I will argue that most exercisers, even the most dedicated and hardworking fitness enthusiasts fail to ask a simple question before they commence an exercise program, an individual exercise, or a general mode of exercise. That question is this: What is my objective? The answer to this question delineates what type of exercise to perform and HOW to perform it. Everything starts with this question. The reality is most people exercise because they simply understand that exercise is good for them… but they fail to dig a little bit deeper. Answers to “What is my objective?” might include: prevent injury; increase lean muscle tissue; increase bone mineral density; reduce body fat; improve running speed; etc. Whatever the answer, exercise should be performed in accordance with that stated objective. And here is the key: Your objective shouldn’t be to get better at exercise. Stated otherwise, your objective shouldn’t be to raise a weight from point A to point B. We don’t receive credit for how much weight we lift, how many times we lift it, or how many times our chin elevates above the pull-up bar. Exercise is a means to an end, not an end in itself. Some critical examination and contemplation of this question will change the way you exercise forever (and dramatically improve your results).
One of the most important discoveries in the field of exercise over the last 10-15 years is that resistance training is far more beneficial for our health and the prevention of chronic disease than we ever would have imagined. Traditionally, we assumed resistance training outcomes centered around increases in muscle strength, muscle size, improved athletic ability, and increased bone mineral density. We relegated health improvements to aerobic exercise. A considerable body of research has shifted our understanding and all but deconstructed this false dichotomy that resistance training is for strength and aerobic exercise is for "health." But why is strength training so beneficial for our health? Emerging science tells us that the answer is, in short, "myokines." Myokines are proteins that are created when our muscles contract. These myokines influence the "crosstalk" between different organs in an autocrine, endocrine, or paracrine fashion. Through these channels, it appears that myokines may have a profound positive effect on metabolic disorders, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and a number of cardiovascular disease risk factors. 20 years ago we knew that resistance training made you stronger. 10 years ago we realized that it makes you healthier. We now are starting to understand that myokines are the probable physiological mechanism for the myriad of health benefits we see from resistance training (benefits that most exercisers, researchers, and health care professionals are still unaware of). The next time someone asks you why you strength-train, your answer should be, "To produce myokines, Bro."
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