February is National Heart Health Month

February is national heart health month, so we’re going to be taking a look at what strength training can do for your heart health.

You may have assumed, like many others, that the purpose of strength training is strictly to increase your muscle strength, and that it doesn’t offer other aerobic benefits like jogging or cycling do. However, this isn’t actually the case! Your heart is just another muscle, and a good strength training workout actually can and does come with aerobic benefits to increase your heart health.

Strength Training is Good For Your Heart Health

The Journal of Exercise Physiology published a study known as “Resistance Training to Momentary Muscular Failure Improves Cardiovascular Fitness in Humans: A Review of Acute Physiological Responses and Chronic Physiological Adaptations”. This long name gets to the heart of what the study is about; it turns out that working to momentary muscular failure, which is that point of fatigue that we aim for during a strength training session actually does improve your cardiovascular fitness.

Essentially, your body responds much the same way whether you are performing resistance training or an aerobic activity such as swimming or cycling. According to the study, “As evidenced herein, the acute metabolic and molecular responses to resistance training performed to failure appear not to differ from traditional endurance or aerobic training when intensity is appropriately controlled. Acute myocardial function appears to be maintained and, perhaps, enhanced in response to acute intense resistance training with little stimulus occurring in terms of pressure and only an increased contraction rate (i.e., heart rate and potential stimulus from volume of blood pumped). The magnitude of acute local blood flow response appears to be determined by the contraction intensity.”

Your Body Adapts Under Sufficient Stress

The key in causing cardiovascular adaptation (ie, improved heart health,) is that the resistance or strength training must be sufficiently intense. You need to work to momentary muscular failure in order to see heart health benefits. According to the study, “A plethora of research demonstrates the positive physiological adaptations that may mediate the observed improvement in cardiovascular fitness as a result of resistance training. It is also clear that these adaptations are, for the most part, a result of RT at high intensity (i.e., performed to failure). That’s why we work as hard as we do at Vertex Fitness, and why we aim for muscle fatigue with every set. This is what gives you results, and what improves your heart health so that you can live your best life.

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