Michael Grogan is a Personal Trainer/Movement Coach in Melbourne CBD & Clifton Hill, Australia. He uses a combination of Gymnastic Strength, Advanced Mobility and Barbell Strength & Power exercises to achieve increased levels of performance and body composition with his clients. For more information follow him on instagram: https://www.instagram.com/michaelgrogan_movement/ facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MichaelGroganMovement and for enquiries contact [email protected]

I used to be on the ‘cardio buzz’. I loved the simplicity of going for a run 4-5 times per week and getting it done. I was 17/18 years old and I was looking to get in top shape like the great heroes of the time; Stifler from American Pie, Mike ‘the situation’ from Jersey Shore and Peter Andre, to name a few.

After a few months of ‘getting in shape’ by constant, steady-paced, long distance running; I was invited to a high school pool-party (oh the nostalgia). As with any adolescent male, I was excited to get down there and mix it up with my female school chums wearing next to no clothing. When I got there I saw my mate Steve from the rugby team. Steve had been involved in an intensive strength and conditioning pre-season program with the Senior Squad. We simultaneously got changed into our swimmers and stood next to each other – I saw, in the reflection in the mirror that all the hard training had paid off… For Steve! I looked on and saw Peter Andre (Steve) and me… No, I did not look like Stifler, or the Situation but probably more like a shirtless Harry Potter – the early years.

Yes all my steady-paced cardio training had achieved the physique of prepubescent skinny-fat wizard.

Needless to say, I got Steve to show me his way and introduce me to the world of lifting.

Although steady-paced cardio does pose some general health benefits, it is by no-means the only type of exercise you need to do in order to improve your physique or performance. The purpose of this article is to highlight 4 reasons why lifting, often heavy, weights is the answer to improving your physique and performance.

1. Lifting will increase your metabolism – Stoke the fire

Cleans are a very effective compound lift for increasing muscle composition

Cleans are a very effective compound lift for increasing muscle composition

Lifting compound, heavy weights (e.g Squat, Dead, Bench) will increase the muscle composition of your body. It will lead your body to require more energy to carry out its daily duties and work from as it is operating from a higher strength base. This means you body will be more able to efficiently use its energy throughout the day a.k.a it will have a higher metabolism. People with a higher metabolism will find it much easier to lose and keep off body fat than those with a lower metabolism.

“But doesn’t slow steady cardio also improve your metabolism?”

The answer is yes, but it will only improve your metabolism by about 000000000000.1% compared to rate that lifting heavy compound weights will.

N.B those numerical stats are slightly exaggerated, but you get my point.

2. Body Shape

So you have decided to get ‘in shape’? Good for you! Ok, now by the term ‘in shape’ I will assume that at the moment you are ‘not in shape’ and therefore you are looking to improve the ‘shape’ of your body? Great, glad we clarified that.

So imagine your ‘out of shape’ self right now…imagine your ‘out of shape ‘ body being 10% smaller but exactly the same shape, congratulations you have now have unlocked the effects of only doing steady-paced cardio as your training method, cue the flashbacks to the pre-pubescent Harry Potter with no shirt on.

As steady-paced cardio does not really improve the muscle tone or composition of your body and has next to no effect on your upper body – it will not improve the look of your body – at best it will only make it a smaller version of what it already is.

“But Usain Bolt does cardio and he has a great body shape?”

Usain Bolt does not do cardio, he runs his 100m race in world record time without taking a breath of oxygen – the opposite of cardio.

With steady-paced cardio as your only training your body, at best, will start resemble the body of a marathon runner – and everyone wants to look like that, said no one ever.

3. New athletic potential and capacity to work

Overhead Squats are an efficient Compound Lift

Overhead Squats are an efficient Compound Lift

When you lift heavy compound weights it improves your overall strength base, allowing your body to achieve a greater output when exercising. Take this back to your steady state cardio and you now have the ability to turn that slow run into a set of 10 fast sprints which will be much more effective for your overall body fat loss.

I heard lifting weights makes your bulky and inhibits your athletic ability?

No, that’s your reduction in mobility and flexibility due to not looking after your movement correctly. It is in fact running itself that may have negative effects on your muscle and joints range of motion. More will be explained on this in point number 4.

4. Using your Full Range of Motion (ROM)

Ass to Grass is usually the most beneficial way to squat 

Ass to Grass is usually the most beneficial way to squat

Lifting compound weights correctly through the muscle and joint’s full ROM opens up your body and allows it to regain the mobility you may have lost over the years. Opening up the ROM in your joints will allow you to perform at a much higher level in all forms of activity, including running.

When you run at a slow steady pace for a long period of time you are not using the joints full ROM and therefore you will progressively decrease the amount of movement you have available in your joints.

“But I heard you shouldn’t squat below your knee height?”

You should squat below your knee height if you have the ROM available to do so. Everyone who does not have a specific injury or incompatible bone structure should look to improve their mobility to allow them to squat below their knee height.

To Conclude:

Don’t get me wrong; slow steady paced cardio does have health benefits. It is obviously much better than sitting on the couch and doing absolutely nothing. What I want to highlight throughout this article is that if you want to change your body shape by losing fat and keeping it off, you really need resistance training. Including resistance training into your regimen will increase the muscle composition of your body. This will make your body a more efficient machine by vastly improving your metabolism, improving your body shape, give you the keys to unlock new athletic potential and increasing the ROM within your muscles and joints.

Alright, I’m off to meet Hermaine, Ron Weasley and the rest of the squad down the gym and ‘get liftin’, that Hogwartz pool party is coming up, and this wizard has a lot of work to do!

For all those wanting advice on setting their own movement standards get in touch: [email protected]




The following two tabs change content below.
Michael is a Human Performance Coach based in Melbourne, Australia creating high performance human machines since 2009. Michael believes in building physical performance using gymnastic strength, advanced mobility and barbell strength & power. Building mental performance through constant challenge, goal setting and skill based activities. Building lifestyle performance through discipline and mental drive.