Did you know that if you want to lose weight, strength training is more important than cardio? Did you know if you want to stay looking young and healthy, strength training still takes priority over cardio? Now I’m not slamming cardio as I believe in it, but strength training should always come first. In fact, if you do it right you can turn your strength training into a cardio session of its own which, in turn, burns far more calories and fat than doing the two separate!
Replace slow boring cardio exercises such as walking on the treadmill or going slow on the bike with fun strength training to prevent age-related fat gain. Now before we begin we need to look at what kind of exercises I’m talking about. I’m talking about replacing aerobic exercises such as long-distance running with strength training to prevent age-related fat gain.
Research now shows (and has been done for quite a while now) that long-distance runners typically gain fat and increase waist size as they age. In addition to this, unless a runner significantly increases their weekly distance or the intensity of their running over time, they will yes you said it before me gain fat.
Why does this happen? Well, let’s look at it logically, you start the gym and you can squat the empty bar which typically weighs 20kg (unless you have a safety squat bar which weighs 33kg and is quite awesome and highly recommended), then the first time you train you do 2 sets of 8 with the 20kg bar. If you find it comfortable, so next time you go to 22, then 25, etc., within 6 months you are doing a 100kg squat and you keep pushing it.
With long-distance running, most people go “I’ve run 5 miles every day 5 days a week” You aren’t progressing. Your body has no need to adapt or improve. So after several weeks, it now sees it as a natural thing. Similar to how you may sit in a chair all day, your body begins to HOLD onto fat stores and actually make you fatter!
A simple solution to stop this is to do strength training, in addition, aerobic exercise modes like running or even better you can replace aerobic training altogether for better health and fat loss. Do a HIIT cardio. Much better, effective, and leads to sexier bodies!
A 2006 study of 12,568 regular runners found that over the 9-year study period, the majority of the runners gained weight and increased waist circumference. Increases in body weight and waist circumference were greater in men compared to women, (but not by much, mind you. Only 2% more of men than women, so I wouldn’t read into this too much!) and it was also much higher in the runners who decreased their weekly mileage over the study period. However, even the runners who maintained or slightly increased mileage gained weight and had a larger waistline by the end of the study.
The only runners who didn’t get fatter were those who significantly increased their mileage during the study. For example, by tripling weekly mileage, from less than 16 km/week to more than 64 km/week, both men and women in the study decreased body weight and waist circumference significantly.
The study authors were concerned with these results since their population performed regular, fairly intense physical activity and they achieved the dose suggested by public health and fitness organizations to prevent weight gain and improve health. Cardiovascular risk factors, diabetes, and sarcopenia all ended up with increases in fat gain and the loss of lean mass that comes from regular aerobic activity. Add that to the risk of diabetes that actually got higher and you see the problem.
The authors suggest that to prevent fat gain as we age it’s necessary to achieve the Institute of Medicine’s recommendation of at least 60 minutes a day of vigorous activity. They point to the need to increase the duration or intensity over time as the body adapts.
A better solution to prevent age-related fat gain is to do strength training at a vigorous intensity since it need not be done 60 minutes, 7 days a week, and the intensity can be easily modified to elicit adaptations without increasing the training time. Strength training will aid in developing muscles to prevent sarcopenia while decreasing cardiovascular disease risk factors such as chronic inflammation and insulin resistance. At the very least, runners and people who are inclined to do aerobic exercise should do strength training as well so as to prevent age-related fat gain.
Overall, long-distance running takes it out of the body and the need for added strength training becomes equally important. 1.) from a performance standpoint (IE to improve your performance) and 2.) for looks and keeping body fat off.