What Kind of Exercise?

In part 3 of our "Athletes of Aging" series we learned that exercise truly is the best medicine.

Do you remember why?

  • Exercise is rarely contraindicated. Almost everyone can do some form of exercise
  • Side effects? If you are training smart and with injury prevention in mind, some soreness from time to time is about it.
  • Exercise goes to the root cause, not merely covers symptoms.
  • And insurance can't tell you "no, you can't have that".

But what kind of exercise should we be doing?

First let's take a look at what a comprehensive exercise program should be trying to accomplish. Our exercise program should have a positive health effect on all the systems of the body we have discussed in prior articles:






There are also the specific physical qualities we are trying to influence with our exercise program:





Flexibility (to include mobility & stability/balance)

Body Composition

And there are various different types of exercise, or exercise modalities we can use to accomplish our health, performance and proactive aging goals, broadly categorized as:

Strength (Progressive Resistance) Training

LSD (Long Slow Distance) Training

HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)

or various combinations of those.

If you like biking, running, or swimming, you are going to gravitate toward LSD. If you prefer more time efficiency and are more of a sprinter than jogger, HIIT will probably be your preference. Either are a very positive step in the right direction. However neither one of those is complete enough, by themselves, to check off all the boxes of a well designed training program that affects all health systems AND addresses all the physical qualities. In fact Strength Training is the only one of the three which in isolation can influence the entire spectrum, even endurance (albeit to a lesser degree).

The real magic comes when combine strength training with either LSD or HIIT, with Strength Training and HIIT having the advantage when it comes to the time factor, which is huge for most of us. 

For those of you endurance junkies, it is also wise to consider this; 99.9% of you, by the time you are in your sixties and seventies, will just not be able to run 10 or more miles anymore. In fact it is likely even a 5k will be out of reach. But you will still need muscle, healthy bones, balance, mobility and yes, a measure of endurance. You don't want to be the one who falls and can't get up, and all those things will matter in accomplishing a task your probably take for granted now. 

It is no accident that when we design training programs here at Cr8 Fitness we focus on the exercise modalities that are the most comprehensive and are also time efficient. It's why we incorporate Strength (progressive resistance) Training and Metabolic Resistance Training (HIIT) into our Program design.

I use the words Training and Program very purposefully. Exercise and Training are not the same thing. Any type of activity that gets you up and moving can be considered a form of exercise; push mowing the grass, playing golf, walking the dog (or cat, if that's your thing). But Training is a whole different animal, (a unicorn maybe?)

Training uses specific types of exercise and manipulates variables (load, speed of movement, rest periods, to name a very few) as part of a long-term effort to improve one or more of the physical qualities.

The program is that long-term effort designed in a way to deliver the training exercises at the right dose at the right times, in order to elicit a positive response as measured by improvements in the physical qualities.

"Going To The Gym" and a "Training Program" are not necessarily, and not usually, the same thing. Good program design is rarer still. The necessity of good program design is why I am not a fan of gyms that offer a "pick and choose" menu of classes that you can drop in and out of at any time. Exercise - yes. Training - not likely. I'm too old to waste my time and effort in the gym on things that are less than optimal at best, and downright harmful at their worst. Injury in the gym may be unavoidable, but it better be rare, and it better not be happening by doing stupid stuff. Life is too short, I'd rather do what works, not just the latest craze.

And when it comes to that, Strength Training is King and Queen, which is why Strength Training rules! 🙂

Get Strong. Stay Strong. Live Strong.

See you next time,

Coach Dean

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