I was recently rereading some stuff in the book "Bulletproof Knees" (highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in learning how to develop optimal knee health) which is written by my friend and mentor Mike Robertson and came across a couple of statements that I wanted to share. "Believe me, I'm really glad to see more and more people hitting the iron to get into shape; however, a lot of people don't understand how to design effective programs. Effective programs do a lot more than help you look great in a swimsuit! An effective training program not only helps you attain strength or physique goals, but also optimizes your alignment, recruits and strengthens the appropriate musculature, and keeps you healthy over the long-term."
This hits it out of the ballpark for me. Everyday I see a number of people who have no clue how to plan a proper program. The fact of the matter is that if some of the guys I see really want to increase their bench press that they do everytime they step foot in the gym, they would spend more time developing and strengthening their upper backs instead of adding to their anterior dominated shoulder postures and going nowhere by doing all variations of pressing three times a week. Pushing must be balanced with pulling, quad dominant movements must be balanced with hip dominant movements, and so forth. Too many people go to the gym clueless and neglect way too many areas of their bodies, ending up with imbalanced bodies, postural flaws, pain, and strength/performance hinderances. You owe it to yourself; get some help from someone who understands the way the body works and get stronger or improve your physique in a proper and healthy manner.
I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and have a great weekend!
I recently caught part of an episode of "The Biggest Loser" as I sometimes like to watch it to see what they have some of the contestants doing. Some of the things that are done on the show really annoy me. Don't get me wrong, I think its great that people are losing weight and getting into shape; but the fact that there are multiple contestants who end up with injuries and trips to the hospital should tell you something.
Anyways, on the episode I was watching, Jillian had a 300 plus pound obese woman trying to perform a box jump. A box jump is an explosive plyometric movement in which you jump from the ground up to a higher box and land. It is an exercise that is often used with athletes to develop explosive jumping power. If you look at older literature, it is stated that someone should be able to squat at least twice their bodyweight before doing any kind of plyometric work. While this number is in my opinion exagerrated, it is very important that someone has enough muscular strength to support their bodyweight when landing from something like a box jump. The reason behind this is the fact that plyometric movements such as jumping put TONS of stress on the body's joints. If someone doesn't have sufficient muscular strength to help absorb the force the landing of a box jump will put through their joints, then they are in trouble. Apparently, Jillian does not understand this concept because if she did, she wouldn't have a 300 plus pound obese women, who probably has trouble squatting her own bodyweight, try to jump onto a box. This lady could not get up to the box and she kept getting yelled at for it. The whole time this was going on, I was thinking that it was a good thing she didn't get up there because if she did, she might have injured herself in her hip, knee, etc. This lady should be focusing on building up her muscles and basic strength before ever doing something such as a box jump.
Like I said, I don't want to put anybody down and there are some good things done on the show, but I have seen too many ridiculous clueless things such as this that really make me cringe . Enough of my rant, I just want the average person to realize that things you see on tv like this and in the media aren't always proper or true practices in the real respectable fitness world. Find a qualified coach with experience, a degree, a respectable certification such as the CSCS, and get to work. Don't believe everything you see on TV or in the magazines because a lot of it will lead you nowhere good.
There seems to be a lot of confusion on this topic. There are some camps that say you should do cardio before lifting and some that say lift before doing cardio. You have to look at the goals you are trying to achieve. If you want to get stronger, build muscle, and perform better, you should lift before you do cardiovascular work. (Fat loss people: muscle is the most important part of the fat loss equation!!! Hint Hint) There are several reasons for this but I will outline some major ones.
When you do long duration cardio (e.g. 2 mile run) you put your body into a catabolic state, or a "breaking down muscle" state. To build strength and muscle, you want to be in an anabolic state, or a "muscle building" state. Your body releases specific hormones under each condition. If you run a few miles right before you lift, you are gonna kill your performance in the weight room because you will have the wrong hormones (e.g. cortisol vs. testosterone) flowing and your body will be in the wrong condition for what you are trying to do. Another major reason is the fact that you will use up most if not all of your energy stores (glycogen) before you ever step foot into the weight room. Yet another thing to look at is the fact that activity like distance running primarily recruits slow twitch motor units and muscle fibers whereas activity such as lifting or sprinting uses fast twitch motor units and muscle fibers a lot more. This will confuse your body and hurt your performance also.
Taking these things into consideration, if you want to get stronger and build muscle, why in the world would you want to kill your performance by going for a run before you lift? If you are an endurance athlete who runs long distances in competition, then your main focus is obviously going to be on the long duration activity. However, even then you still need to get some effective strength training in to keep your body strong and prevent injuries.
The best way to do things is to do long duration cardio on a separate day or at a separate time so the conflicts betwen the differing demands don't hurt you, and if your main goal is to get stronger and build muscle, you shouldn't do too much of it anyway as it can have negative effects on your weight room performance. An even better way to go is to get your lift in and then finish up with some intense conditioning such as sled dragging, circuits, sprints, etc. as these forms of cardiovascular work help performance and fat loss better than long duration, boring cardio anyway(see earlier posts or articles section for more on this).
In conclusion, lift first and finish with some intense conditioning; perform long duration aerobic work at a separate time. If you must do them both around the same time, lift before you run, bike, etc. as lifting won't hurt the others as much as they will hurt lifting.
If anybody has any thoughts on the topic, I would love to hear them.