Those of you who know me know that I’m not a huge fan of machines. Thus, it’s logical to assume that this post will consist of me bashing the elliptical, stationary bike, stair stepper and treadmill.
But contrary to this seemingly obvious presumption, the cardio workout that I want you to avoid has nothing to do with a machine.
Instead, I’m going to condemn what is perhaps the most popular bodyweight exercise of all time for fat loss and conditioning.
The sacred exercise that I’m referring to is…jogging! On paper, jogging seems to be quite good. It burns calories, raises heart rate and requires no equipment or skill. But there is a dark side to jogging.
In my 19 years in the biz, I have yet to come across a cardio activity that leads to more soft tissue injuries and degenerative changes in the joints of the lower body than jogging. Injuries to the feet, knees and hips are all too common amongst distance runners.
1) The jogging stride is actually more like a shuffling of the feet. There is a very limited range of motion, which leads to chronic tightness and loss of mobility.To counter this, a jogger would have to spend a great deal of time doing mobility and flexibility work.
I’m talking about a one to one ratio here. Yes that’s correct- jog for an hour and then stretch for an hour. In 20 years in the biz, I’ve yet to see a jogger come close to this ratio.
2) Since the speed is relatively slow during jogging, every foot strike leads to a significant amount of vertical impact into the ground. This high level of impact absorption affects the feet, ankles, hips, and knees and can lead to injuries in these areas.
In fact, studies have shown that this impact absorption is greater than three times the impact of power walking at the same speed!
3) Due to the relatively low intensity of jogging, it requires a long duration in order to get an effective (if you even want to call it that) workout. This means that there will be thousands of foot strikes per workout, which will eventually lead to overuse injuries.
Here are the injuries that I see over and over again with jogging:
Common hip injuries- hip bursitis, iliotibial band syndrome (IT Band), hip stress fractures.
Common injuries of the feet- bunion formation, planter fasciitis, overpronation syndrome.
Common knee injuries- chrondomylasia, meniscus damage, patelofemerol syndrome, patellar tendonitis.
Common ankle and leg injuries- stress fractures, shin splints, Achilles tendonitis
If the risk of being tight and injured isn’t enough to inspire you to hang up your jogging kicks, there is one more reason that should convince you to quit this nasty habit.
Jogging severely limits one’s ability to build lean muscle and increase strength and power. In fact, in this regard, jogging is just about the worst cardio exercise out there.
1) Jogging is very difficult to recover from due to its high impact absorption requirement and its inherent eccentric component. This will interfere with your strength training and can lead to overtraining.
2) Jogging raises catabolic hormones. To some degree, all strenuous activity will lead to an elevation of cortisol levels. But a long jog is like taking a bath in this catabolic hormone! This definitely needs to be avoided if strength and lean muscle mass are at all desired.
Okay, let’s summarize. Jogging leads to injuries, tightness, weakness and muscle loss. Pretty nasty, huh? So take my advice: hang up your jogging shoes for good and do some cardio that actually helps you rather than hurts you.
Stay tuned for my next post where I will reveal some of my favorite cardio exercises. These exercises improve conditioning and burn fat without the dreaded downsides of jogging.
Dedicated to your success,