Strength Training vs. Aerobic Activity…Let the Battle Begin

Balancing aerobic and strength exercise in your fitness routine.

When it comes to deciding how to spend our precious workout time it is important to choose something we love to do.  I love swimming.  I would rather swim than just about any other type of physical activity.

When I was in my twenties, swimming was about all I did on a regular basis to maintain my fitness.  I was surprised as I got older to find that despite swimming several times a week, I wasn’t maintaining the body shape and strength that I wanted.  I was also experiencing injuries on a more regular basis.  That is when I learned the value of balancing aerobic and strength training in my fitness routine.

Whether you love swimming, running, dancing, or are more the type to spend hours lifting weights, it is important to try and balance your strength training and aerobic exercise to maintain your overall best fitness.  Finding a healthy balance between aerobic and strength training exercise is an important part of maintaining your overall fitness.

Here are some guidelines published by NHS Choices for deciding how much strength vs. how much aerobic exercise to work into your workout.

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Guidelines for adults aged 19-64

To stay healthy, adults aged 19-64 should try to be active daily and should do:

  • at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity such as cycling or fast walking every week, and
  • strength exercises on two or more days a week that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms).
  • 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, such as running or a game of singles tennis every week, and
  • strength exercises on two or more days a week that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms).
  • A mix of moderate and vigorous aerobic activity every week. For example, two 30-minute runs plus 30 minutes of fast walking equates to 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, and
  • strength exercises on two or more days a week that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms).

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You can do activities that strengthen your muscles on the same day or on different days as your aerobic activity – whatever’s best for you. However, for best results, alternating days allows you to pore more energy into each workout, yielding better results, high intensity interval training style.

EDITORS NOTE: We’re sharing this great information from NHS.uk, however, their next statement contains some misinformation:
“Muscle-strengthening exercises are not an aerobic activity, so you’ll need to do them in addition to your 150 minutes of aerobic activity.”

Anyone who engages in strength and resistance training, knows this is absolutely not true. Try going through 10-15 repetitions times 3 sets of squats with light, medium to heavy dumbbells and see how quickly your heart rate increases to aerobic capacity. Something to try:

AEROBIC SQUAT CHALLENGE — Do just one set (1 x through each of these):

20 squats – no weights (now you will already be warmed up)
20 squats – light weights (shake your legs out walk around for 30 seconds)
15 squats – medium weights (shake your legs out and walk around for a minute)
10 squats – heavy weights (you heart rate will be at an aerobic level, in fact, you will likely have had to stop to rest a time or two).

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Guidance on Weights: The “light”, “medium” and “heavy” is whatever weight you’re able to do that number of repetitions without rest, or with a rest or two before completing the reps or set.
Back to Amy Hammond: I found that adding a regular strength routine has worked wonders in helping me maintain my preferred weight, prevent injuries, and even become a stronger swimmer.  It can sometimes be a battle for me to choose strength training over a nice long swim, but I have learned that letting strength training win a couple times a week has made me a more well-balanced person.  If you are like me and not overly familiar with or comfortable at the gym, check out My Gym Trainer 1  from www.mytrainerfitness.com to help get you started.

 

RESOURCES

NHS Choices

 

Article by Amy Hammond

Amy-100I am a writer, collegiate instructor, photographer, wife and mother.  I know how busy life can be but I try to balance my time between work and play (with and without my kiddos).  I am an avid swimmer and a believer in staying fit to have fun.  When we are our own best self, then all aspects of our lives are more enjoyable.