Fitness myths are easy to talk about – because there are about a million and counting, but this one is a biggie.
As most of you know, I own a gym.
In that gym there are two sections, separated by a more or less invisible line.
That is the “strength section” and the “cardio section” of the gym.
Before you go on – open your mind here, because we have to erase years (or possibly the better part of a lifetime) of programming here… you ready?
Here it is:
Strength is cardio.
So of course, the myth is that strength and cardio are separate, when they are one and the same.
If you do a lot of ACTUAL strength training, you probably don’t need any sort of cardio.
Here’s a thing for you to try – strap on a heart rate monitor and go for a run. Take note of your heart rate during your run.
Now – go load up a bar at the gym, and do some squats for me, with that heart rate monitor.
You should see, more or less, the same result.
So how this works out is this – your strength training if done right, will exercise your CARDIOvascular system just the same as if you were running.
Heard of HIIT? This isn’t new or special, it’s high-intensity interval training, and it’s the equivalent of running sprints in terms of cardio.
The benefit, of course, to doing strength training is that you are boosting your metabolism as you’re adding muscle to your mix… whereas excessive cardio can have the opposite (and negative) effect on your metabolism over time.
Which leads me to an important fitness lesson, that we can learn from:
There IS too much of a good thing.
Some of you follow people who spend two hours a day in the gym, six to seven days a week.
This is NOT a healthy regime. No matter who tells you – this is too much.
Exercise also = oxidative stress.
If you doubt me, find someone who has been doing excessive cardio for a while (look to middle-aged fitness instructors) and take a close look at their skin. They will look about a decade or more older than they should (I almost guarantee this). These folks are doing damage to their bodies every day – just like spending TOO MUCH time in the sun, spending too much time doing exercise is hard on your body, and will take its toll on you.
Exercise is good.
Too much exercise is not good.
The summary here is – if you don’t like spending your life in the gym (not many of us do) and want great results, then spend your time on the strength side of the line. 20-30 minutes four times a week is plenty.
Balance is key, as always… and this lesson is to be continued…