Which Comes First, Cardio or Weights?: Fitness Myths, Training Truths, and Other Surprising Discoveries from the Science of Exercise

Which Comes First, Cardio or Weights?: Fitness Myths, Training Truths, and Other Surprising Discoveries from the Science of Exercise

by Alex Hutchinson

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Award-winning journalist, physicist, and bestselling author of Endure Alex Hutchinson reveals the little-known and often surprising truths that science has uncovered about exercise, ranging from cardio and weights to competition to weight loss.

There's plenty of conventional wisdom on health and fitness—but how much of it is scientifically sound? The truth is: less than you'd think.

In Which Comes First, Cardio or Weights?, physicist and award-winning journalist Alex Hutchinson tackles dozens of commonly held beliefs and looks at just what research science has—and has not—proven to be true:

  • Should I exercise when I'm sick? 
  • Do I get the same workout from the elliptical machine that I get from running?
  • What role does my brain play in fatigue? 
  • Will running ruin my knees? 
  • To lose weight, is it better to eat less or exercise more? 
  • How should I adapt my workout routine as I get older? 
  • Does it matter what I'm thinking about when I train? 
  • Will drinking coffee help or hinder my performance? 
  • Should I have sex the night before a competition?

This myth-busting book covers the full spectrum of exercise science and offers the latest in research from around the globe, as well as helpful diagrams and plenty of practical tips on using proven science to improve fitness, reach weight loss goals, and achieve better competition results.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062092083
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Publication date: 05/24/2011
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 587,681
File size: 5 MB

About the Author

Alex Hutchinson, Ph.D., is a columnist for Outside magazine and was a long-time columnist for Runner's World. A National Magazine Award winner, he is a regular contributor to The New Yorker online, pens the weekly "Jockology" column in the Toronto Globe and Mail, and writes for the New York Times. FiveThirtyEight recently named him one of their "favorite running science geeks." He was a two-time finalist in the 1,500 meters at the Canadian Olympic Trials, and represented Canada internationally in track, cross-country, road racing, and mountain running competitions. He holds a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Cambridge, and has worked as a researcher for the U.S. National Security Agency. He lives in Toronto, Canada.

Table of Contents

Introduction: What This Book Is (and Isn't) 1

1 Getting Started 6

How long does it take to get in shape? 6

Am I exercising enough? 8

Which should I do first: cardio or weights? 10

Can I get fit in seven minutes a week? 12

Can exercise increase my risk of a heart attack? 15

Will exercising in cold air freeze my lungs? 16

When is it too hot to exercise? 19

Should I avoid exercising outside when air pollution is high? 20

How will exercise affect my immune system? 23

Is motivation to exercise genetic? 25

How long does it take to get unfit? 27

2 Fitness Gear 31

Is running on a treadmill better or worse than running outside? 31

Is the elliptical machine just as good as running? 34

Do I really need specialized shoes for walking, running, tennis, basketball, and so on? 36

Will running barefoot help me avoid injuries? 38

Will compression clothing help me exercise? 40

Does walking with poles give me a better workout? 42

Are sports video games real workouts? 44

What should I do with wobble boards and exercise balls? 46

Can a mouthpiece make me stronger, faster, and more flexible? 48

Is there any benefit to strengthening my breathing muscles? 51

3 The Physiology of Exercise 56

What role does my brain play in fatigue? 57

Does lactic acid cause muscle fatigue? 59

Why do I get sore a day or two after hard exercise? 61

What is "VO2max" and should I have mine tested? 63

What is "lactate threshold" and should I have mine tested? 66

How can I avoid muscle cramps? 68

What's happening when I get a stitch? 70

At what time of day am 1 strongest and fastest? 72

4 Aerobic Exercise 76

Why should I do cardio if I just want to build my muscles? 76

How hard should my cardio workout feel? 79

How do I determine my maximum heart rate? 81

What's the best way to breathe during exercise? 83

Will running on hard surfaces increase my risk of injuries? 85

Do I run "wrong"? 88

What's the best way to run up and down hills? 90

Does pumping my arms make me run faster? 92

Do spinning classes offer any benefits that I can't get from biking on my own? 94

Will taking the stairs make a real difference to my health? 96

5 Strength and Power 99

Do I need strength training if I just want to be lean and fit? 100

How much weight should I lift, and how many times? 101

How do I tone my muscles without bulking up? 103

What's the difference between strength and power? 106

Free weights or machines: what's the difference, and which should I use? 108

Can body-weight exercises like push-ups and sit-ups be as effective as lifting weights? 111

Can lifting weights fix my lower-back pain? 113

Will I get a better workout if I hire a personal trainer? 115

Do I need extra protein to build muscle? 117

6 Flexibility and Core Strength 121

Will stretching help me avoid injuries? 121

Could stretching before exercise make me slower and weaker? 124

Do flexible runners run more efficiently? 126

How should I warm up before exercise? 128

Will stretching after exercise help me avoid next-day soreness? 131

Where is my "core," and do I need to strengthen it? 133

What are the benefits of yoga for physical fitness? 136

What are the benefits of yoga for overall wellness? 137

7 Injuries and Recovery 141

Ouch, I think I sprained something. How long should I stay off it? 141

Will a post-exercise ice bath help me recover more quickly? 145

Will a heat pack or hot bath soothe my aching body? 147

Will massage help me avoid soreness and recover more quickly from workouts? 149

Should I take painkillers for post-workout soreness? 151

How long does it take to recover after a marathon or other long, intense effort? 153

Can "platelet-rich plasma" cure my tennis elbow or Achilles tendon? 155

How can I reduce my risk of stress fractures? 157

Should I exercise when I'm sick? 159

Will having a few drinks affect my workout the next day? 160

8 Exercise and Aging 164

What's the cumulative effect of all the exercise I've done over the years? 164

Will running ruin my knees? 167

How should I adapt my workout routine as I get older? 169

How quickly will my performance decline as I age? 171

How can I stay motivated to exercise as my performances decline? 173

What are the pros and cons of exercising in water? 175

What type of exercise is best for maintaining strong bones? 177

Can exercise keep my DNA from aging? 180

9 Weight Management 183

Is it possible to be fat and healthy at the same time? 183

Is weight loss simply the difference between "calories in" and "calories out?" 186

To lose weight, is it better to eat less or exercise more? 188

How can I take advantage of the "fat-burning" zone? 190

Won't exercise make me eat more and gain weight? 192

Can I lose weight while gaining (or maintaining) muscle? 194

Is lifting weights better than cardio for weight loss? 196

Will I burn more calories commuting by bike or on foot? 198

Can I control hunger by manipulating my appetite hormones? 201

Will sitting too long at work counteract all my fitness gains? 202

10 Nutrition and Hydration 206

Should I carbo-load by eating pasta the night before a competition? 206

What should I eat to avoid stomach problems during exercise? 208

What should I eat and drink to refuel after working out? 211

How much should I drink to avoid dehydration during exercise? 213

Is it possible to hydrate too much? 215

What ingredients do I really need in a sports drink? 217

Will taking antioxidant vitamins block the health benefits of exercise? 220

Should I be taking probiotics? 222

Will vitamin D make me a better athlete? 224

Is there any benefit to deliberately training with low energy stores? 226

Can I get the nutrients I need for a heavy exercise regimen from a vegetarian or vegan diet? 228

11 Mind and Body 232

If my brain is tired, will my body's performance suffer? 232

Does it matter what I'm thinking about when I train? 234

Does listening to music or watching TV help or hurt my workout? 237

Will I perform better under pressure if I focus harder? 239

Can swearing help me push harder in a workout? 241

Is there such a thing as "runner's high"? 243

Will taking a fitness class or joining a team change my brain chemistry during workouts? 245

What are the effects of exercise on the brain? 247

12 The Competitive Edge 251

How should I adjust my training in the final days before a competition? 251

Should I have sex the night before a competition? 254

Can drinking slushies boost my performance on hot days? 255

Will drinking coffee help or hinder my performance? 257

Does competing in front of a crowd improve performance? 259

How much sleep do I need for optimal physical performance? 261

How should I pace myself in a long-distance race? 263

Is endurance or sprint speed more important in field sports like soccer? 265

Conclusions: From Lab to Gym 268

Acknowledgments 271

References 273

Index 310

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