Strength Training for Apperance….And Health ?

May 2, 2011 § Leave a comment

Proponents of cardiovascular exercise often claim that cardio is the superior type of exercise to improve health.  It is widely believed that cardio exercise improves circulatory system to a large degree, and thus overall health.

Strength training on the other hand is unfairly viewed as a narcissistic activity suitable for meat-head and bodybuilders.  Sure strength training makes you look great, but benefits stretch past aesthetics.  In fact, strength training may be more effective than cardiovascular training in terms of health and wellness.

One of the most disturbing trends in America is the prevalence and development of the metabolic syndrome.  Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions — increased blood pressure, elevated insulin levels, excess body fat around the waist or abnormal cholesterol levels — that occur together, increasing your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

Obviously, prevention of this syndrome is a necessity.

Resistance training has a clinically and statistically significant effect on metabolic syndrome risk factors such as obesity, HbA(1c) levels and systolic blood pressure, and therefore should be recommended in the management of type 2 diabetes and metabolic disorders. (1)

One’s body composition can accurately predict future and immediate health. Body composition analysis is one of the best indicators of overall health as determined by a person’s percentage of fat and lean tissue. (2)

Recent findings  also demonstrate that RT (resistance training) may be an effective alternative to improve body composition and maintain reduced fat mass in obese patients after exercise training or energy intake restriction. Furthermore, it has been shown that RT preferentially mobilizes the visceral and subcutaneous adipose tissue in the abdominal region.

Resistance training  is considered a potential adjunct in the treatment of metabolic disorders by decreasing known major risk factors for metabolic syndromes.

Besides being an eye sore, why is visceral fat extremely harmful ?

Visceral fat is more dangerous than subcutaneous fat because it often surrounds vital organs. The more visceral fat one has, the greater is the chance of developing Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Strength training hits another home run here.

Further, strength training is an effective means to prevent insulin resistance.  Insulin resistance has the potential to create type II diabetes. Type II diabetes prevalence has doubled in the last decade.  Strength training is an effective preventative measure against insulin resistance and diabetes. (3)

Although the effects of strength training on blood pressure have been studied less than cardiovascular exercise, recent evidence looks good.  It was concluded that progressive resistance exercise is efficacious for reducing resting systolic and diastolic blood pressure in adults.

Again, strength training is flexing its muscle here.

Findings suggest that resistance training has a favorable effect on lipid profile and body fat percentage in healthy, sedentary, premenopausal women.

In summary, recent evidence suggests that strength training is as effective or more effective than frequently prescribed aerobic exercise in terms of prevention of metabolic syndrome and maintenance of proper body composition.

Brad Gatens, CSCS

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1. Resistance training in the treatment of the metabolic syndrome: a systematic review and meta-analysis of the effect of resistance training on metabolic clustering in patients with abnormal glucose metabolism.
Barbara Strasser, Uwe Siebert, and Wolfgang Schobersberger
Sports Med. 2010 May 1; 40(5): 397–415.


3. Dynamic Strength Training Improves Insulin Sensitivity without Altering Plasma Levels and Gene Expression of Adipokines in Subcutaneous Adipose Tissue in Obese Men. E. Klimcakova, J. Polak, C. Moro, J. Hejnova, M. Majercik, N. Viguerie, M. Berlan, D. Langin and V. Stich


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