Resistance exercise has been shown to dramatically affect acute hormonal responses in the body after training. These responses play a huge role not only in immediate tissue remodelling and growth, but also to long term strength, power, and increasing our muscle mass.
Resistance exercises that stress large muscle mass (multi-joint exercises), are high in volume and moderate to high intensity tend to produce the greatest hormonal elevations for optimal muscular fitness benefits
Multi joint exercises are movements like squats, lunges, deadlifts, bench press.
Testosterone and the growth hormones are more abundant in our earlier life so anything we can do to maintain the production of these hormones is obviously very important. Males have approximately 8 times more testosterone than females.
Cortisol is a stress hormone and high levels are linked to many health problems and fat storage, and although cortisol will increase during exercise research indicates resistance training may well help to lower resting levels.
Want To Be Toned?
Silly question really, I guess we all want to be toned and have good shape and the good news is it with a good weight training programme you can, and it does not mean spending hours at the gym.
Weight training is the key to strengthening your skeletal muscles, these are the muscles that provide movement and sit under the skin and can be seen. As I mentioned in the previous e-mail, it is very hard to build muscle and I know many females shy away from weights as they do not want to increase muscle size.
The truth is by lifting relatively heavy weights you will put your muscles under stress. The body will adapt to this by increasing the strength and tone of the muscle, providing the programme is performed consistently, is hard enough to cause adaption and the resistance is increased over time, otherwise you will find yourself going backward. The principle of reversibility!
My advice is to have your programme checked on a regular basis to make sure your balance of exercises is correct, that they are performed correctly and they are hard enough.
If you're not going forward you're going backwards.
Today I will take a look at the first reasons from my list of 7, the first being increase of metabolic rate.
Your basal metabolic rate is the amount of calories your body burns every day at rest without you doing anything. It is largely dependent on age, gender and genetics.
As we get older your BMR unfortunately slows down making it easier to gain fat as we age. There are probably many reasons for this but one main reason could be a loss of muscle tissue.
Muscle is not a massive calorie burner. To maintain 1 ib of muscle seems to require around 10 calories a day. To build a pound of muscle requires lifting heavy weights and is not a fast process, especially for women due largely to a difference in testosterone.
So I feel the real value for performing weight training in terms of increasing metabolic rate is to be able to maintain muscle tissue rather than losing it.
Use it or lose it!
So, we have looked at cardio exercise without paying too much attention to weight training. I would like to start this series by bringing to your attention the top 7 reasons why resistance training should be an important part of yout training schedule.
1. Increased Metabolic Rate.
2. Shape & tone.
3. Reduced injury risk.
4. Increased bone health.
5. Delay the effect of muscle loss.
6. Postive hormonal effect.
7. Reduced risk of many health related illness.
Short and sweet, I will cover each benefit in more detail in the next series of blogs.
Cardio & Fat Loss
Today I would like to look at why we need to be careful when running and maybe looking at reducing the amount or find an alternative.
Please don't get me wrong, I am not saying running is bad for you and I know people enjoy running. But I feel it is only something that should be performed if you are not carrying too much weight, have correct training and good movement patterns.
During each foot strike the body is exposed to repeated impact forces estimated to be two to three times the body weight of the runner. Applying this fact to a 150 pound runner, who has an average of 400 foot-strikes per foot per mile during a one-mile run, each foot would endure between 60 and 90 tons of force.
On top of this I know from performing posture assessments and movement analysis our movement patterns and core stability are generally far from perfect and result in the joints running out of their correct alignment, pre-disposing the joints to long & short term damage from the above forces.
Running is basically a one legged activity so a simple test would be to stand in front of a mirror, balance on one leg trying to stay as straight as possible, hop a few times and notice what happens to your aligment.
Cardio and Fat Loss 2
The first question is Fuel used and figures. The predominant fuel used during the Cardio exercise we perform in the gym is sugar, of which is stored in the muscles and liver and converted to energy to provide our muscles with fuel. The harder we work the more sugar we burn.
Our body can store approximately 400 grams of sugar, that is 1600 calories, so the calorie read out you see on cardio machines will be virtually all calories from sugar. Some would be fat but very little.
So let's say you did 20 mins on the cross trainer burning 10 calories a minute, that's 200 calories, of which 80% was sugar. That's 160 sugar calories and say the rest was fat, that's 40 fat calories in 20 mins.
To shed a pound of fat you need to burn 3500 calories, that means you would need to do 29 HOURS ON THE CROSS TRAINER!!! Perhaps that's why 24 hour gyms are opening!
To be continued
So most people spend their time in the gym doing either cardio work on the treadmill, cross trainer etc or using resistance machines, free weights, kettlebell etc or both. An interesting question would be which is the most beneficial?
Obviously this is a difficult question to answer as both will contain benefits but which one would be more suitable to help achieve your goals?
As so many people exercise with the main goal being to keep in good shape, lose weight and tone up, you could be thinking I need to spend my time doing loads of Cardio work, burning calories etc, but in my experience and against popular belief Cardio is a very inefficient way to lose weight.
I will be explaining more in the forthcoming post