In this episode:Is cardio your enemy? Ways to combat the negative effects of cardio and invest in yourself !
TrainingIs cardio your body's weight loss enemy?
How many of you prioritize cardio? In some of the surveys I've done, it seems that there are many cardio kings and queens out there! A large portion of the exercising public does only cardio, aka aerobic exercise, in hopes of fat loss and improved health. Does cardio work for those things? Yes, but at what cost to your entire body and long term health? Let's look at what cardio/Aerobic training can do to your body.
Here's a few of the negative effects of cardio/aerobic training:
- stress on the adrenals
- chronic elevated cortisol levels
- may lower testosterone
- may hinder reproduction
- can shrink reproductive organs
- creates oxidative stress
- causes persistent inflammation
- lowers peak power output
- leads to a catabolic state/muscle wasting state in the body (if you perform it regularly without any resistance training )
There are some common misconceptions about aerobic exercise, especially in terms or fat loss and anti-aging.
Aerobic training doesn’t help with fat loss because it creates a hormonal environment that degrades muscle, spikes cortisol, and even though you’re burning calories, the deficit is rarely enough to offset the catabolic hormonal environment.
Long-term aerobic training, both at an elite level and at a recreational intensity, has been shown to lead to chronic inflammation and elevated cortisol. Why is this so bad? See, chronic inflammation results in premature aging of body tissues and has been linked to heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. For the recreational population that may perform anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes of aerobic training a few days a week, aerobic training typically leads to elevated cortisol, lower androgen hormones, increased inflammation, most of the negative affects listed above and does little to help with fat or weight loss!
Stephen H. Boutcher wrote an article on this subject called “High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise and Fat Loss.” In it, he stated,“The effect of regular aerobic exercise on body fat is negligible.” Sure, Elite aerobic athletes do tend to have lower body fat compared to the rest of the population, but research shows that anaerobic athletes such as sprinters have even lower body fat than long distance runners. Because they have more muscle, which helps burn fat, and because they do sprints which burn fat.
Sedentary people will see some benefits of aerobic training, because it is better to do aerobic training than to do nothing at all!
Now let me ask you something, are you an endurance athlete or are you someone who wants to lose weight or “stay in shape” ? Shouldn't you choose the best exercise for your goal? If you are an endurance athlete, you'll want to incorporate strength training into your program. If you are someone who wants to lose weight or “stay in shape” then you want to focus on strength training!
Let's review the bad news about aerobic training:
- doesn’t help the everyday person lose fat
- elevates cortisol
- lowers androgens
- degrades muscle
- causes loss of power
- increases inflammation
Hang in there, because there is some good news! There are some research-proven strategies that work to minimize the many negatives of aerobic training.
- Add strength training to an aerobic program
- supplement with Antioxidants
- add certain nutrients to your diet
The best ways to help counteract the negatives of aerobic exercise, are:
- Do strength and anaerobic training and no aerobic training.
- Do strength training in addition to your aerobic training.
- Supplements and nutrients (to be discussed in Nutrition)
Everyone should perform some type of strength training! Of course, the program would vary according to goals, age, and health history, but everyone will benefit from exercises that improve strength. Especially endurance athletes and aerobic addicts. Research has shown that strength training lowers chronic inflammation and provides protection against oxidative stress. This means that simply adding strength training to an aerobic exercise program may counter many of the negatives!
Studies and more Research
Let's review a few studies that were done.
- Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research compared the inflammatory response of two resistance training protocols after six weeks. They found that Strength training was effective at reducing oxidative stress and lowering inflammatory biomarkers over pre-training levels. They also found that Aerobic athletes who added strength training to their programs lost body fat, while aerobic training alone did not lead to fat loss.
- Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports showed that adding a strength training element to aerobic training programs will improve performance and lead to a better body composition for elite aerobic athletes. In this study, measurements of body fat, muscle cross sectional area, and short- and long-term endurance capacity in two groups of elite aerobic cyclists: an aerobic-only group that just performed their normal training and an aerobic/strength group that performed normal training with a strength program for 16 weeks. Researchers found that the aerobic/strength group decreased body fat significantly by an average of two percent from 12 to 10 percent, while body fat remained unchanged in the aerobic-only group. Other significant improvements in the aerobics/strength group that weren’t seen in the aerobics-only group were:
- increased quadriceps strengths by 12 percent
- better performance in a 45-minute time trial
- slightly better performance in a 5-minute time trial
- no negative effects of strength training for the aerobic/strength group, such as increased body weight or hypertrophy—both common concerns because elite aerobic athletes mistakenly believe that gaining strength will make them slower.
- Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research provides strong evidence for never doing aerobic training without also performing strength training. The article is a review of all previously published evidence on the effects of combining aerobic and strength training. The study found that adding strength training to aerobic programs increased performance, strength, and power. See, told you everyone should strength train! The main negative was that aerobic training alone compromised power output. This is especially critical for athletes in sports such as basketball, football, tennis, ice hockey, and volleyball. They need to be able to produce peak power, meaning they should never do aerobic training. So what should they do? interval sprints are ideal for conditioning and will produce less oxidative stress and a better hormonal response. Sprints have been shown to raise growth hormone, insulin-like growth factor-1, and produce a favorable testosterone to cortisol ratio.
NutritionSupplements and nutrients to counteract the negatives of aerobic training. Here are the top three:
AntioxidantsTo fight inflammation and oxidative stress, get as many Antioxidants in your diet as possible! Focus on vitamin E, selenium, and zinc; as supported in a 2001 Sports Medicine review. Eating fruits high in Antioxidants, such as berries, particularly raspberries, strawberries, and tart cherries is also recommended because these fruits have been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects in athletes.
Creatine can help reduce chronic inflammation (even without aerobic training), and greater blood antioxidant content. There are all kinds of benefits from supplementing with Creatine! It has been shown to:
- increase work capacity
- increase power
- elevate protein synthesis after strength training
- improve performance when tired
- lower oxidative stress from aerobic training
Omega-3s are a well accepted supplement to fight inflammation and have been shown to significantly lower oxidative stress markers from aerobic endurance exercise. There are at least 40 studies in the last two years supporting the protective effect of Omega-3s on oxidative stress. A 2009 study in Lipids in Health and Disease measured the effect of Omega-3s supplementation on inflammatory biomarkers in men with a history of performing aerobic training. Researchers note that the oxidative stress caused by training can overwhelm the body’s available antioxidant defenses and damage tissues—especially reproductive organs. The subjects in this study were males who exercised at least three days a week for 30 minutes. They were given a total of 4000 mg of omega-3s daily for six weeks, while continuing to perform their regular aerobic exercise. The group that took the Omega-3s had lower resting levels of inflammation after six weeks than a control group that did not supplement. Another great reason to add Omega-3s to your plan, especially if you're a guy!
Not sure how to put this all together and make a plan? Visit me at CoachKira.com and I can help you!
Motivation: Invest in yourselfEver notice that in first aid or on airplanes, you are told to help yourself first then others? Why is that? It's because you need to be composed and of right mind before you can help anyone else. Now in the real world taking care of yourself doesn't mean a spa pampering, it does mean taking time, or investing time in yourself to improve your quality of life so you can do the activities you enjoy. Of course, your health is your biggest investment. Without it, you are almost useless! Think of how you are when you are sick, right?
Aren't you worth it, to invest some time in exercise for your health and frame of mind, stress release. What does it take to invest in yourself? Anything from cash to nothing at all! If you are self motivated, then you can exercise on your own for free or you can join a gym. Sure a gym membership and some personal training sessions may cost anywhere from $40-300, but what you learn and the health and mind release you receive for this “investment” is tenfold!
Did you know what about 90% of people who join a gym will quit within the first 90 days? Some statistics say it is more like 50% in 6 months, but either way...many people quit! Most of the time, the underlying excuse is “no time”, “don't know what to do” or my personal favorite (b/c it is so wrong) “it didn't work” . Obviously, not everyone falls into these categories, some people really do have impossible schedules or don't know what to do, but that is where a trainer can be a time and money saver in the long run.
Many people join a gym or set out to begin an exercise program, without any consideration of having a proper program designed by a good trainer that can keep them motivated with results and fit their schedule. Hiring a trainer may not seem like an affordable option for some people, but there are ways to make it work. For example, group training options. Many trainers are willing to train 2-4 people working toward the same goal together. This lowers the cost and makes it easier to stick to your plan. It is always of value to have a trainer assess your goals and take measurements as well as design a program for you. Maybe you can't afford the trainer every day, but you can meet with her once a month for a program revision, measurement tracking/retaking session and/or a nutrition review and learn new exercise techniques.
Online programs: I am in the process of revising Clubfit. My main vision is to provide the Proven Weight Loss Program I created, that has helped hundreds of people drop weight and inches, in a format that is affordable, trackable and easy to follow.
Here's how ClubFit it works: every month or two weeks, depending on the program you choose, you gain access to new workouts. You print the sheets that show photos of the exercises for those workouts and has a log and instructions as well. It's exactly like having a trainer hand you a new program every 2-4 weeks but at a fraction of the cost. Best yet, it's been proven to get results! You can see results at FitnessMakeover.com.
I've had listeners contact me for custom programs, because they don't have trainers close by, or they don't have faith in the local trainers, and they trust my knowledge and experience. If you need specialized help like this with your exercise selection or meal plans, we can do a coaching call. I'll send you access to an application, so I can get to know your needs better before we discuss your program.
If you are an experienced or intermediate exerciser who is just inconsistent, then this is the perfect plan for you. Your accountability is with me! E-mail checkins and follow up calls keep you on track. And, you know I see thru most excuses!
Make the investment and commitment to first take care of yourself, so you can be there and be healthy for your family and friends.
Get all the most recent episodes on iTunes or download this episode here:
Fit 187: Enemy Cardio, Supplements, Invest in You
References: Charles Poliquin, Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research,Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports