With the weather heating up, the treadmills in the gym have been getting some serious use. But what if you don’t like to run, can you still get in shape without running? A recent study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism tested traditional treadmill cardio against a fast-paced bodyweight workout.
The study had twenty two college-aged active women split into three groups and did four workouts per week for one month.
Group A did 30 minutes of treadmill running at 85% maximum heart rate, the common “cardio zone”.
Group B did eight rounds of excises consisting of 20 seconds of exercise, either burpees, jumping jacks, mountain climbers, or squat thrusts with 10 seconds of rest between rounds.
Group C did nothing; they were the non-training control group.
The participants’ enjoyment and the likelihood of them continuing the workout plan were also examined prior to and after training.
Following training, both Groups A and B increased their cardio fitness levels by the same amount, 7-8%. The much shorter bodyweight workout got the same aerobic results that the more traditional 30 minutes of cardio on the treadmill did. However only Group B, the bodyweight workout group, saw an increase in muscle endurance in leg strength (+40%), sit-ups (+ 64 %), push-ups (+135%), and back extensions (+75 %). Group B got much more “bang for their buck”, not only improving cardiovascular endurance, but also drastically improving muscle endurance as well.
The researchers concluded that, “although improvements in cardiovascular fitness are induced by both, whole-body resistance training imparted an additional benefit in the form of improved muscle endurance.” Fast-paced bodyweight training might be able to improve cardiovascular fitness just as well as running on a treadmill, and it unquestionably can give you better improvements in total body muscle endurance. The researchers also found that, at least in this group, the participants enjoyed the bodyweight workout more and intended to continue the training program over the treadmill running.
Total body movements should be the foundation for any fitness program, whether it is for fat loss, athletic improvement or gaining strength. Traditional cardiovascular exercise is great and if you like to run then do it. The idea isn’t so much that one form of exercise is better than the other, it is that there are multiple ways to reach the same goal. Find the one that works for and have fun with it.
—Kyler Crouse, BS, CSCS, FMS is a personal trainer and strength coach that trains at Sierra Athletic Club and a training center instructor at Barton Memorial Hospital. Kyler specializes in helping people look and feel awesome even after injury. Visit www.KCstrength.com for more information.