Hi, Al Bargen here. How and what you train depends on what you are trying to achieve with your body, conditioning, and health. You’ve heard about strength training and you’ve heard about endurance training. You may be wondering which is the best for you, or which is right for you.
A lot of fitness experts often tout one or the other. This is generally due to their personal preference, the one they prefer to work on. Not all of them. Many will also give you well-rounded advice and a well-rounded work out. For your health and fitness, you can use both. If you’ve been away from fitness for awhile you’ll likely want to start with endurance training. If you already get in some fitness time, you may be ready to add some strength training to your workouts.
Let’s break down the difference and why each is important.
Strength training helps build muscle. Over time that adds to your endurance. You can also use the same method of strength training as you can for some endurance training. We will discuss that in a bit, but first I want to impress upon you the importance of strength training.
You gain strength by lifting weights. Don’t worry, you aren’t going to get big and bulky like a body builder. Those guys work out for eight hours or more per day. Let’s face it, that’s not what you’re here for. You don’t have time for that, so don’t worry that you’re going to look like one of those guys. You’re simply going to gain muscle strength and tone.
You will generally start out with light weights and gradually add to it over time. It may take a few weeks to find out what works best for you. You don’t want to start with twenty pound dumbbells if you’re completely out of shape or never lifted one in your life. Start with five pounds or less and shoot for about 8 reps or repetitions. Take a short break and do two more sets.
If you find that’s too easy, you can do more weight next time. You want to fatigue the muscles but not completely wear them out. You also want to switch out between upper body and lower body. You can do a full body workout every other day, but many people like to focus on one section each day. If you only want to strength train on three days per week, then you’ll opt for a whole body workout on those days.
You will also want to switch up how you do this, heavy weights with low reps helps build strength, while light weights with lots of reps helps build endurance.
For example, on Monday you can lift weights for strength training. Let’s say you do bicep curls with ten pound weights and you do three sets of eight reps.
On Wednesday, to build endurance you will drop the weight to five pounds or less and do about twenty reps instead of eight.
This is something you will want to experiment with so you can create a plan that works for you and make sure you mix it up regularly so you get the benefits of both.
Endurance training is lower impact but trains you to work out for longer periods before wearing out. It’s also good for cardio workouts. A good thirty minute workout routine is ideal for general health and cardio, but it’s also good to make sure you can workout for longer periods if the need ever arises. Of course you will want to employ some form of circuit training or High Intensity Interval training. (HIIT)
You need both and should work on both each week.
Being strong is a good thing, but there are times in life that you need to muscles to work over long periods of time. When you develop your endurance it takes longer for the muscles to give out. If you were stranded five miles from nowhere and had to walk to a phone or to even get cell phone service, would you be able to do it?
To start out you may want to devote 3 days to strength, three days to endurance, and rest for one day. Not only is a day of rest wise, you also deserve it.
To answer the question of whether you need strength training or endurance training, the simple answer is you need both. This is a great way to increase your overall health.