3 reasons why jogging can be counterproductive!
Provocative question, isn’t it? But I will describe in this article why I come to this question!
This article is not aimed at competitive endurance athletes, for whom the question does not arise. Of course, they have to focus on running and have low-intensity long endurance sessions in their training programme in order to succeed in their sport.
But for all other hobby athletes who want to maintain their health or improve their figure, as well as competitive athletes in high-speed strength sports or team game sports, this article is written.
Endurance training is the most commonly recommended form of training for health and “wellness”. The standard in the fitness and health industry is the recommendation to do long loose endurance sessions, whether running, cycling, rowing and the like, with strength development being secondary.
However, this training approach ignores some basic facts:
Strength is the ability of your muscles to generate force against an external resistance, strength is what we need in everyday life to climb stairs, pick things up from the ground, jump down from somewhere, do recreational sports and all that without provoking overload damage to the passive and active musculoskeletal system. In other words, injury prevention is achieved through appropriately developed strength skills.
Endurance training works antagonistically to strength, i.e. it is the counterpart to strength. To “maximise” the cardiovascular system is completely missing the point, i.e. to maintain health and be prepared for the stresses of everyday life.
The body is able to adapt to given stresses that affect it, and it becomes more efficient as a result, provided the stress is not subliminal or destructive. Endurance training, especially in the low-intensity range, is not an intense stress for the body in terms of strength because the stress on the muscles is very low. It adapts to the recurring, low-level stress by optimising the metabolism necessary for it, i.e. the carbohydrate-fat metabolism, depending on the intensity. However, the strength abilities will of course suffer, as these are not required to any great extent.
To put it in a nutshell, the more you run, the better you will become at running and the less your strength abilities will be developed, especially if you do no strength training or undifferentiated strength training, such as low weight, many repetitions (also a classic recommendation from many doctors and physiotherapists). What can happen with such a training regime is shown in practice, a multitude of overload injuries are provoked, which are often not even associated with running, because that is “healthy”.
Here are a few examples: back pain, patellar tendonitis, Achilles tendonitis, “runner’s knee”, to name but a few. The result is a visit to the doctor (recommendation of rest, anti-inflammatory medication and/or muscle relaxants), then physiotherapy and then it starts all over again. I’m sure a lot of them know this cycle, I’m right.
Why is this so? Because in most amateur athletes the musculature is already poorly developed and the corresponding joints, which are supposed to stabilise these muscles, are not able to cope with the recurring small but nevertheless occurring strains in the long term and this leads to overload.
You will rarely hear “your leg muscles are too weak, I would go for a little less running and do more heavy squats so that the mechanics remain more stable when running and thus these overuse injuries can be avoided!”
Adaptations to endurance training
Endurance training is directly antagonistic to maintaining or building muscle mass.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t do any more endurance training at all, but you should be aware that endurance training should be the smallest part of your training if you want to improve your figure and stay healthy for a long time! And if you do do endurance training then please don’t just do it slowly and with low intensity!
Unfortunately, seniors in particular are often advised to go Nordic walking and to avoid heavy weight training. If they do strength training, they should rather do it with light weights and many repetitions.
If you look at 80-year-old seniors today, most of them have thin arms and thin legs. Ok, often the men have a big belly, but still thin extremities. Why is that? The older you get, the less your body will be able to build up or maintain muscles, because your hormone balance changes and also in everyday life you don’t use as much force that would demand the muscles.
Therefore, from the age of 30 onwards, it becomes more and more important to strengthen your muscles or at least to make sure that you retain as much muscle as possible.
Unfortunately, exactly the opposite is propagated, in every village there is almost already a “health run”, a marathon, a triathlon, ski touring races etc., all endurance competitions in which everyone can of course take part and also “finish” and from the point of view of the cardiovascular system this is usually no problem, but ask your passive and active musculoskeletal system…! Sooner or later it will suffer. But to each his own!
It’s not a problem for younger athletes, i.e. up to the age of about 30, but from then on it becomes a problem for most of them. I know what I’m talking about, it happened to me in exactly the same way. I took part in 24-hour runs, ran half marathons and marathons, cycled the Transalp, etc. Everything was no problem until I was 30, but then the “problems” became more and more frequent and I was no longer really happy with my figure.
I lost a lot of muscle mass, even though I did strength training 3 times a week, I didn’t even bench press 100kg, which shouldn’t be a problem for an 83kg man.
3.Why did this endurance hype arise in the first place?
Endurance training at a low heart rate was believed to be optimal for keeping the heart healthy.
Despite the fact that a lot of data has long shown that properly designed strength training gives the heart enough stimulation and that nutrition plays a much more important role than endurance performance when it comes to being protected from cardiovascular disease.
And more endurance is always better than less, so a 15km run is always better than a 4km run right? WRONG, look at the winners of the marathons, they look like the 80 year olds described above and when running 100km a week a lot of oxygen is processed in the metabolism which creates many by-products that have to be removed by the organism, for this the “antioxidants” play an important role, like vitamin C for example.
For these people it is then very difficult to get these amounts of vitamin C and vitamin C is involved in almost all metabolic processes in the body, very important for the immune system (leukocytes, monocytes,…) and plays an important role.
A study in the “American Journal of Sports and Medicine” from 2012, which showed a death rate of 0.75 / 100000 in marathon runners from 2000-2009, which means 1 in 133,333 marathon runners die in the process. The death rate for strength athletes is not even measurable.
Long endurance units have a catabolic effect and intensive long endurance units are actively catabolic for the musculature. This can also be seen in high-performance athletes who take it to the extreme, such as cyclists in the Tour de France or marathon runners, who colloquially consist of nothing but skin and bones.
And I want to mention it again, at 25 it’s no problem to recover from long endurance units, at 40 it becomes very difficult and at 60 it’s simply no longer a good idea.
If I had to express it in numbers how much endurance training I would do to be healthy and efficient, always adapted to my goals, then I would say 25% endurance training and 75% strength training.
And please plan the strength training intensively and differentiated, i.e. a good training plan should definitely include deadlifts, squats, bench presses, pull-ups and shoulder presses and around these basic exercises specific assistance exercises depending on the individual requirements.
All my recommendations or blog content have been carefully considered and tested and are intended for healthy adults over the age of 18. None of my articles can be a substitute for competent medical advice. Please consult a doctor before starting any exercise, nutrition or supplementation programme. Especially if you have a history of medical conditions.
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