The Superior Benefits of High Intensity Strength Training
Posted December 28, 2018 by Matthew Romans
The holidays are coming to a close and January is right around the corner. That means that we will be inundated with New Year's resolutions, commercials advertising gym membership specials and fitness equipment, and the latest miracle diet. Don't be fooled by clever advertising; most of this is simply fool's gold. In spite of what the fitness gurus tell you, no other form of exercise or activity can come close to stimulating the benefits you get from high intensity strength training. This is well-documented. Dr. Doug McGuff, emergency room physician and author of "Body by Science", and the late Arthur Jones (founder of Nautilus and Med-X exercise machines) have written extensively on this subject. Let's examine what high intensity strength training can do that is superior to other forms of activity.
Improves bone mineral density.
Osteoporosis is the gradual weakening of bones as we age. This can lead to fractures and falls, particularly in the elderly. Regular high intensity strength training encourages bone remodeling, and the increased muscle surrounding the bones provides greater cushion and protection. Conventional strength training doesn't inroad the musculature significantly enough to influence bone growth, and steady state activity can weaken bones even further. High intensity strength training also doesn't have the negative side effects associated with Osteoporosis medications that are often prescribed.
Maintains insulin sensitivity.
Insulin is the hormone secreted by the pancreas that regulates glucose levels in the blood. Glycogen is the stored form of glucose (your primary source for intense activity) found in the muscle cells and the liver. By regularly performing high intensity strength training, you deplete your glycogen stores and maintain insulin sensitivity. This minimizes your risk of developing metabolic syndrome and Type II Diabetes. No other form of exercise or activity is intense enough to deplete your glycogen stores.
Decreases lower back pain.
Lower back pain has been cited as the leading cause for missed days of work. Arthur Jones (mentioned above) performed years of extensive research and testing on the benefits of high intensity strength training for lower back injuries. By working to strengthen the muscles surrounding the spine, many back conditions, such as impingement, stenosis, and herniated discs are greatly improved or reversed. The equipment that we have at Total Results addresses these needs perfectly. Traditional low back exercises do not properly immobilize the pelvis and legs so that the spinal erector muscles can be properly stimulated, and conventional exercise protocols are too high-force in nature, thus increasing the risk for injury to the spine.
Improves venous return/cardiovascular conditioning.
The primary function of the cardiovascular system is to transport nutrients to the working muscles and remove waste products from them. This happens to a degree in traditional steady-state activity, but the effect is much greater in high intensity strength training, due to the greater demand placed upon the skeletal muscles. To paraphrase Arthur Jones, no other activity is even a close second. High intensity strength training is also the best way to improve venous return, which is the return of blood back to the right side of the heart. This is an "opening of the highway", so to speak. The intense contraction of the muscles actually forcibly pushes the blood back to the heart. This simply cannot be accomplished with either traditional strength training or steady state activity.
Helps you to use fat as your primary energy source.
This is certainly important for those with a goal of fat loss. Building muscle mass increases your basal metabolic rate, your body burns calories at a higher rate. That's not even the best part. Fat is mobilized when epinephrine stimulates the release of a substance called lipase, which is hormone-sensitive. This can only happen following a high-intensity workout; it can't happen in traditional strength training or steady state activity.
Increases gastrointestinal transit time.
According to Dr. McGuff, "slow gastrointestinal transit time has been associated with a higher risk of colon cancer." Research has shown that just three months of high intensity strength training can increase gastrointestinal time by nearly 60 percent. If your digestive system functions more efficiently, your risk of colon cancer can decrease significantly. The exercise must be intense enough to use up all of your muscles' momentary capability, therefore traditional steady state activity and regular strength training fall short.
These are just six of the benefits that are exclusive to high intensity strength training; there are several more that I didn't mention. The amazing thing about it is that you can reap all of these benefits (and more) in just one or two 20 minute workouts per week. At Total Results, we have the ideal combination of knowledge, equipment, instruction, and exercise environment to help you maximize your potential. Get started today!