I like to reference training as a deposit into longevity. More so, functional longevity that maintains our natural bodily movement into old age if/when we are so blessed. I mean, we all want to maintain the decency of using the bathroom without calling for help, no?
Our bodies do not operate in an isolation fashion. Case in point, when you bend down to pick or lift something, your entire body functions as a team. As we age, we experience an involuntary loss of muscle mass, strength and function. Bones become more brittle.
But then what do we find in most commercial gyms?
Most people generally train their muscles separately, working on one muscle group at a time.
Now, think of your body as a football team. With each muscle group representing a player on the team. Now imagine if every member of the team trained by themselves with all the players meeting at a game. That would be an ultimate disaster, would it not? For the players to work in synergy, they need to frequently train together. At times, certain team functions, e.g. defenders, may train their specialty, but this function must gel with the rest of the team positions or it just may be pretty useless for the team performance. The same case applies to our bodies.
With this in mind, let’s look at training combination.
Is it practically possible to train both endurance and strength in a sustainable manner?
The answer is YES. Moreover, there is a spread of variations you could apply.
As part of your training program, you could for instance choose to have intermittent cardio and strength days. You could also have your cardio sessions as the warm-up or segment of your workout. There is also the alternative to infuse cardio and strength pieces as part of your workout for the day. For an athlete who applies training blocks as their preferred method, it is possible to successfully cycle between strength and fitness blocks. All these methods are perfectly ok and are guided by the athlete’s goal.
Combination training is beneficial in ensuring you do not lose out on any physiological adaptations and health benefits as most of the benefits of aerobic and anaerobic exercise are present in a combined training program. Engaging in an aerobic program will give you multiple cardiovascular, muscular physiologic, and calorie-burning benefits. Adding an anaerobic training regimen will also give you gains in fat-free mass, higher basal metabolic rate, increased bone mineral density, and improved endocrine secretion of hormones.
For combination training to be sustainable, it requires planning. Too much of one thing, or even all things may lead you to burn out. You do not have to leave the gym sore and achy. If you are always in pain, chances are you’ll quit along the way. For athletes, the specificity of training indicates doing activities that are as close to their competitive sport as possible. For health-seeking adults (the vast majority of us), the means are just as important as the ends. Fitness goals might be as generic as toned muscles, an efficient cardiovascular system, or even improved bone-mineral density. The program should be tailored to the goals.
Image courtesy: blog.trainerday.com
By Wagio Kariuki
MSA Physical Training Consultant