Looking to shake up your workout routine? You might want to consider hybrid exercise training, which combines heart-pumping aerobic action with muscle-strengthening moves in the same exercise session. The strategy has the advantage of meeting two key goals of the federal Physical Activity Guidelines in one fell swoop. And it also appears to be one of the best — and most time-efficient — ways for people who are overweight to lower their risk of cardiovascular-related risk factors, according to a new study (see “A comparison of 5 workout strategies”).
“Like many fitness trends, hybrid training likely started in the athletic community and then moved into the mainstream,” says Dr. I-Min Lee, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School who studies the role of physical activity in disease prevention. It’s not exactly a novel concept, since people have been informally combining types of exercise (such as carrying small weights to do biceps curls while walking) for a while, she points out. And fitness classes often feature combination moves, such as a squat plus an overhead press, known as a thruster (see illustration). A hybrid workout would consist entirely of these kinds of moves, which work for several major muscle groups while simultaneously boosting your heart rate.
|A comparison of 5 workout strategies federal Physical Activity Guidelines recommends the following goals for adults: at least 150 minutes weekly of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, or 75 minutes weekly of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, or an equivalent combination of both muscle-strengthening activities on at least two days a week. Are some exercise strategies more effective than others for improving factors that influence the risk of heart disease? To find out, researchers identified five categories of workouts:1. continuous endurance training: aerobic exercise (such as brisk walking, cycling, or swimming) done for at least 20 minutes at a steady intensity, without any rest periods2. interval training (also known as high-intensity interval training): alternating periods of high- and low-intensity aerobic exercise3. resistance training: muscle-strengthening exercises, including the use of free weights, weight machines, and resistance bands4. combined training: aerobic and resistance exercises performed consecutively in a single session5. hybrid training: exercises that are both aerobic and strength-based, done at various levels of intensity during a single session. For the analysis, researchers pooled findings from 81 studies involving people who were overweight or obese. The 4,330 participants had an average age of 39, and 59% were women. Measurements of interest included blood pressure, blood lipids (cholesterol and triglycerides), blood sugar, body composition, and cardiorespiratory fitness. Combined training produced the greatest improvements on all of those cardiometabolic factors, followed by hybrid training. The results were published in the June 2022 issue of Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.
Hybrid training: A time saver
A recent study found that combination training — defined as doing aerobic exercise and muscle strengthening separately but in a single session — is the most effective of several workout patterns for improving cardiometabolic risk factors (such as blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels). However, it’s also the most time-consuming. In the study, that kind of training took an average of 187 minutes per week. The hybrid training, in contrast, took an average of 128 minutes per week.
The one caveat is that performing hybrid exercises may be more challenging than doing aerobic and strength exercises consecutively. As Dr. Lee points out, the study included younger people without any known health problems aside from being overweight or obese. “So, it’s not clear if these findings translate to older people or those with health conditions,” she cautions.
Why strong muscles matter
The main take-home message is to make sure you’re adding strength-based exercises to your routine in whatever way makes the most sense for you. Strong muscles boost your basal metabolic rate — the amount of energy your body needs to keep working when you’re not moving. That improves weight-loss efforts by ramping up the number of calories you burn. Building muscle mass also appears to help prevent and improve diabetes because it helps regulate blood sugar levels and related cardiometabolic factors. Harvard Health Publishing’s Workout Workbook has sample exercise routines that can be tailored to your fitness level (to order, go to /ww).
Bible verses for today’s meditation and inspiration: Matthew E. McLaren
2 Corinthians 13:9 For we rejoice when we ourselves are weak but you are strong; this we also pray for, that you be made complete.
Colossians 1:28 We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ.
Colossians 4:12 Epaphras, who is one of your number, a bondslave of Jesus Christ, sends you his greetings, always laboring earnestly for you in his prayers, that you may stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God.
2 Corinthians 10:15-16 not boasting beyond our measure, that is, in other men’s labors, but with the hope that as your faith grows, we will be, within our sphere, enlarged even more by you, so as to preach the gospel even to the regions beyond you, and not to boast in what has been accomplished in the sphere of another.
2 Thessalonians 1:3 We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brethren, as is only fitting, because your faith is greatly enlarged, and the love of each one of you toward one another grows ever greater;
2 Peter 3:18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.
Ephesians 1:17-18 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened so that you will know what the hope of His calling is, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,
Ephesians 3:16-19 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, read more
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