Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Good news: No need to do 'Cardio'

When I explain the Efficient Fitness protocol to people, a frequently asked question is "What do you do for cardio?"

"Well," I respond, "this is cardio."

Weight lifting and cardiovascular exercise have often been classified as two different activities. When people say "cardio," what they really mean is steady-state "aerobics" — like jogging in the park for an hour or hitting up the elliptical machine at the local gym.

The problem with calling it "cardio" is assuming your heart knows the difference between lifting weights or taking a jog. The simple truth is, it doesn't. Your heart doesn't have eyes, and it has no idea if you are throwing a rock or hiking a trail or performing a bench press. All it knows is your muscles are working.

Your heart's sole purpose is to deliver blood and nutrients around to your body, and most importantly for the sake of our conversation, your muscles. When you contract a muscle hard, your heart thinks "Oh my gosh, we better get pumping! That muscle needs some nutrients."

This is exactly why you can get all of the benefits of traditional steady-state aerobic exercise in a fraction of the time with properly-performed strength training. If you place an intense demand on your muscles, your heart won't have any choice but to work, and keep working for hours after your 20-30 minute workout is over.

In a comprehensive study titled "Resistance Training in Humans: A review of acute physiological responses and chronic physiological adaptations," researchers found that reaching momentary muscular fatigue during a 20-minute resistance training session produced cardiovascular improvements just as effectively or MORE effectively than traditional aerobic training. So why on Earth would you pound the pavement five days a week for an hour, if you could just work your muscles really hard for 20 minutes and then call it a week?

So if you hate running, try strength training. Fatiguing your muscles with slow-controlled movements will get your heart pumping just fine and allow you to avoid the sore knees, twisted ankles and countless hours spent exercising.

Biofit NY trainer Jay Vincent has a great post on this topic as well, and I'd encourage everyone to read his thoughts on the subject, as he dives deep into how "cardio" became popular, and the biological mechanisms behind why strength training is not only superior, but much more safe and time efficient.

No results from running? Call 425-214-2251 or email matt@efficient-fitness.com to book a complimentary session and find out why time-efficient strength training is the safest, most effective way to see results.

Monday, June 11, 2018

The perils of recreation

Though softball is a common recreational sport, it can be one of the most dangerous if you aren't properly conditioned.

There are some things I really enjoy doing in life, so much so that these activities usually come at somewhat of a cost to my overall health.

I'm not talking about smoking or eating poorly — though my occasional dietary indulgences can catch up with me if I'm not careful — I'm talking about something most adults do and consider as being healthy: recreational activities!

There's a few different activities that bring me a lot of joy. I love playing softball, I love playing golf, and I love playing basketball with friends. I was never a jock growing up, but have always possessed just enough skill to be passable at most athletic endeavors (as long as I don't have to run too fast or jump too high).

I was heavily involved in intramural sports in college, so much so that I kind of had to come to terms with my own fragility. I've had tendinitis in my elbow, sprained knees, sprained ankles, sprained shoulders, bulging discs, black eyes, smashed glasses... the list goes on.

The fact is, all these injuries I've had over the years have been a direct result of these activities, which despite finding immense joy in, I've realized the intensity, frequency and volume in which  I can participate in these activities had to change if I wanted to pursue them as I aged as well.

And to be honest, I think I've done a pretty good job! With the base of evidence-based resistance training once every 4-10 days, I've been able to stay relatively healthy in my activities, as long as I don't do TOO much, TOO often.

A few weeks ago I played in my first fastpitch softball tournament of the year. Boy was I sore afterward, but I made it through, and after a day of recovery I was back to my old self despite playing a half dozen games in two days.

I tested myself even further this past weekend, playing basketball, an intense game of wiffleball (compounded by the competitiveness of the other participants) and walked 18 holes of golf on a tough course, all in the same day. I was some kind of tired and immensely sore the next day, but my ability to bounce back after some proper rest has never been higher thanks to proper strength training, not to mention the vast benefits being stronger has on preventing injury in the first place!

For those looking to get active again, or those who are active but currently hitting a roadblock of injuries that are preventing you from the activities you love, remember — you need to weigh the benefits and risks to each activity you participate in, and the best way to mitigate those risks is to be as strong as you can possibly be.

Want to become as strong as genetically possible? Book your complimentary session at Efficient Fitness by calling 425-214-2251 or emailing matt@efficient-fitness.com and we'll show you our research-proven techniques that help you build muscle in as little as one 20-minute session per week.