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Wednesday, January 18. 2023
We've written about this topic in the past, but it's worth reviewing the misconceptions about cardio fitness and cardio exercise. (Remember, in our view, "cardio" should be only 1/3 of your exercise program beacuse it does little for muscle and bone strength, and little for athleticism.)
Any exercise, from walking to weight-lifting, makes more demand on heart function than sitting or lying down. So cardio exercise has a spectrum from very light to maximum intensity. Simply put, the core purpose of "cardio" exercise is to maintain or upgrade heart function (cardiac condition is measured by things like a Cardiac Stress Test with Echo, Stroke Volume, Cardiac Output, cardiac vasculature, and left ventricle size to some extent). Like weight-lifting for skeletal muscle, it requires stress, relative to your conditioning and medical condition.
With lighter stresses (eg non-sprint, endurance-oriented swimming laps, jogging, rowing, stair machine, elliptical, etc) we are putting our hearts to some use, but we are working more on general time endurance than cardio. (Lots of people do those things thinking that they involve fat-burning, but don't count on that to work if you do 1 hour/day.) For people who are not training for specific goals, building endurance is great for life. Nobody wants to slow down or feel tired during ordinary recreational activities like sports or hiking. These non-sprint exercises aim for around 70% of one's max heart rate to make it worth your precious time.
The higher the physical demand - the intensity of an exertion for your level of fitness - the more you are training your heart rather than just using it. The highest levels of exertion (say, with sets of deadlifts near 80% of your max, or with 30-second sprints) are anaerobic and can push your heart rate to 90% of your max. That heart-pounding rest time or slow time is to catch up on oxygen.
For endurance, an hour of lap swimming, cycling, jogging, elliptical, stair machine, ski machine, rower, etc at around 70% of your max heart rate is where you ought to be, if in decent health. Over time, you will need to raise the speed to get to those heart rates. These exercises do nothing much to build muscle or bone strength.
For maximum cardiac fitness (with bonus endurance benefits as well), mixing in sprints which get your HR to 80-90% of your max should be included. Bursts of intensity. In the Maggie's Fitness for Life program, the other good sources of intense cardiac stress are the powerlifts and calisthenics. Ideally, some of all of those because there is more to fitness than cardiac fitness. Fitness is a package deal.
An interesting detail is that to up your game in any area of exertion, it's always a good idea to do what you do not usually do. Explosive linebackers get better with distance running, distance runners get better with weights and sprints, heavy lifters get better with calisthenics. Balance.
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I've never seen anyone running on a treadmill with a huge smile. Most of the time its a grimace. I also notice fitness models never sweat.
"Explosive linebackers get better with distance running"
Get better at what, exactly?
Holy $h!t - we agree on something!!!
This "experiment" was actually conducted in the late 60s with the Gree Bay Packers when Phil Bengtson took over for Vince Lombardi and instituted "aerobics" for conditioning. Of course, there were many other factors that contributed to the demise of the Packers - Lombardi's offensive genius was gone (Bengtson was a defensive genius, but his prowess as an offensive mind is questionable), the players were aged, etc.....but, as I've stated before, it has a great deal to do with economics and which energy system is needed for your particular sport. If the average pro football play lasts 6 seconds, spending time on aerobic fitness DETRACTS from your goal.
The only gym in my town was locked up last week by the sheriff. That leaves only my Schwinn Airdyne for me.
I don't want to make it appear as if I'm trying to give Dr. Bliss a hard time, but she's supposed to post comments on psychology, not exercise. An inappropriate post isn't worth much. She might as well talk about tulips.
Strength training builds endurance while endurance training kills strength. Unless you're a dedicated endurance athlete, strength is a much more useful attribute in day to day living.
Here's the research-based article about the difference between high reps and low reps training methods. Read the article to know which training type you should do and why.
I have a strong sense that all of these "studies" regarding what training is best are about as reliable as all of the expert proclomations regarding COVID (masks don't work, yes they do, well, maybe).
Use your common sense. Exercising is better than not exercising. If you are walking and moving your 150 pound body (or whatever) over several miles, you're going to maintain bone density, at least on your legs.
If you do what you enjoy most, you're most likely to keep at it, and that's what's most important
Spend less time worrying about how and what you are doing and more time just doing. Americans are so fat we have no time for anything else.
another comment/question that i've wondered about. Maybe because I'm weak relative to my overall fitness, but i find it very difficult to get my heart rate up anywhere near my Max HR by lifting, even what for me is heavy. (I can easily get into the 170s running, can't get over 120 lifting). Does anyone else have that problem?
When I do a heavy set of five squats or deadlifts, my Apple Watch shows my heart rate hitting the low 150s, the same as when I do HIIT on the rower or pushing a sled. As I'm 59, that's about 94% of my (calculated) max heart rate. For reference, I'm 5' 10", 215 lbs, and my squat workout yesterday was three sets of five at 285 lbs (slowly working my way back up as my squats are still 60 lbs down from my last pre-shutdown workout in March).
What's your age, height, weight and what weight are you lifting for how many sets and reps?
I'm 62; 5'11 and 178. My MHR is still in the mid 180s (resting is 48-50 generally). So, I'm very fit for my age on those metrics. But, squatting with 120 and deadlifting 150 is about it for me (yeah i know its lame, and i don't do it regularly, etc).
Again according to my Apple Watch, my resting heart rate is in the mid-50's which, according to various sources on the internet, puts me in the Athlete range. This despite not doing any cardio, any calisthenics, or any endurance work other than HIIT at most two times a week, in addition to my 2-3 lifting workouts a week. Sorry, Bird Dog/Dr. Bliss, no cardio, calisthenics, or endurance work for me.
I really shouldn't have written "no cardio, calisthenics, or endurance work for me", as I occasionally do a HIIT workout and understand its value. I still stand on my view that developing strength is more important and more generally useful than excessive time spent on 'cardio'.
Just curious, why is your RHR of a higher priority than your squat and deadlift? There's a lot of room for improvement in your strength numbers.
""cardio" should be only 1/3 of your exercise program beacuse it does little for muscle and bone strength, and little for athleticism.)"
This makes no sense. I doubt this statement can stand up to a scientific debate.
What is the purpose of exercise? Most will cite health, some will admit that it makes you look batter (which I believe is why there is so much misinformation about exercise) and probably the closest to the right answer will be to improve athleticism and athletic abilities.
The genetic, obvious, clear and undisputable purpose for athletic ability in humans is to fight/defend/protect, hunt and gather and provide shelter and other necessities. Exercising for any other goal is a diversion, a choice, a frill. You can do squats until your thighs are huge and it will actually be a disadvantage in everyday life, except maybe at the beach if you are an attention whore. Imagine a father and husband in Ukraine when the Russians attack and he puts on his gym shorts to show off his massive thighs to the Russian soldiers in his effort to save his wife and kids; yeah that should work.
Your exercise goals should be well rounded and weighted towards (no pun intended) cardio. Not exercise bikes or treadmills but running or hiking while carrying all your family possessions. You, any human being, should be able to shoulder 50% of your body weight and walk for ten hours. You should be able to drop that weight and run at top speed for 2-5 miles and have enough strength to hike back pick up your load and carry it until dark. Squats and deadlifts won't give you this. In fact if squats and deadlifts are your go to exercise I can probably outwalk and outrun you and I'm 80 YO.
Strength training is good but weight lifting is an artificial technique that leaves a lot to be desired. Cardio is a must! Yoga and mat exercises is "playing". If you are physically unable to walk for 20 miles carrying 60-100 pounds and if you cannot run 5 eight minute miles you are not in shape. You may be able to bench 300 lbs or pick up the back of a Volksvagon but you are not in shape.
I understand we are talking about "gyms" and what passes for exercise in them and we are talking about the latte generation who exercises to "look good". But don't kid yourself into thinking you are in shape as you exercise in front of a mirror just because it pleases you.
I'm very curious to hear your explanation of how cardio builds muscle and bone strength, because it can't. Two important concepts to understand. One is that strength is the ability of your muscles to apply force to some outside resistance, be that a weight, another person, the ground, whatever. Second is that muscles and bones (and everything else in your body) react and adapt exactly to the stresses you apply to them.
Cardio, as commonly defined, consists of repeated bouts of bodyweight (or slightly more than bodyweight) exercises, designed to get the heart rate elevated. Because all the exercises are at or near bodyweight, there is no (or little) stress that the muscles and bones need to adapt to beyond some low threshold.
Weightlifting, done correctly, adds to the amount of weight the muscles have to move and bones have to support in successive workouts. Every bit of added weight is something your muscles and bones need to, and will, adapt to, becoming stronger in the process. And this progressive adding of weight is called training, as opposed to exercise, which is, as you correctly say, working out in front of a mirror with no set plan to reach a goal.
Would the Russians be more impressed by the Ukrainian's 10k time? At least his muscular thighs could help hold the door closed against them more effectively than if he was weak.
Which version of you do you think is going to have an easier time picking up 50% of your body weight: You with a 135 lb squat or you with a 315 lb squat (a very realistic goal for just about any healthy adult male)? How much easier will it be to carry that weight for ten hours if your bones and muscles are already well adapted to lifting much heavier weights, an adaptation that cardio does not provide? Don't get me wrong, as I stated in comment 18.104.22.168.1 above, there is a place for cardio work. It just takes a back seat to strength.
"Weight lifting is an artifical technique"? Honestly, I don't know what that means. Picking a weight up off the ground is artifical? Squatting down and standing back up again is not natural?
Here is an interesting article discussing how strength training adds to overall fitness and athleticism, as defined by Jim Cawley's 10 aspects of fitness: Strength & Barbells: The Foundations of Fitness
yada, yada, yada.
Look at aboriginals. Never been to a gym Never showed off their squat thighs to their buddies. They can run rings around you and would have to save your life after your 2nd day in their world. Do you think their bones are weak? Wake up. you have no clue what you are talking about. You are a preening gym yuppie.
Here's your test; run a marathon. Take the Marine challenge; 20 miles with a 90 lb ruck. Hike a segment of the PCT.
I notice you don't address a single point I raised.
And, as it turns out, aboriginals do indeed have weak bones:
Despite sparse data, it appears that Indigenous men and women have a substantially higher risk of hip fracture at a much younger age compared to non-Indigenous Australians.
That is from Musculoskeletal health of Indigenous Australians, published in Archives of Osteoporosis.
BTW, I'm almost 62 years old, so the 'yuppie' name calling doesn't quite fit. :-)
That is aboriginals today who are civilized and live off the government and do very little except drink and do drugs, not aboriginals who live like aboriginals.
Been saving them for reference.
Got a link to the consolidated
"Maggies Fitness Program" compendium, please?
Keep up the great work!