After 8 months of tracking 119 overweight and previously sedentary volunteers while they performed resistance training, aerobic exercise, or a combination of the two, the clear winner was… aerobic exercise . By a lot. The cardio group lost about 4 pounds while their resistance training peers gained two. Yes, the weight gain was attributed to added lean mass. However, that muscle mass didn’t lead to any meaningful fat loss over the course of the study. In fact, the aerobics only group shed more than 3 ½ pounds of fat while the lifters didn’t lose a single pound despite the fact that they actually exercised 47 more minutes each week than the cardio group. Not surprisingly, the cardio-plus-resistance group improved their body composition best—losing the most fat while adding some lean mass. But they also spent twice as much time in the gym.
Weight training to failure
Is is absolutely necessary to train to muscular failure to build maximum muscle mass? If you would have asked me this 10 years ago and I would have said yes.
However, I've come to realize that using heavy weight and taking your exercise to complete muscular failure is but one of many ways to increase intensity levels. Mind you, it's a very effective way but only one of the ways.
Today, I tend to think that in order to build muscle, you need to improve upon your routine and exercises with each passing workout, day after day, week after week and month after month.
That is, you need to either use more weight that you did last workout for your working set, using the same reps, and rest times. Or, you do more repetitions using the same weight than you did last workout on your work set, using the same rest periods. Or, do the whole workout in less time.
By improving your weight training sessions with each workout, you increase the intensity of each session therefore creating a better environment for muscle growth. However, going to failure on your last set is very effective for muscle growth, but, it is only effective as long as you are improving.
For example, let's say I used 225 pounds last workout for 8 repetitions and I went to failure on the 8th repetition. Now, let's say this workout, I did 8 unassisted repetitions and hit muscular failure on the 9th repetition. I've improved from this workout to the last. You need to keep improving with each workout in order to build muscle mass.
I look forward to reading the next article. I’m a little confused by part of this one. You wrote: “But there’s another way that runners often mimic bodybuilders in the gym: we focus on specific muscles with isolation exercises. Here are a few examples: …There are distinct days for distinct muscles like “bis and tris day” or “legs day.” Then you contradicted this with the quote from Randy where you wrote: “Don’t lift distinct body parts on certain days (like chest day or back day, etc.). As a runner, you don’t care about “bis and tris.” You care about how strong you are.”