Resistance Training as the Mode of Choice for Health and Fitness

I was alerted to the following paper through James Steele via Twitter:

Uncomplicated resistance training and health-related outcomes: evidence for a public health mandate.

Abstract: Compared to aerobic training (AT), resistance training (RT) has received far less attention as a prescription for general health. However, RT is as effective as AT in lowering risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and other diseases. There is a clear ability of RT, in contrast to AT, to promote gains, maintenance, or slow loss of skeletal muscle mass/strength. Thus, as an antisarcopenic exercise treatment, RT is of greater benefit than AT; given the aging of our population, this is of primary importance. In our view, a substantial barrier to greater adoption of RT is the incorrectly perceived importance of variables such as external load, intensity, and volume, leading to complex, difficult-to-follow regimes. We propose a more feasible and easier-to-adhere-to paradigm for RT that could affect how RT is viewed and adopted as a prescription for public health.

I find two things interesting about this paper: first is that Richard Winnett and Stuart Phillips are the authors and have long been champions of “uncomplicated resistance training.” The second item of interest is how much of their recommendations mirror what was tentatively put forth in “Biomarkers.” Now understand that I’m not suggesting that an aged population doesn’t come with its own unique set of circumstances and problems however it is important to note (as I’ll be showing in my series) that what works for people in the least responsive period of their lives, as far as health and training adaptations are concerned, will most certainly work for people when their biology is much faster on its feet.

What I find so interesting is how we’ve understood the value of this for decades and yet practitioners continue to recommend less-effective treatment, sometimes dangerously so. Some of this comes from strongly held beliefs rather than science and evidence-based outcomes. Some comes from the same reasons why selling only barbells isn’t the most profitable thing in the world: you only have a customer once. Get them to believe that drugs (or supplements) are required and you have a customer for much longer. Prescribing proper exercise brings home the bacon from a perspective of health for the user but it does not bring home the bacon for the prescriber on a monthly basis.

However in more rational societies, at least in this context, proper strength training is prescribed for total public health improvement. I can only hope we see something of that nature soon in America.