Hey Baby Boomers, there is no such thing as cardiovascular exercise!
How’s that for a revolutionary concept? And here’s more; the division between resistance training (RT – training with weights) and “cardio” (walking, treadmill, stair climbing, etc) is misleading.
The truth is that proper resistance training is all anybody needs. For years there has been a growing movement at the highest end of the “fitness biz” that cardio is just a term. It’s been suggested that common forms of this exercise have no place in an athletic performance setting, let alone the workouts of those looking to get out of a sedentary lifestyle.
Research done back in 2012 supports the position that traditional cardiovascular exercise is unnecessary and that RT performed properly can deliver all the physical benefits any of us need.
James Steele of the UK, Doug McGuff, MD of the US, and a team of researchers published a study in the June 2012 edition of the Journal of Exercise Physiology (JEP). The study found that “RT to failure can produce cardiovascular (CV) fitness effects while simultaneously producing improvements in strength, power, and other health and fitness variables.”
The research team hypothesized that the body’s response to traditional cardio would be the same as it was to exercise that produced temporary muscular failure achieved by RT.
When the researchers complied their data they found that they were pretty much right on the money. Steele and Company found that the intensity – effort – of the exercise is the variable that needs to be considered, and that the higher the intensity/effort, the more effective the exercise.
So low intensity cardio, the kind of exercise most Baby Boomers engage in, is of little, if any, value.
Exercise is exercise, and the intensity of it – the level of effort – dictates the physiological response.
This means that properly programmed and performed weight training can deliver all of the benefits ascribed to cardio, plus improve strength, power and a host of other fitness variables.
How great is it to think that Baby Boomers can stop wasting time with the fitness busywork that is traditional cardio?
For Baby Boomers, the implications of these findings are quite significant. As I said, eliminating this low-intensity cardio, which many think is “fat burning,” will free up a lot of time both in and out of the gym.
Instead of two hours in the gym, where 25-50% of the time is spent doing cardio, workouts can be 45-60 minutes of high-quality, result-oriented work.
Increased heart rate and blood flow occurs when performing weight training. You also develop strength and power, something that old school cardio can never do.
The best way for Baby Boomers to implement this strategy is to engage in circuit training, the method of training that provides the stimulus discussed in the Steele study mentioned above.
Circuit training will be the subject of a future post. To give you a Cliff Notes description, circuit training prescribes weight training exercises be performed consecutively with little if any rest between each exercise, and a recovery period at the end of each circuit.
Here is a simple example of circuit training:
1. Step-ups holding dumbbells – x 10 each leg
2. Dumbbell curl and press – x 10
3. Body weight lunges – x 10 each leg
4. Standing dumbbell row – x 10 each arm
These exercises are performed with 10-15 seconds of rest in between sets, and with 30-second to 3-minute rests in between circuits.
If you have not done this kind of exercise before, trust me – circuit training is challenging, effective and efficient.
Run through this circuit 3 or 4 times and you will get one of the best 30-minute workouts you could ever have.
Baby Boomers who work with personal trainers should ask them to include circuit training and other methods of weight training mentioned in Steele’s research. They should also kick the cardio habit.
Sal Marinello is a Baby Boomer and coach with over 25 years of experience working with athletes and teams from the youth to Division 1 college level, as well as with non-athletes of all ages and ability levels. You can read more of Sal’s fitness musings at www.HealthAndFitnessAdvice.com and follow him on Twitter @SalMarinello.
DISCLAIMER: We are not doctors, this is not medical advice, and you should always consult your health professional before beginning a new exercise program.
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