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Back to strength in January

Weightlifting or cardio?

Hope you all had a good Christmas, this is the time of year for a bit of indulgence.

With the indulgence, maybe you are setting some new fitness goals.

Fresh plans

There is always a big rush from people to get themselves back to pre Christmas condition in January. This should be done with care, not to burn out quick with being too keen or impatient.

What to do

Most people understand two categories when thinking about getting fitter or in better shape. Resistance training or Cardiovascular training. For resistance training, I mean lifting with a Barbell or other free standing implements.

The use of machines has its place for improving the body, but is mind numbingly boring. I also think machines were only a good idea to get more people per square foot on the gym floor, unsupervised.

For Cardio, I’m talking any body movement over a sustained period, at a reasonably steady state. For instance running.

So which one

By the name of my business it would not be hard to guess which one I favour.

For me a lot of cardio exercise is pretty boring looking, long periods on a treadmill are minutes of your life you won’t get back. It is important though to have cardiovascular fitness though, obviously I would bias lifting, but by how much?

Here are some observations I have noticed over my years in sport and fitness:

  • It is difficult to attain a well balanced physique with cardio, with the ever increasing periods of “exercise” comes an increasing risk of repetitive injury.

  • It has a high yield in energy terms during activity, tails of pretty quickly post exercise in metabolic terms. (energy expended over units of time)

  • The whole energy expenditure thing I think you know well enough, great for fat loss.

Lifting weights increases muscle mass, in turn increases your metabolism. Increase your muscle mass and you lessen your fat content. It is not just that, your posture will greatly improve at any age, as long as you balance anterior and posterior muscle groups, think of that lad at the leisure centre that has arms dragging on the floor in front of him, that’s an anterior bias. Professional bench press athletes take care of that balance and maintain good posture.

It has always been cool lifting weights, less so 10 years ago but now it is leading the fitness industry.



Think after-burn, the increased rate of Oxygen post exercise:

Lifting weights raises the Metabolism for longer periods after exercise, in the article the Women’s EPOC was still elevated by 13% three hours post exercise, the RMR (resting metabolic rate) was 4.2% higher 16 hours later. So it’s not just the action of exercising that has a benefit, also it is what type you do.

As the intensity of the lifting increased, the raised periods extended.

What lifts

You can just stick to the easier lifts if you like, become strong and then use the Olympic lifts, to build a decent well balanced physique, I would suggest you only need three movements. Squat, Pull and Press.

  • The squat, this is without doubt the best exercise ever. Bringing happiness to both sexes for over 50 years - trains the whole body in actual fact, but particularly good for good Glutes and legs.

  • Deadlift, working legs, Glutes, core and back. In particular the Trapezious.

  • Presses, target different parts of the upper body with press variants.-Military press will target Deltoids, whilst Bench will target Pectorials.

There are lots of variants within this spectrum of lifts, but these types of movements is all you need. So why spend hours targeting separate muscle on machines?

Crossfit facilities have done a great job, promoting the amount of Barbell work that is happening all over the world.

Some Cardio activity

Being fit is important as I said, I like to think of cardiovascular fitness, as having the ability to increase the efficiency to transport Oxygen rich blood to muscles.

This “fitness” is important for my lifters at Oxford Powersports, I have to find different ways of achieving it though. If I suggested “Cardio” to my full time lifters, they wouldn’t like me. Short sprints for instance would fit this training.

High intensity interval training is an extremely effective training tool done correctly.

Performing exercises without a true interval of medium effort, is not true HIIT.

So one needs to be careful not to run into a steady state of activity, whatever intensity it is.

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