Exercise is a well-known tool for helping to prevent type 2 diabetes, but typically the focus is on aerobic exercise.
While this certainly has its place, especially in the form of high-intensity interval training, another form of beneficial exercise is often overlooked: strength training.
Men who engage in regular strength training slash their type 2 diabetes risk, and the benefit increases with the amount of strength training per week, according to new research.1 For instance:
Weight training reduced diabetes risk independent of aerobic exercise. But when the strength training was combined with aerobic exercise, the benefit grew even more, with men engaging in more than 150 minutes of aerobic exercise and at least 150 minutes of strength training per week experiencing a 59 percent reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.
And the news gets even better. Among men already diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, a second study revealed that regular physical activity could extend their lifespan. Even moderately active men with diabetes had a 38 percent lower risk of dying from any cause, and a 49 percent lower risk of dying from heart disease, than sedentary men.2
There is no doubt that building your muscle mass with strength training should be one of the goals of your fitness routine. It's even been found to lower your cancer risk by 40 percent,3 in addition to the diabetes benefits mentioned above. As far as exercise for diabetes goes, it works so well because it is one of the fastest and most powerful ways to lower your insulin and leptin resistance. If you have type 2 diabetes, or want to prevent it, you need to address the root of the problem, which is NOT your blood sugar levels, as most conventional physicians would have you believe.
As Dr. Ron Rosedale wrote in this classic article, if you follow the misguided belief that diabetes is a disease of blood sugar, you are likely destined for premature death. Taking insulin is one of the WORST things you can do, as it will actually make your insulin and leptin resistance worse over time. Dr. Rosedale, an expert on leptin physiology and one of my early mentors in this area, developed the appropriate acronym -- D.I.E. -- to illustrate what's happening in conventional diabetic treatment.
Yes, most doctors make diabetes worse and accelerate the death process. I've explained the mechanics of insulin resistance and the role of leptin and insulin before, but let's review it again.
Exercise is one of the most effective ways to regain insulin sensitivity and reverse insulin resistance -- and this is true for both high-intensity aerobic andstrength training workouts.
Research over the past several years has really revolutionized the way we look at exercise. Not only have researchers found that traditional aerobic exercise is one of the least effective forms of exercise, it's also one of the most time consuming, and could even be counterproductive. You're really getting the least amount of bang for your buck when you spend extended amounts of time running on a treadmill.
High-intensity interval training such as Peak Fitness, on the other hand, has consistently risen to the top as the most effective and efficient form of exercise. While the fitness industry divides exercise into categories such as anaerobic, aerobic and cardiovascular training, fitness experts like Dr. Doug McGuff andPhil Campbell point out that in order to actually access your cardiovascular system, you have to perform mechanical work with your muscle—and can do that on an elliptical machine, on weight training equipment, or using free-weights. So truly, weight training isn't just strength training, it's a cardiovascular workout.
To better understand this, you need to know that your heart has two different metabolic processes:
Traditional strength training and cardio exercises work primarily the aerobic process. High-intensity interval training, such as Peak Fitness, on the other hand, work your aerobic AND your anaerobic processes, which is what you need for optimal cardiovascular benefits. You're actually getting MORE benefits from high-intensity training than you do from aerobic/cardio, in a fraction of the time—all because you're utilizing your body as it was designed to be used.
Even more astounding, according to Dr. McGuff you only need 12 minutes of Super-Slow type strength training once a weekto achieve many of the same benefits as you would with Peak Fitness!
There are many different ways you can go about lifting weights, but one version that seems to work well for many people is called Super-Slow Weight Training. By slowing everything down, you're actually turning it into a high-intensity exercise. The super-slow movement allows your muscle, at the microscopic level, to access the maximum number of cross-bridges between the protein filaments that produce movement in the muscle.
I recommend using four or five basic compound movements for your exercise set. One sample set could be:
These exercises can be done using either free weights or machines. The benefit of using a quality machine is that it will allow you to focus your mind on the effort, as opposed to on the movement. Select a weight that is light enough so you can do at least eight repetitions, but heavy enough so you can't do more than 12. If you can squeeze out more than a dozen reps, then switch to a heavier weight.
Here's a general summary of how to perform each exercise:
This workout will take no more than 12 or 15 minutes. For a demonstration, please see the video below. Please note that I am NOT demonstrating classic Super-Slow training, but rather hybrid version that uses a count of four rather than the standard ten-count, which is still far slower than most people lift weights.
This may surprise you, but one in four Americans has some form of diabetes or pre-diabetes. But you don't have to become one of them. Even if you've already been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, there's still hope. As mentioned earlier, to reverse the disease, you need to recover your body's insulin and leptin sensitivities, and the best way to accomplish this is through proper diet and exercise. There is no drug on the market that can correct leptin signaling and insulin resistance.
Adhering to the following guidelines can help you do at least three things that are essential for successfully preventing, treating, or reversing diabetes: recover your insulin/leptin sensitivity, help normalize your weight, and normalize your blood pressure: