Asking the Right Question

We all want to exercise efficiently. If we work hard, we want to see results. If we take a long view, we want eventual progress.

Sometimes people ask questions about the best way to train. Then the discussion focuses on answering the questions. But are we asking the right questions? Or are we getting distracted?

The 9/30/2014 N.Y. Times has a short segment on the following question: If you are going to do some weight lifting and some aerobic/cardio work on the same day, which should you do first? People disagree. They cite a study that says to me, someone is not asking the right question.

For many of us, weight lifting is a resistance exercise that does not rise to the level of heavy, muscle-straining work. For many of us, when rowing or doing other aerobic/cardio work, we do not stretch our limits at the anaerobic threshold.

Isn’t the right (or first) question to ask when considering doing both weights and rowing in one day, “What do I hope to achieve?”  Answering that question involves considering the type of workout I will do. If I plan to row 6k at my absolute limit to the point of exhaustion, I agree I should not lift weights afterwards – I should be in full control when lifting weights. On the other hand, if my row is essentially a warmup for weight lifting, why not do it first.

Similarly, if I intend to lift 3 sets of 10 reps of heavy weights that will take me to the limit, I would not want to attempt a serious row afterwards. On the other hand, an easy row after weight lifting could help my body recover from the tightness and pain resulting from the weight work.

That is a long way of saying, consider what works for you based on your level of fitness and your goals and practices. The experts have many issues to study and some of their work is helpful, but think twice before applying it to yourself.