Why should I include strength training?

It is well documented that strength training can aid in increased fitness, specifically aerobic capacity. What does that me for you? Aerobic capacity is the rate at which the body can take up and utilize oxygen effectively. In short, it’s why when we do cardio at the gym. Doing cardio stresses the body in such a way that a stimulus is sent to the brain that says to make more proteins, enzymes and such that will help the body meet the demands that is imposed on it; in this case it is oxygen deprivation.

So how does strength training help you use oxygen efficiently? In one study done in 2010, it was thought that strength and endurance training resulted in increased aerobic capacity by the increases in capillary density which promoted oxygen delivery and consumption. The group that did a combination of strength and cardio (endurance) training had improvements in every variable that was measured (Hendrickson et al 2010). It has also been reported that higher intensity exercises that incorporate a strength and cardio component organized into intervals (such as Tabata) will also result in cardiovascular fitness improvements (McRae et al 2012). This type of exercise can even be more beneficial to those who have less time to work out.

Whether it’s functional, free weights, machine weights, higher intensity or general strength moves, strength training will help your cardiovascular system out by stressing the muscles in a way that stimulates increases in capillary density and improvements in the movement and utilization of oxygen.

References:

Hendrickson NR, Sharp MA, Alemany JA, Walker LA, Harman EA, Spiering BA, Hatfield DL, Yamamoto LM, Maresh CM, Kraemer WJ, Nindl BC (2010) Combined resistance and endurance training improves physical capacity and performance on tactical occupational tasks. Eur J Appl Physiol 109: 1197-1208.

McRae G, Payne A, Zelt JGE, Scribbans TD, Jung ME, Little JP, Gurd BJ (2012) Extremely low volume, whole-body aerobic-resistance training improves aerobic fitness and muscular endurance in females. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab 37: 1124-1131.

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