Just Cardio or Strength and Resistance Training too?

For the past 2 months I have found my second home. As a triathlete for the past 8 years I have been addicted to going long. Swimming further, riding further and running further each and every day. However, being Chiropractor and owner of Transitions Chiropractic Newcastle, I am also addicted to learning about the human body. How can we get the most out of body? How can we push it further, faster & harder? What ways can we help the body age & regenerate so that we can be here ideally for a good time AND a long time? Do we focus on cardio or add strength and resistance training too?

This wanting to learn and ever present study has led me to believe that cardio does have its place however, if optimal human performance, lifestyle and adaptation is the goal, then we need more than chronic cardio. For most of us I believe that we want to get more out of our bodies each and every day in addition to ageing as well as possible. This lead me back to The Concept.

Since joining The Concept, I have found a great place to work on some of my cardio but especially my strength and resistance training. The range of equipment is fantastic not to mention the space and the recovery options available. Although I haven’t done a class as yet and have generally been reluctant of Crossfit, I am impressed by the classes run by Brogan and Josh. Correct movement technique always seems more important than just another rep.

So what are the benefits of adding strength and resistance training to your routine?

  1. Massive release of testosterone and human growth hormone– this occurs as a result of heavy lifting. Much of this research is based on total body lifts like deadlifts and squats. Although I am sure you have heard of the “runner’s high” the positive hormonal response is considerably greater and comes at a much lower cost to your body when you ask your body to lift heavy.
  2. Increase power– Lifting heavy asks your body to recruit more motor units (the active parts of the muscle). If you have found yourself at a plateau with running, swimming or riding, maybe there is no more muscle to recruit. Try adding some heavy strength work so your muscles develop the ability to contract and push harder by recruiting and building more firing potential. Research has shown that the concentric (explosive part) of the lift is the most beneficial for endurance athletes.
  3. Increase flexibility– When running or riding, the motion is so repetitive the muscle fibres and tendons stretch in a very limited range. As a result they’ll shorten to the only length they are required to stretch to. Weight training will force your muscles and ligaments to go slightly beyond the passive limits under load. This demands more give from the muscles and as a result increases an endurance athletes flexibility. Think about the range of motion required from the ankles hips and shoulders with an overhead squat- pretty impressive.
  4. Bulletproofing- Harder, stronger and faster = harder to kill. The bulletproof athlete must have some cardio ability, but in the true fight or flight response sometimes fight is required. Being able to move or lift something heavy can be absolutely essential even in our modern world. Weight training will strengthen muscles, tendons, ligaments and even bones. The stronger these structures are together, the less likely your body is to breakdown even when under endurance fatigue.
  5. Metabolism– thanks again to the hormonal release, heavy weight training helps to ramp up metabolism even at a relative low heart rate. This can assist changes in body composition and help even with decreasing the dreaded abdominal “fat tyre” which is associated with higher risks or diabetes and heart issues that can still be seen in cardio centric athletes.
  6. Body shape and size– lets face it, no one likes a skinny, amorphic looking athlete. One of the greatest distance runners, Herb Elliot, was a huge proponent of heavy weights. No amount of swimming with paddles will create shoulders that will excite your wife. Sometimes more is better!!!

So chances are I’ll see you back at the gym, putting the work in as “your future is created by what you do today, not tomorrow.”