Weight-Lifting, Good Idea?
Gina Kolata of The New York Times asks the question, “Does Weight Lifting Make a Better Athlete?” Good question, let’s find out. Here’s some of the report:
Researchers who study weight lifting, or resistance training as it often is called, are adamant. It definitely helps, they say. But other experts in the field are not so sure.Actually, my Yoga teacher tells the class not to lift weights and that weight-lifting strains the body and is not harmonious—I’m warming to this opinion—but I haven’t stopped lifting yet.
Gary R. Hunter, a professor of exercise physiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, is a believer. He cites, for example, a recent study involving middle-distance runners. Three months of resistance training, he said, improved their leg strength and running efficiency, a measure of how much effort it took to run.
And, he said, it is not just runners who become more efficient.
“There is no doubt that an appropriate weight-training program would improve efficiency in pretty much any athlete,” Dr. Hunter said.
William J. Kraemer, a kinesiology professor at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, said lifting weights also can increase endurance and reduce the risk of injury, especially to connective tissue…
…But other researchers, like Patrick O’Connor, an exercise scientist at the University of Georgia, are not convinced.
Dr. O’Connor points out that the weight-lifting studies, as is typical in exercise science, are small. And each seems to examine a different regimen, to measure outcome differently and to study different subjects — trained athletes, sedentary people, recreational athletes. It becomes almost impossible to draw conclusions, he said.
That may be one reason why different athletes end up doing different weight-lifting exercises. Chris Martin, a 31-year-old chemical engineer who has an elite racing license from USA Triathlon, the governing body for the sport, works on his entire body. But for his legs, he does exercises like leg extensions using one leg at a time, to correct any muscle imbalances or weaknesses. Mr. Martin, who lives in Lawrenceville, N.J., said he got the idea from coaches and from his own reading.
“Cycling and running are one-leg-at-a-time activities,” he explained. And one-legged exercises “recruit more muscles that help the hips.”
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