Sunday, August 14, 2011

Why do we do what we do?

I've mentioned my friend, Karen, in the past several times. Slightly over a year ago, she and her family moved clear across the country and while we've stayed close through phone calls, facebook, and texting it just wasn't the same as the hours we used to spend chatting over our kitchen tables, drinking sweet tea and letting all of our boys run wild through the house. Until last week. My boys and I packed up our suitcases and headed across the United States on a redeye flight (the next time I decide to fly over night with two young children, smack me, OK?).

We showed up in PIT around lunch time on Tuesday and it was as if time had stood still and the entire last year apart hadn't occurred. Our boys were best friends immediately and Karen and I simply chatted away the entire ride back to her house. None of us had slept much on the flight, but that didn't matter, we were back with our friends and that was better than 10 espressos. The excitement was palpable.

Karen is a triathlete and she's also a Zumba and aerobics instructor. She knows that recently I've put nearly all steady state cardio on the back burner and have been focusing on strength training and she had a lot of questions about my workouts. I happily answered all of them, until we were on our way back to the airport on Thursday and she asked for my help in shaping a workout schedule for her ~ she said "I know you strength train and I know it's important and I need to do it, too. But, why?" "Why what?" "What do I get out of it? Will it make me faster in my tri's?, What will it do?" "It will make you stronger" "But why do I need to be stronger?" And then I was stumped. To be fair, I was also exhausted and functioning on about 50% brain power, but I've been thinking of her question ever since. This is what I've come up with:

For all of my adult life (and most of my adolscent one) my entire focus has been on losing weight ~ at any cost. I took diet pills in highschool, I drank diet shakes all through college, I started on caffeine pills during my first desk job and I tried every single fad diet known to man. Guess what ~ I was still fat. Not only was I fat, but I was tired all of the time, I battled depression and my blood pressure was going up.

Now, weightloss is secondary. I want to be healthy. Plain and simple. I've met a lot of skinny people that aren't healthy, but there aren't very many truly healthy people that are over weight. I decided to focus on health. I know the weightloss will come.

Enter strength training. There are so many benefits to resistence training ~ and I'm reading more and more articles about it every day. I can't ignore them. Weight training:

  • Increases your resting metabolism, which means you continue to burn more calories even when your workout is over

  • Takes the strain off of your joints & tendons and puts the pressure back on the muscles, where it belongs.

  • Builds stronger bones and fights against osteoperosis

  • Doesn't require you to spend hours at the gym, or on the pavement, trying to burn just a few more calories.

  • Builds lean body mass while at the same time melts body fat.

  • Has been linked to longer, healthier live spans.

  • And most importantly, weight training is BADASS!!!

One thing that is not on this list is heart health. Yes, one still needs cardio workouts to strengthen the heart. However, I'm becoming less and less of a steady state cardio fan and more and more of a high intesity interval training fan.

A few weeks ago, I came across this article by Rachel Cosgrove, in it she describes how training for an Ironman actually made her lose muscle tone, increased her body fat and basically turned her flabby. (Please click through and read her whole article, it's a fascinating, but quick read and she says it so much more effectively than I could!) She started to research this phenomena and found the following statistics and studies:

Learn to Love Intensity, Not Duration

Let's review some of the research:

• December 2006, Canadian researchers reported that just two weeks of interval training boosted women's ability to burn fat during exercise by 36%.

• In January 2007, a six-month study was published showing that adding aerobic exercise had no additional effect on body composition, over diet alone.

• In June of 2007, a twelve-month study was published which had the subjects doing six hours of aerobic exercise per week, training six days a week, for one year. The average weight loss was only three pounds for that one-year period.

• According to a British study, levels of Human Growth Hormone, which assists in building muscle and burning fat, skyrocketed 530% in subjects after just thirty seconds of sprinting as fast as they could on a stationary bike.

• Australian fitness researchers had eighteen women perform twenty minutes of interval training on a stationary bike — eight-seconds of sprinting followed by twelve seconds of recovery — throughout the workout, three days a week.

The women lost an average of five-and-a-half pounds over fifteen weeks, without dieting. Similar groups performing forty minutes of moderate cycling, three days a week, actually gained a pound of fat over the same period. Two of the heavier women who did intervals dropped eighteen pounds.

• In a side-by-side comparison, researchers at McMaster University in Ontario measured fitness gains in eight interval exercisers — using twenty to thirty minute cycling workouts that included four to six thirty-second sprints — against eight volunteers who pedaled at a lower intensity for 90 to 120 minutes.

After two weeks, the interval group was every bit as fit as those who worked out three to four times as long.

I'm a convert. I enjoy running and I'm not giving it up completely and I still have every intention of completing a triathlon ~ but I'm no longer looking at it as the fountain of fat loss. These activities are for pure enjoyment ~ the fat loss is going to come from the weight room and intense intervals. Period. So, THIS is why I strength train!

1 comment:

  1. Good info on the strength training! I have been starting to lift some free weights and think I need to kick it up a notch!