Not All Exercise Is Born Equal
If we just go through life like a headless chicken, mindlessly 'doing' without any planning, research or debriefing then we are not going to get the most out of our lives. The same goes for training our bodies, there are optimum ways to do it for general well-being and to make actual improvements, we can stand on the shoulders of people past and learn from them and their efforts.
In general there is a holy trinity in exercise, RESISTANCE, ENDURANCE and FLEXIBILITY. Like in life, things aren't black and white, the same here, different activities could be scaled according to how much they impact each of these three areas. In this article we will focus on the difference between resistance and endurance training as an explanation as to why we offer strength and cardio blast classes at Everest, we have already written about Yoga (Flexibility).
Resistance training is typically brief and intense, driving your muscles to generate force from ATP stores instead of relying on oxygen. That brief, powerful stress to your system is great for you. Think weightlifting, think burpees ;), think press ups and the like. These would fall under the umbrella of RESISTANCE training, often associated with building muscle and getting bigger and obviously stronger.
Other benefits of this type of training?
Resistance training develops your brain, detoxes your body, and builds your physique.
Resistance training makes your muscles stronger (surprise!) but it also taps into your brain so you move better. In a recent study, 15 men lifted weights for 14 weeks. At the end their muscles could generate more force, of course, but what’s more interesting is that their neural drive – their ability to send electrical signals from brain to muscle – also got stronger and faster. With greater neural drive comes more precise control of the way you move.
Resistance training detoxes your body as well. Your lymphatic system runs through your whole body, bathing your cells in a clear fluid called lymph. Lymph collects waste from your cells and clears it, but unlike blood, lymph has no organ to move it through your body. It relies on physical movement instead. One study found that 10-15 minutes of brief muscle contractions increased lymph flow by 300-600%.
Resistance training increases metabolic rate, keeping you in a fat-burning state. It also improves insulin sensitivity, and to top it off, the muscle you build will burn fat for you while you rest. That’s a holy trinity approach to burning fat!
An excellent 2010 review of randomized, controlled studies showed that strength training decreases anxiety, boosts memory and cognition, reduces fatigue, and makes you happier.
Strength training increases bone density.
Strength training causes a sharp increase in testosterone and a 200-700% increase in human growth hormone, promoting muscle growth and fat loss in both men and women.
Resistance training sounds pretty good. What about endurance training?
Endurance training makes you smarter, happier, leaner, and more creative.
Resistance training taxes your muscles in short, intense bursts, depleting your ATP stores; endurance training, on the other hand, taps into your aerobic system, relying on oxygen from your lungs to produce energy. Running, biking, swimming, Muay Thai– anything that keeps you breathing heavily stresses your aerobic system and tests your endurance, bringing a new host of benefits to the table.
Endurance training makes you smarter. It boosts brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a powerful little protein that speeds up learning, increases memory, protects your brain from damage, and promotes neurogenesis (the growth of new brain cells). A randomized, controlled study of 12 men showed that three months of daily cycling nearly quadrupled resting BDNF levels. Resistance training also increases BDNF, but only in a short window immediately after exercise. Endurance training seems to boost BDNF more permanently.
Endurance training makes you happier, too. The runner’s high is real: moderate aerobic exercise improves mood, possibly in part by releasing feel-good endorphins. You don’t have to run until you’re blue in the face, either. 10 days of simple powerwalking was enough to significantly lessen symptoms in depressed people.
Endurance training decreases body fat more than resistance training does.
You even become more creative after a good bout of aerobic exercise. 31 men and women did either aerobic training or aerobic dance, and both groups showed greater mental flexibility and creativity afterward when compared to a third group that didn’t exercise.
Aerobic exercise also improves aerobic capacity by strengthening your lungs. Again, no surprise there.
So now we know the different types of training and the different benefits there are we can organise ourselves better according to our goals, and potentially stop neglecting a certain area now we have the knowledge.
Everest understands the importance in training all these three areas and therefore offers you a schedule which reflects that. Start now to ask yourself some questions; Am I strong but inflexible? Am I super flexible but get tired walking up the steps in the metro? Can I sprint for a good distance but not do 5 press ups? All great people have the ability to look at themselves in a brutally honest way, not to depress themselves but to use the information gathered to move forward and become a better person, the same goes here.
If you don't have enough time for Yoga, strength and cardio blasts and all the different classes we offer then just come to the Muay Thai classes. There you are hitting endurance and flexibility at the same time and some resistance due to all the burpees, squats and press ups we do, especially if you arrive late 😉.