24-48 hours post-exercise (38 hours is a number frequently bantered around). In other words, the increased lean body mass you create via Strength Training burns more calories at rest ---- way more. For whatever reason, this phenomenon is not seen in Cardio Training. Remember; Cardio Training will not only not increase lean body mass, in many cases it will actually decrease it! Quit concentrating on the number of calories you supposedly burn during your exercise session (as if any method of counting calories is really trustworthy and accurate). It is the calories you burn during the rest of the day that matter the most. In other words, stop focusing on how many calories you burn inside the gym and instead focus on how your body expends energy outside the gym.
- CALORIES DON'T REALLY MEAN JACK: A Calorie, by definition, is the amount of heat energy it takes to raise one cubic centimeter of water, one degree Celsius. If you want to know why your ENDOCRINE SYSTEM (and particularly Insulin) has a much bigger effect on your body composition than the number of calories you eat, READ THIS. Again, do not get hung up on calories. The number of calories you eat has little to do with the amount of weight you gain or lose. It is all about controlling your blood insulin levels by controlling your blood sugar. To understand this better, check out my 'self-experimentation' at the end of the post.
- WHEN IT COMES TO WEIGHT LOSS, INTERVAL TRAINING IS SUPERIOR TO STRAIGHT CARDIO TRAINING: The University of New South Wales looked at 45 overweight women over the course of a 15-week period. The study's subjects were divided into two groups: Group One did continuous bicycling, while Group Two performed mixed routines called "Intervals" (lots of sprints with regular cycling between the sprints). The interval (“sprint”) cycling group performed twenty minutes of exercise, while the continuous group exercised for 40 minutes. At the end of the study, the women in the interval group had lost three times as much body fat as the women in the continuous exercise group --- mostly from the legs and butt. Stop and re-read that sentence if your jaw is not on the floor right now! Interval Training (repeated sprints or extremely intense bursts of exercise ---- Burpees for instance ----- sandwiched between your normal exercise) is all about making your body adapt to change. This is always a good thing, no matter what kind of exercise we are talking about. The current scientific research says that Interval Training is far superior to standard Cardio Training in virtually every measurable category --- including fat loss. Be aware that programs like P-90X and "Insanity" are incorporating what amounts to Interval Training into their Strength Training. Despite Interval Training's superiority to Cardio Training................. (HERE)
- WEIGHT LIFTING IS SUPERIOR TO INTERVAL TRAINING: Although I have done a bit of it during my lifetime, make no mistake about it ---- I do not like to run for the sake of running. I would rather play racquetball, basketball, soccer, walk, KAYAK UPSTREAM, hike in the woods (HERE), or whatever else a person could possibly do to avoid running. Rather than belabor the superiority of Resistance Training compared to both Intervals and Cardio, I will leave you with Jason Ferruggia interviewing world renowned fitness expert, Alwyn Cosgrove, on the subject.
- CARDIO IS TYPICALLY HARDER ON YOUR BODY THAN STRENGTH TRAINING: While injuries can occur in all forms of exercise, I see far more chronic injuries (TENDINOSIS, FASCIAL ADHESIONS, PLANTAR FASCIITIS, SHIN SPLINTS, BURISITIS, PATELLAR TRACKING PROBLEMS, ITB SYNDROME, PIRIFORMIS SYNDROME, etc, etc) in people who are seriously into their cardio --- particularly runners. The intense and repetitive impact seen in running is a huge problem over time, frequently leading to DEGENERATIVE OSTEOARTHRITIS of the knees and hips (orthopedic surgeons absolutely love runners). And the repetitive motion patterns seen in running as well as other supposed 'low impact' Cardio Training methods such as biking, rowing, swimming, stair climbing, etc, frequently contribute to muscle imbalances and joint problems as well. Can you hurt yourself lifting weights? Absolutely! I have done it myself too many times to count. I am still trying to reprogram my pea brain. It can be a difficult thing for a Type A male to shed the more-is-always-better mindset.
- STRENGTH TRAINING IS FAR SUPERIOR AS FAR AS CORE STRENGTHENING IS CONCERNED: Core Strength is critical for overall health and fitness --- not to mention Spinal Health. It is also important if one of your goals is to live a pain-free life. One of the really cool things about Strength Training is that it automatically works your core (CORE STRENGTHENING PAGE). Unless you are doing some sort of hybrid training method (Zumba, P-90X, Kickboxing, etc) your Cardio Training will provide little benefit as far as strengthening The Core is concerned. For you hardcore cardio enthusiasts, kill two birds with one stone. Cut back a little bit on the cardio and add some dumbell work done on an Exercise Ball (HERE) and watch what happens.
- WEIGHTLIFTING INCREASES SELF CONFIDENCE MORE THAN CARDIO: I have believed for a very long time that a healthy body / body image helps to give people self confidence. It seems that the scientific community agrees with me. Dr. Kathleen Martin Ginis of Ontario's McMaster University specializes in the field of exercise's effects on body image and self confidence. In a 2006 study, she looked at women's perceptions about themselves and their bodies both before and after 12 weeks of Strength Training. Not surprisingly, she showed that Strength Training made significant improvements in this area.
- ONLY STRENGTH TRAINING CAN REVERSE OR INHIBIT THE PROGRESSION OF OSTEOPOROSIS: Only "Weight Bearing Exercise" can positively affect OSTEOPOROSIS. Even though I myself would characterize walking or running as 'weight bearing', the scientific community does not see it that way. When it comes to Osteoporosis, 'weight bearing' exercise means you have to work your muscles against resistance of some sort. Unfortunately, walking and / or running do not cut it. Bottom line: stronger bones are created by strengthening the muscles that attach to those bones. What strengthens muscles? You already know the answer --- Strength Training!
- STRENGTH TRAINING CREATES A FAR BETTER HORMONAL ENVIRONMENT WITHIN THE BODY: One of the things that has really come to the forefront lately about hardcore Cardio Training (most specifically, running or intense walking) is that it significantly and chronically raises Cortisol levels. Cortisol is the body's primary stress hormone and is made by the Adrenal Glands. Due to dietary stress, emotional stress, or physical stress (i.e. running), the Adrenal Glands release Cortisol. In a worst-case-scenario; overstressed Adrenal Glands cannot keep up with the stress demand, and people end up with ADRENAL FATIGUE / FIBROMYALGIA. Unfortunately, one of the chief metabolic activities of Cortisol is to promote the loss of muscle (lean body mass), as well as causing fat accumulation --- particularly BELLY FAT. And once people begin having problems with one part of their Endocrine System, other Endocrine Problems begin to show their ugly heads as the whole thing begins to head South. This leads to a cascade of problems that almost always involve some form of Insulin Resistance (Diabetes or Pre-Diabetes). If you search the scientific literature, this scenario is beginning to get a lot of play right now, and is a good reason to either dump intense Cardio Training altogether, or at the very least, scale it way back. Conversely, if you look at the research on Strength Training being used to modulate the Endocrine System, it is very promising.
- IF YOU ARE GOING TO DO CARDIO TRAINING, YOU MAY WANT TO DO IT IN THE FORM OF A SPORT: For instance, MMA and Soccer are both sports that my son has been involved in for many years. When you get down to it, sports like these, as well as others like racquetball or basketball are really forms of Interval Training (fairly continuous exercise with intermittent bursts of super intensity / speed). They are not boring. They are not repetitive. They provide great cardiovascular benefits. Granted, you cannot simply put your running shoes on and go do these sports. The drawback with sports is the potential for injury. However, a number of Strength / Cardio / Interval Training Programs have come to the forefront over the past several years. Like I mentioned earlier, people are getting great results with training videos such as P-90X, Insanity, and a wide variety of the like. A QUICK NOTE ON BIKING / SPINNING: Biking has gained in popularity because when done properly, it is a true combination of Strength Training, Interval Training, and Cardio Training. See our testimonial from a three time world champion triathlete (HERE).
- I AM NOW CONVINCED THAT STRENGTH TRAINING IS SUPERIOR. HOW DO I ADD STRENGTH TRAINING TO MY CARDIO PROGRAM? This is not difficult. For those of you who are not currently performing some sort of exercise, this post will give you enough information to get started. For those of you who are training either exclusively training cardio, it will be tougher. What it will most-entail from you is a mindset change. If you are a hardcore runner, you will have to do some serious soul searching concerning some of the things you have read in this post. The most difficult thing for you (at least at first) will be to realize that cutting back on your Cardio Training is really OK. Unless you want your body to become a 'Cortisol Dump', DO NOT simply add Strength Training to a hardcore Cardio Training program. As always, I would strongly suggest that you never listen blindly to anything that anyone (self included) tells you, without first doing your own research into the matter.
- WHAT KINDS OF STRENGTH EXERCISES SHOULD I BE DOING? OK; you're convinced that Strength Training is superior to Cardio Training. The next question is what kind of exercises should you be doing? This is fairly simple to answer. Rather than wasting your time with lots and lots of individual exercises for each individual body part (bodybuilding), you need to be doing exercises that use as many large muscle groups as possible (squats, deadlifts, lunges, kettlebell swings, squat thrusts / burpees, inverted rows / pull ups, push ups, medicine ball slams, powerclean to press, etc, etc, etc, ---- there are lists all over the internet). By doing these sorts of exercises one after the other in a rapid circuit (or by substituting with the hundreds of similar exercises as taught by CrossFit or other similar groups), you'll build lean body mass (muscle), lose fat (fat), and develop exceptional cardiovascular strength (heart and lung capacity). There are several places to start. I have mentioned CROSSFIT already. You can read blogs like NERD FITNESS, STRONGLIFTS, MARK'S DAILY APPLE, or any number of others. It is important to realize that a great Strength Training Workout can actually be accomplished in a short amount of time with little or no equipment; using things you can either BUILD YOURSELF, or scrounge up from around your house (some CrossFit workouts last less than 15 minutes). The never-ending variety of exercises means that you won't get bored. And the fact that you can see such dramatic results so immediately, makes Strength Training its own motivation. Cut back the Cardio, add some high intensity low duration Strength Training to your program, and watch what happens. You'll be amazed.
One of the first large-scale experiments on myself occurred back in the mid 90's. Even though it was about to kill me, I was hopelessly stuck in the Fat Free 80's. After reading The Zone by biochemist Barry Sears, as well as Dr. Atkin's original book, I decided it was time to go 'Mad Scientist' on myself, and one day finally said, "chuck it". Although I knew in my brain that what these authors were saying was biochemically correct and accurate, I could not get over the fact that for 10 years of studying nutrition, all I had ever heard from seemingly everyone in the industry was that dietary fat was the Great Satan --- the thing that made people fat (HERE). So what did I do? For several weeks, I essentially went carb-free (basically the Atkin's Diet's Induction Phase), living on things like bacon, fried eggs, sausage, cheese, and other similar fare --- things I had mostly eschewed for the past decade. Guess what happened? Even though I was not really 'fat' to begin with (but more so than I care to admit), I lost about 10 lbs of fat without any changes to my training regimen. Other than the occasional binge (yeah, at times I fall off the wagon ---- eggnog is the thing that is currently calling my name), I have been low carbing ever since.
For my most current experiment, I decided to pull a Tim Ferris and do virtually no cardio (because of old injuries, I cannot do as much as I would like to do anyway --- the weirdest is that I can no longer ride a bike and have not done so in over a decade). Other than the occasional hike or short Kayak excursion, my workouts have consisted of nothing other than Strength Training since we closed the pool back in October. Because I can have a tendency to over-consume eggnog around Christmas time, and because my friend Rick is on an absolute rampage with his new workout, I came up with the HOLIDAY CHALLENGE to give us both some accountability and motivation to get through the Christmas season unscathed.
Dr. Schierling completed four years of Kansas State University's five-year Nutrition / Exercise Physiology Program before deciding on a career in Chiropractic. He graduated from Logan Chiropractic College in 1991, and has run a busy clinic in Mountain View, Missouri ever since. He and his wife Amy have four children (three daughters and a son).
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Can You Help
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Death By Medicine
Degenerative Joint Disease
D's Of Chronic Pain
Evidence Based Medicine
Gluten Cross Reactivity
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Jacks Fork River
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Number One Health Problem
Platelet Rich Therapy
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Re Invent Yourself
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Sleeping Pills Kill
Stay Or Go
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Tensegrity And Fascia
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