Resistance and Cardiovascular Training Basics - Phase 1
fitness and well-being are contingent on many factors such as genetics,
physical activity, and nutrition. As of yet, manipulation of one’s genetic
makeup to encourage fat burning and lean tissue synthesis is not possible at
typical workout facilities. Fortunately, we can alter our physiques to some
extent by engaging in regular, effective physical activity, and making
intelligent food choices. The purpose of this article is to help introduce
the aspiring fitness buff to resistance training and cardiovascular exercise.
This article is directed to non-medical professionals; however, medical
explanations for the principles suggested are explained in small-type italic.
Other explanations are provided in other articles on our website.
discussing exercise, it is often helpful to divide physical activity into two
main categories based on how they create energy: anaerobic and aerobic.
Aerobic exercise refers to exercise in the presence of oxygen, whereas
anaerobic exercise occurs without oxygen present. This distinction is helpful
because fat is largely burned in the presence of oxygen, whereas
carbohydrates are largely the fuel of choice during anaerobic exercise1.
acids are not effectively utilized in anerobic condictions due to inbibition
of the pyruvate dehydrogenase complex. Specifically, acetyl-CoA is the
breakdown product of ß-oxidation, which is shuttled into the Citric Acid
Cycle to be combined with oxaloacetate and form citrate. If oxygen is not
present, then cytochrome C oxidase (in the electron transport chain) can not
be oxidized by oxygen. Thus, the electron transport chain shuts down,
resulting in a buildup of NADH (which is normally oxidized by NADH oxidase in
the ETC). The buildup of NADH subsequently inhibits the Citric Acid Cycle (which
produces NADH). This results in a buildup of Acetyl CoA, which will then shut
training is considered by most professionals to fall in the category of
anaerobic exercise, whereas activites such as jogging, light swimming, light
biking, and speed walking are considered aerobic. In order to obtain the most
benefit from your workout routine, it is best to participate in both
anaerobic and aerobic exericise.
weight lifting is anaerobic, it does have some potentially aerobic
properties. Specifically, if adequate rest periods between sets are taken, it
can encourage optimal oxygen utilization to synthesize pyruvate from lactic
acid produced during anaerobic fermentation. This process can prove to be
aerobic, but we will still consider weight training anaerobic.
AN EXERCISE PLAN
days, it seems as if the most difficult part of exercising is not the
physical labor itself, but actually finding a workout regimen that fits your
lifestyle and training goals. With all of the bizarre workout equipment and
dieting fads that are available today, it is often overwhelming for even the
seasoned athlete to decide how to exercise. This series will introduce a
training and nutrition schedule that can apply to most individuals who are
beginning an exercise program, or to those who are looking to change their
current program. In fact, I have trained many of my clients in the past using
a blueprint similar to the one presented in this article. The basic goals
here are to lose fat and build muscle.
I would like to clear up some misconceptions and elaborate on some basic
The concept of “Toning”
In my experience, most individuals have told me that their primary goal is to
“tone up” their muscles. Upon further questioning, what they really wanted
was to make their muscles more visible. There are two obvious methods to do
this: burning the surrounding subcutaneous fat (basically fat beneath the
skin, but above the muscle), and making the muscle itself larger. This
program will utilize both methods, thereby maximizing fat loss and achieving
the most “cut” appearance possible.
the traditional belief that doing large numbers of repetitive lifts will tone
the muscle is not entirely correct. A muscle basically has two options: to
hypertrophy (increasing the mass of the muscle by increasing myofiber/muscle
cell size – NOT the # of muscle cells), or to atrophy (the opposite). If a
well-nourished individual stimulates a muscle beyond its normal baseline, it
will hypertrophy. If the same individual stops using a particular muscle, it
will atrophy. In this program, we will try to complete 8-12 repetitions of
each exercise. This means that if you can do 13 repetitions, you need to
increase the weight the next time. Conversely, if you can only complete 7
repetitions, you need to reduce the weight for your next round on that
The idea that performing large numbers of crunches will burn the fat around
your abdomen, thereby giving you the “ripped abs” appearance, is quite
misleading. Basically, when your body burns fat, it will burn fat from the
last place it was stored. Therefore, if the last cookie you ate was stored in
your buttocks, that fat will be burned first; regardless of the type of
exercise you perform. Performing endless numbers of crunches will only stress
the abdominal musculature more, thereby stimulating muscle growth and
noted earlier, it is essential to incorporate both cardiovascular (aerobic)
and resistance training (anaerobic) exercises into your regimen to obtain
optimum benefit. When making your workout plan, it is often helpful to think
of each type of exercise through the “F.I.T.T.” principle, which stands for:
frequency, intensity, time, and type. We will start with the cardiovascular
aspect of exercise since it is quite basic. However, in practice, it is best
to perform your resistance training first, and then proceed to the
cardiovascular exercise (if you plan on doing both in one day). For a
metabolic explanation, please see the article “Exercise Physiology.”
sure that you perform a good warm-up for 5-10 minutes prior to performing any
exercises. The warm-up should be light cardiovascular activity, such as
walking, or slow biking, and should elevate your heart rate and possibly help
you break a sweat. Your workout should also be followed by a 5 minute cool
down, to help bring your heart rate back to its normal baseline. Stretching
is also recommended after your workout to help relax your muscles and speed
recovery. Make sure to stretch in slow, controlled motions. Fast, bouncy
(ballistic) stretching is not recommended.
Program For Amateurs
3-5 days/week (start slowly)
At a sufficient rate, your heart and respiratory rate should be elevated, and
you should be able to hold a conversation with some difficulty. You should be
sweating as well.) If you are using a heart rate monitor, then shoot for
50%-70% of your maximum heart rate (Maximum heart rate=220-age) if you are a
beginner. Aim for 70%-85% of your MHR if you are in good shape.
10-20 minutes to start (building up to 30 minutes) of continuous exercise.
(i.e. no breaks in between machines)
Whatever it is you enjoy doing. Lower-impact exercises are recommended if you
have fragile joints (i.e. elliptical trainers, swimming, recumbent bicycle).
Running and other sports are also included, as long as they are continuous.
For instance, doubles tennis is probably not as effective as jogging for this
particular program. In addition, make sure that the exercise is dynamic (not
isometric), rhythmic, and capable of creating the proper training intensity.
Training Program For Amateurs
3-4 days/week (start slowly), with at least 48 hours of rest between workouts
of similar muscle groups.
At a sufficient intensity to perform between 8-15 repetitions of each
exercise. If you can do only 7 repetitions, you need to decrease the weight.
If you can do 16, you need to increase the weight. Begin with 1 set (8-15
continuous repetitions) of each exercise for the 1st month, and then build up
to 3 sets per exercise, continuing to perform 8-15 repetitions per set. Rest
for 1 minute in-between sets.
You should be able to finish the following program within 45 minutes easily.
Resistance training against free weights or machines. Use of free weights should
be restricted to more advanced individuals, in order to prevent injury and
ensure proper form.
2 seconds on each concentric (positive) movement, and 4 seconds on each
eccentric (negative) movement. Breathe out on the concentric movements, and
inhale on the eccentric movements.
beginners, you may workout your entire body during one 45 minute session.
More advanced techniques will be discussed in further articles.
by using your largest muscle groups, and moving to the smaller ones last.
workout (in order):
Leg press – quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteus maximus (straightening knees,
This basic workout should take you no more than 30-45 minutes to conduct the resistance training portion of the workout. The cardiovascular program will vary on the length you desire to exercise. But remember to start slowly to avoid injury. It is essential on any fitness regimen to make smart food choices, or you will sabotage your hard work in the gym. As always, please consult your physician prior to beginning any nutrition or exercise program. Good luck, and have fun in the gym!
J. Glucose turnover during exercise in man. Ann N Y Acad Sci 1977; 301:45.
© Copyright 2005-2009 University of
Michigan Board of Regents and MedFitness Group