Jen Rulon

It’s Valentine’s Day Weekend! Maybe you will spend it with your loved one, get a Hallmark from Mom, hang with your besties or just do absolutely nothing!

Do your heart a favor this weekend – and lift some weights! We always think about “cardio” for the heart, but how does strength training help the heart?

In the article, “Strength Training for the Heart” by Cedric Bryant and James Peterson, the research states how cardio exercise used to be the best way for cardiac rehabilitation programs to help their patients. Over time, rehabilitation programs started adding strength training. According to the article, strength training has been shown to raise HDL (good cholesterol) and to reduce the risk of a sudden heart attack. In addition, it helps with decreasing musculoskeletal injuries by increasing the thickness and strength of bones, ligaments, and tendons. In another research study that compared both strength training and endurance training versus just endurance training for congestive heart failure, it was found that having a combination of strength training and endurance training was superior than endurance training alone, as it improved “LV function, peak VO2, and strength parameters” for congestive heart failure patients (Delagardelle et al, 2002).

In another research study with Shaw (2006), the research talks about coronary artery disease (CAD) as a cause of death in South Africa and Western society, showing that obesity is one of the biggest factors for CAD. The research studied 28 men. There were two groups; one that did resistance training, and one that did not (control group). The study found “that resistance training significantly changed body mass, percentage of body fat, lean mass, and fat mass” (Shaw, 2006). How does this help the heart? Resistance training improved major body composition and helped decrease CAD risk.

As you can see, not only should triathletes commit to a strength training program to improve their heart function, everyone should be concentrating on strength training at least 2x a week for the heart and to strengthen bones and connective tissues (i.e. tendons and ligaments). Remember that the heart is a muscle; you are taking care of it when you are swimming, cycling, and running, and now you are taking care of it when you strength train.

Not only does strength training help with the “muscles” that you normally think they help, I believe that strength training helps the biggest muscle of all… the heart!

As we are heading into Valentine’s weekend, ask yourself:

How are you taking care of your heart?

  • Physically through endurance training and/or strength training?
  • Mentally by surrounding yourself with strong, positive and good juju people, who support you 100%!
  • Spiritually, by listening to your heart, in quiet time or however you take care of yourself.

Treat yourself with some LOVE this weekend. How do you do that? It starts with YOU!


AUTHOR: Jen Rulon

I have been coaching triathletes, runners, and cyclists for over 21+ years; I received my Master's Degree in Kinesiology with an emphasis in Exercise Science. And as you may have learned, there is more to life than swimming, biking, and running. It is a lifestyle, and I am here to help you cross that finish line with a smile, whether it is an Ironman Triathlon or the Ironman of Life. You can find my knowledge shared in Triathlete Magazine, Runners World, on the TEDx Stage, the Health and Wellness Expo in San Antonio, TX, Southwest Research Institute Human Performance Summit, Training Peaks Workshops, "Self Motivation Strategies for Women" on Amazon, Men's Journal Online, and the New York Times. I also practice what I preach—she's a 15x Ironman Triathlete who participated in the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii, on October 14, 2017.

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