The dead lift is THE most important lift in the gym in my opinion. Its a compound, multi-joint, multi-muscle movement, incorporating the largest muscles in your body: the hamstrings, glutes, core, traps, and shoulders. Because it involves so much muscle mass there is a tremendous caloric expenditure both during the exercise,and recovery, making it excellent for weight loss. Additionally, multi-muscle activation under heavy loads can elicit significant blood testosterone levels, again facilitating lean muscle development. The dead lift is an excellent functional movement, reinforcing proper technique for lifting heavy objects. Incorporate the dead lift into your routine if you want to maintain a health back, flat, strong core, and lean physique.
I feel machines serve a better purpose attracting members to gyms, but do little for their training. Statistically, more people are injured each year exercising on machines than with free weights. Machines often limit or force a one size fits all range of motion on the user. They also tend to isolate muscles or joint actions that perform better with mutlimuscle multijoint movements. A functional approach to training would involve working the body as one, while mimicking real life, or athletic movement; training movements, not muscles. The exerciser would be better off learning the squat pattern, for example, a fundamental movement, than isolating the various parts of that pattern via a hip abduction/adduction or a knee flexion/extension machine. As the gym culture mentality shifts, you ll be begin to see less gyms full of expensive cardio and resistance machines, and more open space full of free weight and other functional resistance equipment. Next time you re in the gym, take a look at what members are doing with their trainers. Take a look to your left and right, if a trained fitness professional does not have a client on the elliptical next to you, maybe you should be over by the kettllebell rack doing cardio too!! :) Take a look at this article on the oxygen cost of kettlebell swings. Theres alot of science - exercise physiology behind it, but to suffice to say, kettlebells provide a useful conditioning tool for fitness professionals. Performing a two handed kettlebell swings can improve the cardiorespiratory fitness of athletes and amateurs. However, fitness professionals should be aware that HRs achieved during continuous kettlebell exercise are significantly higher than the corresponding exercise V_ O2 demand. This explains, why your heart spikes during compound resistance training movments, but does not always have an aerobic benefit. Furthermore, the relationship between the 2 variables is greater than that noted for circuit weight training but less than that for treadmill exercise. Check out fellow New York City personal trainer, Tom Weaver, performing a Kettlebell swing.
Theres a common misconception that cardio is a more effective fat loss tool than resistance training. This could not be further from the truth. The jogging boom of the 80s and a misinformed media would lead you to believe you need to work your "fat burning zone" to lose fat. Not to mention when you walk into your local health club there are more cardio machines than free weights. Unfortunately, those machines are there because that is what you are looking for when you buy your membership. Next time you are doing cardio, take a break from the magazine or television program you are viewing and look at the gym floor. Who looks better, the people doing cardio, or the people doing resistance exercises? I know that's a very anecdotal example, so let me elaborate with science based facts.
The hierarchy of fat loss is DIET, resistance training, high intensity interval training, and then cardio. All the training in the world will not get you to your goals if you don't have a sound diet. But lets talk about resistance training. Science has proven a significant metabolic increase for up to 48 hours after resistance workouts. Conversely, typical steady state cardio routines show no post workout energy consumption. Once you step off that treadmill, the caloric burn stops, and while you are on the treadmill you could be eating your metabolically active muscle tissue and decreasing your metabolism. After a resistance workout, your body works to repair the muscle tissue your broke down, burns calories to build it up, and requires even more calories to sustain your new lean mass! You have just increased your metabolism and are burning calories while you are at rest. So get your diet in check, add three full body resistance routines to your week and forget about cardio.
Check out my blog on Compound, Multi-muscle Calorie Burners and Tapping into Your Muscle Mass for more info on full body resistance training information. Alywn Cosgrove, THE fatloss guru, recently wrote a great follow up post to the Men's Health post The New Science of Fatloss on the myths of cardio training, how they originated, and why they are perpetuated. Check it out!
You don't need to go to a gym to get a good workout. In fact, you wouldn't need gyms at all if our means of living were more active. Many of us spend too much time sitting, and sedentary each day. Unfortunately, we no longer live in an agricultural based society. A recent Australian study of adults showed an 18% increase for heart disease and 11% increase in mortality for each daily hour of television watching. Many of us go from bed, to car, to desk chair, to couch. To break this vicious cycle, or just improve your current training, try some body weight movements. Resistance training doesn't have to include weights. And if you cant move your own body weight, you shouldn't be moving inanimate objects! Work on mastering these simple movements for 3 sets of 15 repetitions before progressing further. Body weight squats - full range of motion
Planks - front and side
Push Ups - variations include against a wall or on your knees
Pull Ups - there are inverted progressions using a low bar