Vail Daily column: Stop the steady state cardio | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily column: Stop the steady state cardio

Jimmy Pritchard

The modern gym is prized for convenience over functionality.

Ease of entry for the average fitness consumer is paramount to drive memberships. Most clubs are outfitted with ellipticals, bikes, treadmills, rowers, versa climbers and stair climbers; it's an expectation most people have when considering joining a fitness club.

Each machine is now equipped with a TV, internet access and heart rate monitors. Typically, trainees will march along, sweat a few bullets and consider the latest headline news. These trainees are punching the clock; they're getting a workout in, but are they really getting the results they're after?

Simply put, they have achieved the goal of calorie expenditure. However, in what way did they improve their strength, mobility or readiness for activity? Will steady state aerobic exercise cause a change in your physical look? There is nothing necessarily wrong with steady state aerobic exercise, but this type of activity is a poor choice for developing authentic fitness.

Many fitness consumers thoroughly enjoy steady state aerobic training with the use of gym equipment. Even though aerobic fitness is a worthy quality to possess, it's too common that people feel the need to pursue this quality while exercising at a gym.

Get outside

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Aerobic fitness is paramount for biking, skiing, running and hiking. However, the best way to get into shape for your activity is to actually get out and perform that activity! If you love running so much, then get out and do it! By the way, aren't you bored sitting on that machine for an hour inside of the gym? Go outside and run. Our mountain landscape deserves the attention.

As a fitness professional, it is essential that I promote movement competency, resistance training and skill development. Aerobic training is important, but it should never become the center of attention in your exercise program.

Keep it simple

Resistance training improves strength, builds muscle, increases bone density and is more effective for stimulating fat loss than conventional aerobic training. Generally speaking, resistance training will yield better results for body composition changes and for achieving the quintessential athletic look.

Also, it doesn't need to be complicated. A well designed program from a skilled coach that includes goals and incremental increases in weight lifted is all that you need. Most importantly, a skilled coach will always target your weaknesses — a necessity for anyone who is serious about making lasting changes.

Remember this important message: Resistance training will not effectively cause an increase in muscle size; a scary notion for those who intend to lean out.

Often, trainees who intend to lose weight will starve themselves and perform endless amounts of aerobic training; this will develop a smaller version of their former self. Please avoid this trap. You will not magically "bulk up" from lifting weights. Instead, you will find that it's easier to lose weight following a resistance training program, while retaining muscle mass.

Please take my advice, resistance training will not magically cause an increase in "bulk"; doughnuts and pizza will, and not in a good way.

Don't fear resistance

The benefits of resistance training are overwhelming. Energy level increases are caused from reducing the oxidative stress associated with chronic aerobic training. Increasing strength levels are solely responsible for improving the efficiency of daily living. After all, the stronger you are, the easier it is to navigate the mundane tasks of life — carrying groceries and moving up and down the stairs becomes much easier. Finally, you will look fantastic! Do you want to look like an emaciated marathon runner or an athletic sprinter?

Do not fear resistance training, and step out of your comfort zone if you are trapped in the conventional wisdom. You cannot develop true, well-rounded fitness through aerobic training alone. Resistance training can, and will help you make the changes you desire whether it's performance, strength or aesthetics. Have a great week!

Jimmy Pritchard has a B.S. from Colorado Mesa University and is a certified strength and conditioning specialist through the National Strength and Conditioning Association. He is a personal trainer at the Sonnenalp Club and is a fitness professional at ryanrichards.com. Pritchard's passion is to help others meet, and often exceed their goals in all areas of fitness. Contact him at 970-401-0720.