Jogging is the worst way to get fit, especially lose weight.
If you want to get into shape, skip the 10K training and sprint (but don’t jog) to the weights room.
Running is a bad way to lose fat and an inferior way to boost cardiovascular health, but it’s somehow become the most popular exercise on Earth after walking.
That’s not good, because it’s inferior to other things. There’s a reason that up to 79 percent of runners get sidelined with an injury at least once per year.
It’s an incredibly in-efficient way to build strength.
And as we all know, a strong body is the number one way to prevent injuries, speed up your metabolism, burn fat, and stay mobile and functional as you get older.
Statistically speaking, running is the go to exercise if you’re interested in staying healthy.
Sure, it seems like a “natural” exercise. But running at a mid, not-too-hard, not-too-easy pace for an extended period of time isn’t some timeless, eternal movement pattern in which our bodies thrive. It was really only popularised as a “palliative to being sedentary” in the 1960s, and while any movement is usually better than none, running fails almost every test of a worthy exercise.
There are two main reasons that people run, and the most popular is fat loss: People ‘do cardio’ because they want to burn off their jiggly bits.
Well, running is a bad choice.
That’s usually what the mentality is, that it’s a way to get leaner and lose weight, but doing other things outside of running will probably have a better effect at boosting that result.
These other things are compound strength exercises.
That means multi-joint movements like the squat, lunges, dead lift, Military press, pull-ups, press-ups, dips etc.
For cardio lovers, I suggest reducing rest periods or stringing together several exercises in a “circuit” in order to keep the heart rate up and improve cardio respiratory capacity. That way, you’ll be puffing and panting as though you were
running, but you get more benefits because you’re actually challenging your muscles against resistance, which will burn more calories, promote a lot more fat loss, and speed up your metabolism.
This isn’t my opinion by the way, it’s fact:
Studies have consistently shown that weight training and sprinting are more effective than jogging at targeting belly fat and creating a good hormonal environment for fat loss, meaning better insulin sensitivity, less of the stress hormone cortisol, and more growth hormone and testosterone. (Yes, that’s good for women, too.)
A 2008 study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, for example, split up 27 obese women into 3 groups:
One group did low-intensity running five days per week.
The second did high-intensity sprints for just three days per week.
The last controlled group was instructed to not exercise at all.
After a solid 16 weeks of training, the results were undeniable:
The sprinters lost significant amounts of abdominal and thigh fat, and while the low-intensity group did improve their aerobic fitness, their body fat levels didn’t budge any more than the group that were sedentary.
The other main goal of running is improving cardiovascular fitness.
In fact, if you believe some polls, that’s the most common reason people exercise.
Looking good and lean is just a happy, unintended consequence. Yeah right!
And while it’s true that exertion improves heart health and cardio respiratory capacity, and jogging does fall into that category, jogging is too mediocre to be a particularly effective method of doing so.
Just like curling a weight a hundred times won’t boost strength as well as a small number of heavier sets does, exercising the heart at a higher intensity is a better way to get the job done.
Studies have shown that shorter sessions of anaerobic training, like fast-paced resistance training or sprints, are just as good for heart health as long, drawn-out runs and better at maintaining muscle and increasing aerobic fitness (or VO2 max, if you want to be specific).
A 15 week long study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research even found that people who did just 10 sets of 10 second 100% effort sprints on a stationary bike did a better job of improving endurance and power output than medium-intensity workouts that lasted 20 to 25 minutes.
Remember, running is only good for “cardio” because it makes you breathe hard, but there are endless ways to do that in a fraction of the time.
If you’re like most people that I see jogging that are simply looking to get fit and look better then just be clear you’re not doing the best form of exercise to achieve your goals.
If you don’t want to give up jogging that’s fine, I would just say do it faster.
In many ways, sprinting is safer than jogging.
The average person has a lot of muscle imbalances, where muscles on one side of the joint are weaker than muscles on the other side of the joint, so it’s really not the best idea to hammer away at them with long, endurance style running where you’re taking, like, 10,000 strides over a 30 minute run.
That leads to chronic pain and imbalances, while sprinting with good form remedies the problems of jogging in multiple ways:
You take fewer strides overall (so it has less impact on the joints), you move more efficiently, you use more muscles in the body and it recruits more fast-twitch muscle fibres, which are more involved with building strength and power.
Fast-twitch muscle fibres will help keep your joints bolstered and strong, so it’s just a better choice overall I say.
Plus, you’re going to have more of a fat loss effect from sprinting for the same reasons you get it from weights: You’re doing things that require strength, explosiveness, exertion, and intensity, so your muscles are going to have to work a little bit harder, they’re going to burn more calories, and you’re going to be more metabolic after you finish your workout as well.
That means you continue burning extra calories long after you’ve finished exercising.
The benefits for producing maximum aerobic work production, fat loss, or strength development are indeed less than sprint work.
However, in my opinion, an easy, low-intensity jog can put less stress on the tendons than the high-intensity kind.
In my mind, the really notable benefit of high intensity exercise lies in the hormonal benefits.
Sprints increase testosterone, growth hormone, and thyroid hormone production compared to low intensity continuous training (LICT)
The first two hormones have a powerful effect on fat loss and muscle gain (toning effect for women), which is a big reason why sprints win the body-composition game.
Which body would you prefer? ^
If you really prefer endurance-style exercise, you’ll still achieve longer-term health benefits by relying on movement patterns that strengthen and protect the most vulnerable parts of your body.
That’s not jogging though. It’s bad for joint health and bad for strength gains and, remember, being more resistant to injury is a really important benefit of being strong, particularly as you age.
If you don’t like jogging or running, you don’t have to do it to get the cardio benefits you’re after.
You could use a rowing machine, swing a kettlebell, ride a bike hard or lift weights.
Aiming for, say, ten kilometres in forty minutes on a rowing machine or a 500-kettlebell swing workout are goals that can satisfy that craving for long, gut-busting endurance workouts without causing as much joint damage. Plus you’ll gain better posture, a stronger core, and a healthier back.
In my mind the only reason to jog is if you LOVE it or you are training for a marathon or endurance run of some kind.
But…you should still be doing strength training alongside your jogging.
By doing so, you’ll burn more fat, improve your heart health, and have better mobility, balance, and flexibility all the way into old age, plus at least you will reduce your risk of injury.
Isn’t that the point of exercise in the first place?