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Where are you running to girls?

It seems that blogging comes more naturally to some and is like pulling teeth for others. Admittedly trying to follow up after some of Dave’s and Gaz’s posts is a bit like being Vanilla Ice in the mid eighties, ambitious but ultimately doomed because you are white and can’t rap (and yeah that is the best simile I could come up with at seven this morning).  However, I have found that blogging is much easier when you have a bee in your bonnet. That bee is women and the treadmill.
Here is the common misconception:
“Weights make you more muscular and are therefore for men only; cardio makes you thin and is therefore for women only.” 
Yes there are plenty of people out there that are thin and only do cardio. But does thin and under muscled equal a good physique? If you are a 20 stone behemoth then being anything less than 20 stone is going to be appealing. Steady state cardio will help said behemoth lose weight at the beginning of their fitness odyssey. However, when you get down to the nuts and bolts of what many women, who aren’t severely over weight, say their goals are (muscle tone, lean, tight bum etc), the body achieved by hours of steady state cardio does not even come close to those goals.  How do I know this? Well I read a lot more than I blog, I’ve seen countless victims with my own eyes and I also ask a lot questions to the people that do have well toned physiques.
In the interest of fairness I would like to state now that there are plenty of men in gymland that are doing the very same thing and this problem is not exclusively female.  With P.C covered and the threat of suffragette sting raid moved to a mere Defcon 1 I’ll continue.  Many of the ideas against being a treadmill warrior are supported by the article referenced below. The man who wrote it is far more qualified than me and these were his motives:
  1. Women are often intensely recruited for fund-raisers like Team-In-Training, lured by the promise of slim, trim health resulting from the month of cardio training leading to a marathon in addition to helping the charity in question.
  2. Some physique coaches prescribe 20-plus hours per week of pre-contest cardio for women (that’s a part-time job).
  3. Steady-state endurance activities like this devastate a woman’s metabolism. It will devastate a man’s too, but in different ways.
The article also gives a lot of attention to certain hormones and the roles they have on fat regulation, notably the thyroid hormone T3.  Collective ears just pricked up because most people have heard about weight control by the thyroid, hell some of you have probably used it as an excuse for your weight gain.  My point is that there is plenty to geek out on in the article by Jon Kiefer, but I’m going try and keep it simple.
Your body is designed for one thing, survival.  Our social and cultural interactions are mechanisms from which we can better survive long enough to procreate.  If all that was taken away however and you were one of the last beings on this rock then your body has other processes in order to help you survive long enough to find a mate.  The problem lies in the fact that your body can’t recognise that you aren’t living in a time of Armageddon and so these processes and interactions exist in tandem.  If you are running all the time your body will learn to compensate in order to conserve energy stores. If you are running all the time you are also probably someone that restricts their calorie intake “so that you don’t gain more body fat”. Your body is now in a position where it has no idea when the next meal coming from and therefore will slow metabolism to make fat stores last for longer and hence survive longer.  In order to survive the way you are exercising your cells become more efficient at using less energy for the same exercise output.
I knew the Beatles didn’t have genuine originality claim to that Abbey Road  photo.
Nothing exemplifies this increasing efficiency better than how the body starts burning fuel. Training at a consistently plus-65 percent heart rate adapts the body to save as much body fat as possible. That’s right, after regular training, fat cells stop releasing fat during moderate-intensity activities like they once did. Energy from body fat stores decreases by a whopping 30 percent.  What happened to the fat burning zone I hear you ask?  Well somebody interpreted that graph and data wrong, accept it move on. In addition to this, excessive steady state cardio actually breaks down existing muscle and decreases bone density, by increasing hormones like cortisol and myostatin.  Both these ailments women are told to avoid because of diseases like osteoporosis that occur in later life. If you don’t believe me, just watch the London marathon in April this year and watch the top level guys and girls. Skin and bones the lot of them.  That’s great for them because they are running world record times, you aren’t and neither are you a marathon runner, so stop training like one. In any case Paula Radcliff for example uses strength training in order to provide efficient force production and to keep her bones nice and strong.
Paula will run a marathon faster than our treadmills will go. You can’t.
There are better ways of getting in shape.  They are very simple, but not necessarily easy.  Those of you that have already converted to our way of thinking know what’s coming here: perform resistance exercise and manage your food properly.  Two things, that’s it.  The key is to do it consistently over a long period of time, but that’s ok because some of you are already dedicating an enormous amount of your free time to running.  Change the point of attack with that same dedication and watch your body change.  Oh and girls, don’t worry about getting huge, just like the fat burning zone rumour the notion that women get muscular to the same extent when doing weights as men is mere myth.  Again much of the physical responses to exercise are determined by hormones and women just don’t have the same amounts of the major hormones, like testosterone, that contribute to muscle development.  There is already a great article on the blog about getting lean without cardio and I would highly recommend that you read it immediately following this one.  ‘Get lean [like a boss]’ gives you all the evidence along with strategy for fat loss without doing low intensity cardio.
Allison Stokke.There are some pole activities your dad will be happy about.
Conclusion
You have been warned.  Long steady state cardio is not going to achieve a body with a well toned derriere, shapely arms and flat stomach.  It will however slow your metabolism down and bore you to the point that you either want to shoot yourself or just do what most people do and just give up.  By all means go for that Sunday morning run with a friend and talk the whole way round the route, but admit it’s recreational and understand that there is more work to be done.  If you want to test all this new information your friendly Dave’s Gym staff will happily write you a new program and the rest is down to you.  
Alsson again just to nail it home.  This body is not an accident.
John Kiefer
Yours in iron,
Matt
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