It is easy to become stagnant in your training. No matter your goals, there are pros and cons to everything you do inside or outside of the gym. I want to do my best today to give you some basic science to different styles and variations in training. Let’s look mainly at heart health, as this topic could go on for hours, and I am not that entertaining of a writer.
Resistance Training for Heart Health.
Resistance training when it comes to heart health is often misunderstood. Lifting and heavy lifting can do an amazing job in helping reduce cardiovascular disease. Too often, people assume that heart health is only about cardio, and we will get into these benefits later, but it is important to understand how resistance training can also aid in cardiovascular fitness.
The science on this topic is pretty clear. We know that when one does resistance training, the left ventricle will become thicker and stronger. This means that the heart has the ability to pump harder. However, with any benefit, there is also a down side. As the ventricle becomes stronger, it does not necessarily hold more blood. This means that in strong individuals, the heart has the ability to pump more blood by emptying the left ventricle with a more powerful contraction. This results in increased stroke volume. With stroke volume being the amount of blood pumped form the left ventricle per beat.
In addition to the increase in stroke volume, resistance training can increase blood pressure to extreme levels. This may sound like a bad thing, yet in an acute sense this is a great thing. Squatting tends to show the greatest increase in blood pressure, with numbers over 300/200. This is great news for these vessels that are under this extreme acute load because it allows adaptation in many ways. Firstly, it can make the vessels more pliable. And secondly, it can help clean these vessels of the junk that creates issues. Yes, I know that last sentence was very scientific. Just trust me it’s good.
Cardio/Conditioning for Heart Health.
I am sure everyone has heard how this is important. Heart health and cardio are linked together like peanut butter and jelly. Kenneth Cooper wrote the book, “Aerobics” in 1968 and since then, the answer to all things heart related is Cardio workouts. While this book makes some great points, it is still from its time and is a bit solipsistic. What should be taken from the book is that cardio is rarely a bad thing to do. But what type?
HIIT or High Intensity Interval Training is great to stress the heart. I believe that everyone should stress their heart intensely once or twice a week. This type of training is similar in its adaptations to resistance training. While HITT is great, it can be overdone and does create a lot more stress for all parts of the body.
LSD or Long Slow Distance training has been referred to as Zone 2 training. In simple terms, this is keeping your heart rate at a controlled pace for longer durations. With this tyoe of training, you can track it based on heart rate (try to stay under 140) or just try to have a conversation during exercise. For example, if you can’t talk then it’s too fast, and you should slow down.
The biggest adaptation from LSD training is an increase in stroke volume due to an increase in volume that the left ventricle can hold. This is where stretching of the left ventricle occurs to make more room for blood. This will add to stroke volume, and if you do this in conjunction with increasing the strength of the left ventricle, then you will be a blood pumping machine.
LSD training can be done with walking, biking, hiking, jogging, or an any machine. Again, the key is to just keep the heart rate elevated for 20-60 minutes and you’ll reap the benefits.
After all of that, I’ll finish with this basic set up to your cardiac output training. Do LSD training 2-3 days a week for 30-60 minutes. Do your strength training 3 days a week for an hour. Lastly, add some HIIT training in 2 days a week, with focusing on just getting that heart rate over or at 90-%.