|Basic weight training to get toned, or hours of cardio in the evening and cotton balls a la pret-a-porter for launch, you got the choice. A choice between health and happiness and chronic fatigue and misery.|
*Note: There is nothing to be said against "cardio" training, but if you want to up your cardiovascular capacity you got to challenge your heart, so HIIT for VO2Max increases and nothing but a fast-paced walk on an incline to get some baseline activity into a sedentary day are the tools you should use - no more "training in the zone!"The scientists had picked their study participants using the following criteria: Healthy physical condition, non-smokers, sedentary or recreationally active (engaging in B20 min of vigorous intensity exercise three or more times per week over the 3 months prior to the study), no use of pharmacologic contraceptives or other medications that might interfere hormone levels, no self-reported endocrine abnormality (diabetes, thyroid or liver disease), self-reported regular menstrual cycles (cycle 25–32 days long) and not to be pregnant. The emphasis on the menstrual regularity actually hints at the real background of the study, which was originally conducted to "evaluate urinary steroid proﬁle across the menstrual cycle phases in healthy women, checking urinary steroid excretion before and after a strength training program" (Timon. 2013); a research question that would obviously also be relevant with respect to what you've read / learned in the SuppVersity Athlete's Triad Series (read more).
Lifting weight increases strength, tones and leaves the endocrine system intact
The measured changes were yet not so pronounced that you could draw any meaningful conclusions on whether or not a reasonable training regimen like this could skew the menstrual regularity of previously healthy young women. In fact, Timon et al. actually suggest that they could be exploited to increase the benefits from strength training:
Apropos benefits: What was it about the toning effect? Well, if you take a look at the exercise program, it included neither "toning" exercises nor "cardio" training - just a 10-15 minute warm up with general and specific exercises that was followed by 3x sets of 9-10 repetitions for each of the seven strength exercises:
"Focusing on hormonal variations across the menstrual cycle, changes in estradiol and progesterone excretion were observed during the follicular and luteal phases, following a similar pattern both before and after training. [...] Given that there is a high correlation between the blood and the urine steroid proﬁle [...], a large excretion would indicate a rise in ovarian production of estradiol and progesterone during these phases. Based on these hormonal variations across the menstrual cycle, some studies have stated that muscle hypertrophy and strength gain are higher in the luteal phase than in the follicular phase Sakamaki et al. (2012)." (Timon. 2013).
The best workout is always the one you can stick to. And the 8% body fat in 10 weeks crossfit workout you read about before does not really fulfill that criterion.
- leg press,
- hamstring curl,
- bench press,
- seated pulley dorsal,
- dumbbell bicep curl and
- seated French press
|Figure 1: Body composition, and 1RM strength before and after the 24 training sessions (Timon. 2013)|
|Learn how to thrive without a scale and program success (read more)|
Be honest with yourself : Did you achieve that in the past 12 months or were you too busy jumping from one "quick fix solution workout" to the next while constantly scaring the hack out of yourself when you did or didn't see the tongue of the scale moving?
- Greenway FL, Bray GA, Heber D. Topical fat reduction. Obes Res. 1995 Nov;3 Suppl 4:561S-568S.
- Sakamaki M, Yasuda T, Abe T. Comparison of low-intensity blood flow-restricted training-induced muscular hypertrophy in eumenorrheic women in the follicular phase and luteal phase and age-matched men. Clin Physiol Funct Imaging. 2012 May;32(3):185-91.
- Sowers MR, Crutchfield M, Richards K, Wilkin MK, Furniss A, Jannausch M, Zhang D, Gross M. Sarcopenia is related to physical functioning and leg strength in middle-aged women. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2005 Apr;60(4):486-90.
- Timon R, Corvillo M, Brazo J, Robles MC, Maynar M. Strength training effects on urinary steroid profile across the menstrual cycle in healthy women. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2013 Jun;113(6):1469-75.