Do you sometimes feel confused about how to best use the limited time you have for exercise? There is so much choice nowadays but, which is best? Find out more...
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What is the best type of exercise and if you could choose just one, which one would it be?
Recently I had a conversation with a friend of mine about a piece of research talking about the anti-aging effects of various types of exercise. I had seen this research before but now it flashed in my awareness in new light.
This is an excellent question and one I'd like to address in a systematic way. So here's a table representing my view on the benefits of 4 major types of exercise.
Before we dive in, keep in mind that in my view, longevity is just one of the important factors worth considering when designing an balanced exercise program.
4 types of exercise
Today I'd like to compare 4 types of exercise.
When it comes to hypertrophy, or increasing muscle mass, HIT and resistance training are the clear winners. It can be argued that HIIT can be helpful as well but it is rarely used as the sole means of increasing muscle mass. Endurance training, on the other hand, can lead to hypertrophy of your heart, which is not always desirable but contributes insignificantly to muscle gains elsewhere.
Significant strength gains can be seen for both HIT and resistance training. Again, some people argue that they've gained strength through HIIT but I don't think it is as effective as the other two modalities. Strength gains are usually limited or non-existent with traditional endurance training. Some athletes, even report a drop in strength when they incorporate any appreciable amount of endurance training.
By efficiency, I mean being able to perform an effective workout in a short amount of time. Or getting good results with little time investment. In my experience, HIT and HIIT are the clear winners here.
You can get cardio benefits with all of these modalities. This has been one of the most extensively researched exercise benefits, so I won't dwell too much on it. Just bear in mind that large volume endurance training, as well as HIIT training, can lead to unfavourable heart changes.
Systemic effect, in my view, is the impact of exercise on most if not all major body systems. Here, I'm thinking of the muscular, skeletal, vascular, lymphatic, and nervous systems. HIT, HIIT and resistance training tend to produce such systemic adaptations, while I think the effect is less pronounced for endurance training.
When it comes to flexibility, with the right knowledge all of these can be performed in a variety of ways. I can even think of a workout that you can perform for each type with no equipment in a room....
Safety, to me, is key when designing a balanced and effective, sustainable exercise programme. I'd argue that HIT is the only one that 'ticks the box' because it is the only modality that insists on moving the weight very slowly and maintaining good form. This reduces the stress on the joints and makes injuries due to inattention less likely.
HIT, HIIT, and resistance training, I think, can be performed sustainably over the long term. With endurance training, I've just seen far too many people while working as a therapist suffering from joint problems or very tight muscles.
Finally, when it comes to longevity, the study that started this discussion highlighted the anti-ageing effects of HIIT and endurance training. However, although I've left question marks in the table, some evidence suggests that resistance training contributes to longevity. In my view, HIT is one of the best forms of resistance training and in this talk, you can learn more about its health and longevity benefits.
And the winner is...
From my perspective, considering all factors, HIT is the overall winner. So, if you could only do one type of training, I would certainly recommend HIT.
Thanks for watching/reading. For a deeper discussion or to work together, please feel free to drop me a line on: firstname.lastname@example.org
Martin Stefanov Petkov
Master your Super Power