There is a lot of controversy surrounding weight training and cardio exercise. Just to name a few; heavy weight vs. light weights; long cardio workouts vs. short intense workouts, walking vs. running, combining both kinds of workouts; How many times aweek and how long; and the list goes on. With all the equipment available and all the advice freely given, I’ve asked Maggie to help sort this out. So, just few questions to someone who should know. Maggie Garemani and of course her ‘to the point’ answers.
Maggie: Let’s start with the obvious. Why combine weight training with cardio?
Before I answer your question I want to discuss the positive effects weight training and cardio exercise can have in reducing the stress most of us feel in our day-to-day lives. It is not only getting into shape and staying there that’s a result of weight training and cardio exercise, it’s the tremendous effect it has on the mind as well.
These days stress seems to be an inseparable part of our lives. There can be good stress; the kind that motivates us to perform better and, bad stress; the one that causes us to worry about things in our day-to-day life and the really bad stress; that is brought on by a climactic event. Stress causes the body to start stockpiling fat in the mid-section. Dr. Oz explains, “Your system thinks a crisis is coming. It deposits fat cells into the belly because it’s the most convenient storage space.” So Maggie says, “To relieve the stress, take long nature hikes and try to explore the beautiful trails around Southern California and elsewhere. Clear your head by tuning into this magnificent and breathtaking creation of Nature. By letting go of the negative messages in our heads, tuning into the marvels around us and seeing the harmonious connection of all things. You’ll experience a sense of stress-free relaxation. Besides exercise and meditation, keep healthy snacks around to munch on in order to avoid empty calories. Things like apples, grapes, raisons, and any other fruit you like. Ok, enough, let’s answer your questions and I’ll spend a lot more time talking about stress in future issues.
When we do a cardio workout, our body burns hundreds of calories, but our metabolism slows down almost instantly when we stop. On the other hand, after strength training, we burn fat for hours. “Regular weight lifting can boost our metabolic rate by 15% and IÂ recommend that a good 45-60 minute workout, 3 times a week should be just about right for most people.
Also, combination workouts help us eat less. American and South African researchers discovered that people who combined aerobics and weight training for 16 weeks curbed their intake of calories, carbs, proteins, and fats. The aerobics only group reduced only their fat consumption and the weight only group saw no reductions. The researchers think that combo workouts alter metabolism in a way that makes you feel full sooner.
When doing weight training what size weight and how many reps do you recommend or am I lost?
Let me give you a little hint -If normal everyday activities like going up or down the stairs, carrying bags of groceries, gardening, or picking up heavy objects tires us out, it might be an indication that our muscles may not be getting the workout they need. Women who lose strength steadily beginning in their 30’s often train with weights that are too light to maintain muscle, a study in sports medicine and exercise science suggests. So, you should not push yourself like an Olympic bodybuilder. If you want to stay strong as you age, do 2 to 3 sets of strength training exercises with weights that are heavy enough to tire out your muscles after 8-12 repetitions and slowly increase the weights as needed.
How much cardio should be in the mix and what type?
Cardio exercise can relieve depression, anxiety and stress. A 30 minute walk may make you feel better when you are ‘down in the dumps’, University of Texas researcher found. Try to do a cardio exercise of some type for 90 minutes -5 times a week and you’ll get the biggest boost. According to a new study from Temple University, one possible explanation is: Walking (cardio exercise) helps the body produce endorphins, the mood-boosting chemicals linked to “runner’s high”. Now, if you really feel aggressive, try riding a bike, either a road or mountain bike. I like the mountain bike better because you don’t have to compete with 3,500 pound cars!
What do you consider a “˜comprehensive program of strength and cardio in just a few sentences?
You are asking the wrong person because I personally like to experience all kinds of different exercises. Obviously you can get down on the floor and do sit-ups, pushups and stretching exercises and accomplish a lot with virtually no expense. You can then walk 3-5 miles in an hour or use a stair-master or treadmill. I actually tried riding a mountain bike recently with a friend, and I found out that it was harder than I first thought, although it got me out in nature which is where I love to be. Keep a few light-weight barbells around the house and use them daily. That ought to do it, BUT don’t over do it!
How does your eating regimen play into the above mentioned program as far as energy and calories?
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I like to have a high protein energy breakfast. I suggest you skip the cereals and muffins loaded with sugar. The sugars in these items are easily digested, which means they speed through your system providing virtually no value and much more harm than good. “An egg white omelet is a good choice says Louis Aronne, MD., Director of the Weight Control Program at New York Presbyterian Hospital in New York City. Another very good choice for me, which I hardly change, is the combination of 2 tablespoons (level) of raw/unsalted (better yet organic) almond butter with raw/organic honey for sweetening, slicing or smashing one banana in it and sprinkling a generous amount of cinnamon on it. Banana is very high in potassium which seems to be low in over- weight people. So by raising their potassium level they are actually lowering their sodium level as well. Besides, it really tastes good!
Do you have suggestions for the type of food one should eat just prior to a work out?
Actually no, but I normally grab an apple or a banana or a few almonds and you’d be surprised how much energy it gives you for an hour or so workout. Remember, your body burns the sugar it stores in your muscles first, so it makes sense to force the body to store more sugar in your muscles rather than your fatty tissue areas. It gets used quicker. It’s like having a full tank of gas or stopping at the station every 20 minutes.
What about the intake of water before during and after?
You know my take on that subject. You can never get enough. I passed along an email recently regarding the hot weather. Drink a bottle or so of water 20-30 minutes prior to your workout and then keep drinking throughout. The secret is no secret. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
From the Heart, Maggie