What Comes First: Cardio or Weights? Workout Myths and Exercise Science (Book Summary)

My boyfriend and I finally joined a gym. We’ve been following YouTube videos and online programs long enough and wanted access to more equipment. Plus, getting out of the apartment together and doing something positive for ourselves is feeling great.

Of course, the first thing I’ve done is get a ton of books on exercise science from the library. What Comes First: Cardio or Weights? by Alex Hutchinson appealed to me because I feel like I have a lot of knowledge, I’m just not certain what’s really true.

A few points I learned:

  • First of all, the answer to the title: start with the most important activity – if they are equal, mix it up.
  • High-intensity interval training 7 minutes a week can benefit your body as much as 300 moderate activity like cycling – though, the benefits are mostly from muscles, so endurance is still recommended in the mix to pump the heart.
  • At the same time, more exercise – and more intense exercise – is almost always better: following government guidelines cuts your risk of dying in half, while going further can reduce risk up to 70%.
  • Going too hard, too soon, for too long can cause injury and weaken your immune system.
  • About 20-62% of variation in exercise participation seems to be inherited through personality and physiology, but everyone can reap benefits from exercise.
  • It takes 6 weeks to boost endurance, but health can performance can improve within days, then losses occur after about 2 weeks without training.

More specifically,

  • The differences between running on a treadmill and running outdoors are too small to matter – just set the treadmill to 0.5-1% incline.
  • Weight machines isolate muscles and help keep beginners from making mistakes.
  • Elliptical machines compare to treadmills in the way weight machines compare to free weights – just as good as one another, but different, mainly lower-impact vs. more functional.
  • Aim for 70% aerobic (below 80% of max for 20-60 minutes), 10% anaerobic (above 90% of ma for 0.5-3 minute bursts), and 20% threshold (80-90% of max for surges of 3-10 minutes) – where max heart rate is usually 180-200 bpm for a 30-year old.
  • You likely breathe well naturally for cardio, but may need to focus on exhaling as you lift weights and not holding your breath.
  • Experienced runners naturally learn to take shorter strides so the foot hits the ground below the body, not in front.
  • For 3-4 months, lift weights you can manage for 1-3 sets of 8-12 reps, increasing over time. Work toward something like 4 sets of 20 reps with rests under 90 seconds for endurance. Experiment with variety.
  • You should be unable to lift the weight again when you complete the final set.
  • Strengthen your core (deep abs, lower back, pelvic and hip muscles) with Pilates and functional exercises like hip abductor and flexor.

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Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything? (Book Summary) #celebrities #factsonly

It is biological human nature to compare ourselves socially and, in particular, compare up to emulate, nowadays, celebrities. Find here a summary of some areas identified by Timothy Caulfield where we try to be like celebrities along with some evidence-based guidance on actually achieving underlying goals.


  • Beyonce, Ashton Kutcher, Mindy Kaling, Salma Hayek, and of course Gwyneth Paltrow cleanse to “detox” and, of course, lose weight – perhaps also unconsciously to pay penance for “sinful indulgences”
  • However, our bodies already manage toxins quite well and, besides, drinking green juices doesn’t improve natural detoxing anyway
  • Most cleanses end up restricting calories, which causes stress on the body and mind, usually increasing cortisol and drive to overeat
  • Due to restricted calories, there can be quick weight loss, but few people can maintain the loss by maintaining the cleanse as a new lifestyle, and thus regain the weight
  • While a healthy diet does seem to improve mood and, well, overall health, that’s about eating more fruits and vegetables (about 50% of a daily diet), not eating only vegetables

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Gender Intelligence (Book Summary)

Differences between men and women are naturally designed to complement one another. As a result of differences in hormones and brain structures, women generally gather more information and consider more variations, while men focus and quickly move forward in a linear fashion. Also, “woman’s intuition” leads to picking up small hints more quickly, which, along with richer emotional memories, may also cause greater sensitivity and anxiety in calculating more risk than the average man. Where men compete, women collaborate. Where men demonstrate authority, women demonstrate relationship. Where men are objective or assign blame, women take it personally. Working together, men and women can create more efficient and effective solutions more appropriate for the given problem. Interestingly, research suggests 20% of one sex is hardwired more similarly to the opposite sex.

Balanced, gender-blended teams benefit organizations in many ways beyond expanding the talent pool:

  • Richer collection of perspectives leads to innovation, better decisions, and better results.
  • The more a company represents its customers’ demographics, the better it can respond to their needs.
  • With men and women on opposing ends of continuums, men and women together get the best of both worlds and bring the best leadership traits.

Many studies back this up. For instance, a 19-year study of 215 Fortune 500 companies showed a balance of men and women in leadership correlated with a 34% higher profit margin, 18% higher asset value, and 69% greater stockholder equity. When there are 3+ women on a team, especially, they balance and broaden the conversation rather than simply representing “the woman’s point of view.” In fact, the contribution of women directly correlates with a group’s cooperation, which then accounts for 40% of that group’s collective intelligence – much more so than individual IQ scores.

Men and women alike often cite work-life balance as the primary reason women are underrepresented in senior leadership. This shows up in employee surveys, performance reviews, and exit interviews – either because they fit the male paradigm or are afraid to question it. The real reason, Barbara Annis and Keith Merron posit, is most organizational cultures do not appreciate women’s contributions and self-expression because they are different than the way men tend to think and behave. It’s a culture problem.

Based on surveys of 240,000 leaders, there are many assumptions preventing the blending of male and female input in the workplace:

  • We misunderstand each other when we assume equality means sameness.
  • We blame the victim when we assume women need to fit the man-created work model of speed, efficiency, and clear hierarchy.
  • When we assume men are intentionally excluding women, we miss the opportunity to learn about how we’re perceived by one another.

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