People often ask if it matters which order of exercise is better—weights or cardio—in a training session. Which combination uses the most calories? A new study shows that for recreational individuals, the exercise order doesn't make a difference. A typical training session should include both aerobic and strength exercises, and is typically done in an hour: 30 minutes of aerobics and 30 minutes of strength exercises. Both result in more oxygen consumed. Running first or weight training first, both give the same benefits of exercise—increased post-exercise oxygen consumption, better blood levels profiles and a healthier heart.
The study followed exercise prescription protocols from the American College of Sports Medicine and of The National Strength and Conditioning Association, in that desired intensities were met. The exercise time was performed in the "somewhat hard" zone, which translates to about 70 percent of your heart rate maximum. The strength exercises preformed were five exercises, with three sets of 10 repetitions.
However, the order is different for very specific types of power or aerobic endurance performance. An elite ski racer, for example, would emphasize leg power before first tiring out his or her legs with a run. Glycogen depletion (carbohydrates stored in the liver and muscles), inflammation and protein breakdown need to be taken into consideration for these athletes.
Skiing and strength training benefit teenage bone mass
Alpine skiing and strength training help teenagers develop good bones, particularly in the back and hips. It used to be thought that youth strength training resulted in bone growth plate damage, stunted growth or musculoskeletal injury, yet these claims are unfounded. Well-designed and well-supervised exercise programs have the opposite effect, in that this is the time when bone growth best responds to the mechanical loads imposed by exercise. In a recent two-year study, published in the October 2011 Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 13- to 16-year-old alpine skiers all improved their bone mass, jumping ability and strength and power of the legs.
Over the two years, the skiers performed squats, flexing until the thighs went beyond being parallel to the floor with a bar over their shoulders, jumps with no extra loads, curl-ups, stretching and balance training. They wouldn't train, however, on the days they spent training on the hill.
The growth spurt was significant over the two years with no differences in height and weight between the skiers and their sedentary counterparts. The change between muscular and fat mass, however, was very different in the boy skiers and sedentary group: 1.9 percent compared to 13.2 percent. The girl skiers only showed a non-significant increase. In the upper spine, the boy skiers increased bone mass of L2-L5 five times the amount of bone mass compared to the sedentary groups, and the girls, twice that. The results show that 13- to 16-year-olds can combine jumping and strength training with moderate loads and ski, without posing any special risk to physical development. Recently, the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology published a position paper saying there is no minimum age requirement for youth to participate in a properly designed program, suggesting age 7 or 8 as a general guideline.
Connie Aronson is a health and fitness specialist at the YMCA in Ketchum.