Men's health: weightlifting vs. cardio

Weightlifting provide the best results for men. Photo: Exercise bike/ AP

WASHINGTON, October 8, 2013 — Guys wish to have muscle mass, trim waists and large chests combined with six-pack abs and bulging biceps that are all part of a ‘want package’. So why are so many men engaging in cardio-aerobic exercise? The type of exercise that promotes aerobic proficiency is not what contributes in the most beneficial way to the ‘want package’. In fact, too much cardio/aerobic activity can diminish these goals.

A recent Duke University study claimed that cardio/aerobic exercise was a superior means for losing fat and gaining muscle. The media picked up on the study as bible for better health and means of achievement and trumpeted this all across the nation. However, there were flaws and variables in this study that some feel render it questionable.

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The participants were clinically obese and for the study, put on a 2,100 calorie per day diet. The participants were reported to have lost fat and gained an average of 5.4 lbs. of muscle over an eight month period.

Factually, a 2,100 calorie per day diet will promote weight loss with the clinically obese without cardio/aerobic activity and a 5.4 gain in muscle mass over an eight month period is not an Olympic feat.

Consider a long, boring cardio workout has serious drawbacks such as placing enormous amounts of pressure on joints, working the same muscles over and over while other muscles weaken, not having any effect on the type of fat the surrounds the heart and can be so mundane that many people drop out from boredom, making this type of workout as singular can be defeating.

As far as building muscle mass, the cardio-aerobic method is minimally useful yet this is not to say cardio is useless. Cardio has a place in health but not so much for what men seek.

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Guys, it’s time to hit the weights but there is a method for losing fat, building muscle, burning maximum calories after your workout which, by the way, lasts much longer at a greater burn rate than cardio.

The Journal of Transitional Medicine conducted a study which is widely accepted in training academia regarding which workout is best for losing weight, burning fats and extended caloric post-workout burn rate.

The study used a group of healthy men working with weights in typical fashion such as bench, leg and military presses, sit-ups, leg and bicep curls, machine rows and triceps’ extensions. This group performed the traditional four sets of eight to twelve reps.

A second group performed what is known as the “rest-pause” technique and did just three exercises; leg press, bench press and machine row. For each effort, the participants chose the heaviest weight they could use for six times then rested for 20 seconds.

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Using the same amount of weight, they did as many reps as they could muster and again, rested for 20 seconds then repeated each one of the three exercises by performing the ‘as many as they could’ effort.

After the third series, the participants rested for two and one half minutes. This counted as one total set. They repeated the three sets for the leg press and two of sets for the bench press and machine row.

The rest-pause technique has been known as beneficial for a long time but until now, not studied in depth. This technique uses heavy weights to burden the muscles with mechanical effects and the recovery periods to promote the effects of high intensity endurance training.

24 hours later, the rest-pause technique participants had a resting metabolism that was reported as 452 calories higher than before their workout. The traditional group showed a mere 98 calorie increase.

The study posits the reason for the greater caloric burn long after the workout is the muscles must work harder to rebuild in the post-workout phase. However, logic dictates the traditional workout uses more calories during the workout phase.

The rest-pause technique produced a longer raised metabolism than traditional weight lifting methods and cardio workouts and this is critical for fat burning, weight loss and burning fat from around the heart. It is also crucial for abdominal fat reduction.

A magnificent longitudinal (over time) study with 32,000 male participants reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) posits weight training for men resulted in a 73 percent reduction for risk of Diabetes II whereas cardio-aerobic came in at 58%. This was based on 150 minutes of weekly workout.

These studies combined with many others suggest a weight program mixed with minimal cardio-aerobic exercise perhaps alternating function days. The reasons offered for minimal cardio-aerobic were the pressures put on the same joints , muscle groups and the time for extended cardio-aerobic may individually or collectively cause a reduction in weight training which has proven of greater benefit.

To promote and foster a health oriented workout atmosphere and have weights and aerobic machines at the ready, joining a gym such as the YMCA is a good idea. Many people do not have the discipline for home workout and tire of changing weights and accommodating interruptions that ruin a cycle or make one ‘get cold’ by being distracted.

Additionally, professionally trained and educated folks at the gym can offer beneficial advice and training tips. Others working out are usually glad to help as well. Performing a weight lifting procedure wrong can do more harm than good.

Join as soon as you can. For your health, it is cheap insurance and will make you feel anew.


Paul Mountjoy is a Virginia based writer, psychotherapist and nutritionist.







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