Everything that is done repeatedly causes adaptations in the body. This is why we exercise with weights. After performing a sufficient amount of strength training our body adapts in several ways, one of which is bigger and stronger muscles. However, some of the potentially negative adaptations that occur in the body have not been addressed in the mainstream bodybuilding publications. Below you will find out just what negative things strength training is doing to your body, and how a simple cardiovascular training protocol can help to mitigate these effects.
When you lift weights blood is pumped to your muscles to bring nutrients and flush out waste products. This helps to improve endurance during your sets. Over time your body gets better and better at pumping blood to your muscles. One of the main adaptations in your body that occurs to facilitate better blood flow is a thickening of the left ventricular wall of your heart. This thickening allows for more blood flow during those heavy sets, but it also has negative affects on your health. Thickening of the left ventricular wall causes blood to be pumped from the heart more forcefully. The blood vessels respond by becoming more rigid to withstand this pressure. The blood vessels can also develop small tears which become inflamed. This is where atherosclerotic plaque can begin to build up. All of these things lead to an unhealthy cardiovascular system that is at risk for a heart attack.
One of the other things that happens during weight training is the activation of the sympathetic branch of the nervous system. This is typically known as the “fight or flight” branch. When the sympathetic branch is activated it causes a release of the chemicals epinephrine and nor-epinephrine, which are commonly referred to as adrenaline. These chemicals can greatly enhance your strength. However, if you are constantly calling on the sympathetic branch of your nervous system it adapts by becoming more easily activated or by staying activated. This leads to what is known as “sympathetic dominance.” This essentially puts your body into “fight or flight” mode all of the time. As you may guess, this is very stressful on all of the body’s systems and not conducive to recovery from exercise.
So how do we correct these two issues? Well, there are many different corrective methods out there, and not all people will respond the same to any one method. However, in my work with professional athletes I found that one of the simplest methods is also one of the most effective. This method is simple cardiovascular exercise.
Everyone has heard about the health benefits of cardiovascular exercise. Many people also use cardiovascular exercise for fat loss (even though this is not the quickest method for fat loss).
However, most of us who are serious about weight training have heard at one time or another that cardiovascular exercise is actually detrimental to muscle and strength gains. While this is true with certain types of cardiovascular exercise, it is completely …