Running vs. Strength Training

Good morning

This past week was not as I would have liked as far as putting mileage on my running shoes. Thankfully, I did kick my butt at the Center with a couple high intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts. The imbalance was definitely not intentional, nor did I choose to prioritize strength training over running. The week was miserable weather wise and I just couldn’t motivate myself to run in cold, windy, rainy conditions.

Favoring strength training over running this past week was not necessarily a bad thing, but balance is still my goal. The prevailing findings as to which is more important (resistance or cardiovascular) continue to be somewhat unclear. I have read several studies and opinions on this subject, and I have determined the answer to be: “It depends.”

We have 650 muscles in the body and their importance are significant to our stability, body composition, mobility and cardio vascular health. How we maintain a majority of these muscles will go a long way towards determining our ability to function and maintain a healthy existence. Here are a few of the important components and why they matter:

STABILITY: Early in life we have a natural growth progression for both muscles and bones. However, at various points the natural progression stops, and the process starts reversing. Therefore, it becomes imperative to add resistance training, in-order to at minimum maintain strong bones and needed muscle to function for daily living.

BODY COMPOSITIOIN: As with stability, the aging process is not beneficial to maintaining our composition on its own. In our late 20s we begin a descent in our muscle of around 1.5% per year. Because muscle directly effects our metabolic rate (metabolism), a decrease in muscle directly impacts the number of calories we burn per day. Burning calories is not only done during a workout, but throughout the day to maintain functioning. However, the amount we burn is based on our body composition. A single pound of muscle burns between 7-10 calories a day, while a pound of fat burns 2-3. If the daily goal is to burn more calories than consumed, it is easy to do the math and understand why muscle is king.

MOBILITY: Mobility is kind of the wild card that is a result of combined training efforts. We need strong bones, muscles and range of motion in order to function. Therefore, it is important to move with purpose as well as strengthen. Yoga, Pilates stretching and etc… are all valuable for helping to maintain range of motion, however, resistance (strength training) is still critical for long term functioning and posture. While we may gain wisdom as the candles on the cake increase, our mobility ever so slowly decreases.

It seems I have answered my question as to which (strength training or cardio) should be our focus. Not so. The Heart is a muscle and unlike the other 649 muscles, it is required for life. Pretty obvious statement I know, but simply having a heart that functions should not be the goal. Our cardiovascular system directly impacts are ability to function and how we train it (good or bad), will most likely dictate our long-term capability (functioning) and most likely our time on earth. It has been found that resistance training benefits our heart, but the benefits of aerobic exercising has proven superior in improving the efficiency for which the heart pumps blood throughout the body. Resulting in a stronger more efficient cardiovascular system.

We all have our preferences and often choose our physical activity based on lifestyle, social enjoyment, or other factors. I get all of that, but my goal is to help people understand we all need to intelligently determine how to improve or maintain our ability to function in a healthy way.For many years I focused on running and random strength training. While I improved my cardiovascular, I suffered injuries because of my lack of understanding of the importance of proper training. Education has helped me to better understand the need for more functional training for both my running and my strength training. I wish I had had the knowledge or some better guidance, but I mostly depended on so called health magazines.

If I had to determine between strength or cardiovascular training for an individual, I would have to decide based on the individuals greatest need. And that varies client by client.

The great part of NFLF is the enjoyment I get when I meet people and discuss how to help them with their fitness and health. Many come looking for either running or better body composition, but after we have chatted for a bit, most understand the importance of both.

Time to get along.

Have a great week and God Bless my friends!