…I’m happy to see a new meta-analysis that brings together the evidence on one particular aspect of this question: the relationship between strength training and running economy, which is the measure of how much energy you burn to run at a given pace. I’ve written before about evidence that strength training does indeed improve running economy, but you get a much clearer picture by systematically assessing all the available evidence rather than looking at individual studies.
For a frame of reference, the average male has a VO2max of 35-40ml/kg min (the average is less for females); this meta analysis indicated an average increase of 2.32ml/kg min for elite athletes with a VO2max already above 60…
The study was a meta analysis of other studies, attempting to generalize results among the five publications that met their inclusion criteria. One of those criteria was that the participants had to have a VO2max above 60ml/kg min, placing them well above the average.
Generalizing these results to the average person may not be too valuable, especially when other training changes will likely cause a larger increase in VO2max….
Strength training for first-timers can be intimidating: New movements and terminology, and a sometimes scary weight room environment. On the bright side, beginners experience a phenomenon called “newbie gains,” or a period of rapid improvement in strength, size, and muscle. Learn to make the best of it!
What about hot yoga specifically? Heat makes you feel like you’re working harder, but that’s not a benefit by itself. Compare to sitting in a hot room—you’re sweating [and miserable], but it doesn’t count as exercise.
If you do it often enough that you’re getting acclimated to the heat, that will help you exercise harder in the heat, like if you run a race on a hot day. There are some small benefits to exercising in the heat, but it doesn’t turn a non-cardio exercise into a cardio one.
The only strictly genetic component to an “increased” metabolism is the amount of “Uncoupling Protein” you have on the inner cell membrane of your mitochondria. The more of this protein you have, the less efficient your body is at turning calories into energy so to speak. The calories are just turned into heat energy. This requires more calories to support body function.
A high concentration of these mitochondria with a high levels of UCP are located within what’s called brown fat. This brown fat is strictly used to generate and maintain body heat. The amount of brown fat that you have decreases with age, contributing to 90 y/o men wearing cardigans in the summer and a slower “metabolism.”
Also, the “eat smaller meals more frequently” is actually a fallacy. Much like “always eat breakfast,” it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Healthy people hear it’s healthy, attach themselves to the habit, and it becomes consequentially associated with health.
When it comes to weight loss, people often think that you need to spend countless hours in the gym, pounding away at the treadmill while you watch reruns of How I Met Your Mother. Not only do you not need much time in the gym, it might be optimal to spend it elsewhere. Here’s why.
But if it makes you happy, you can do it. The only exercise plan that’s right for you is the one you can stick to where you do something.
If you’re struggling with exercise, try to keep that in mind. If you despise your workout, then you need to find something else. Clinical studies aside, anything you’ll actually do consistently is going to be more effective than anything you don’t.