last comment: 19/03/08

What Sport to Choose?

I have been writing a bit about this matter before, but during the past half year I gained a few insights which hopefully will sum things up a bit.

You may know already that I'm a 'strong girl'. However, since I met a few 'fast girls' I understood more their incentive. In 'Being Strong' and 'Why Muscles' I mainly took my point of view on the whole sport business. In 'Being Fit' I tried to figure out how to incorporate fitness into the muscle sport, thus still looking from my end of the spectrum.

Now that I learned more about the endurance end from the running ladies, started rowing and running myself, and found Claire as a training partner for the weights, I managed to detach myself a bit and to find a more independent view onto the whole sport scene.

Let's approach the matter from looking at what you want to achieve by doing sport. The first question to answer would be:

What do you want from sport?

I for starters wanted to look better quickly, and I wanted to be able to get up some stairs without huffing and puffing and to do my DIY and gardening without moaning - and if sport would help to get rid of the back pain, the better it would be.

Some of you might think about a special holiday like a hiking tour, or you might admire people who bike from London to Paris or across the US, or who run marathon - and you are dreaming about being just a little bit like them.

Or you might be just worried about certain pain popping up here and there, and what to do during and after menopause to avoid osteoporosis. Well, and some of you might just want to find a bit of peace of mind, or want to get rid of aggression that sometimes job and family manage to build up in us.

So the incentive can be as manifold as polishing the surface, health issues, coping in daily life situations or preparing for a special task.

The next thing to focus on is the issues evolving around sport which we hate. So the second question is:

What do you hate when doing sport?

This might be the way to get there, or the grooming you have to do before and/or after - I'm especially thinking of swimming here, or it could be environmental conditions like weather, air-conditioning, music or smells. It may be that you don't like to be dependent on others, or it could just be the way you feel during and after. The sweating, the pounding head, the exhaustion, the muscle pain.

Thus the things that might keep you from doing a certain kind of sport may be the overhead activity needed, the local environment, the social environment or your own body.

To give you an example: I love swimming, I really do. And when I was a teenager I did it regularly and was really good at it. Now: winter feet, hairy legs and more - given that is all sorted: Packing the bag! I'm rather organised, but there is always something missing - probably due to the Creams and Ointments factor of old age. The swimming is fine and then the real hassle sets in. I have a shower and as soon as I'm dried off I break into sweat. The changing room that appeared too cold at first has changed into the vestibule of hell. I cant see properly so the glasses go onto the nose, damned forgot to cream the face, damned that's the one thing missing - ok, bodylotion it is for today! Socks go on, damned again stepped into something wet. Trousers won't go on due to dampness of the sweat attack. Long wet hair gets stuck on my back inside the shirt - Eiiiik: of course the towel came off when I put on the shirt and where the heck are the glasses gone?...

By the time I leave the changing room I'm not knackered from the swimming but the organisational overhead. I hate it so much that I probably go to the pool twice a year, if at all.

So the task is to find the sport that gives you the benefit you are after and avoids the things you hate the most.

There is only one thing that doesn't count:

There is no:

"Hate to get my bum up"


I truly believe that there is a sport for everybody. So the next question needs to be answered:

What is your starting point?

Too thin, too fat, too breathless, fit but change/challenge needed, fit but not fit enough?

Now comes the technical bit of the article. But there is no way around one of my lists. Well, it's actually not as difficult as it sounds. Have a look in the 'Recommended for' line and see if that is you, see if it does for you what you want it to do, look at the list of exercises - which gives just an idea, though. There are too many to cover it all - and see if something turns you on.

So let's have a look on what sorts of sport there are:

Strength Training

That means the strength of muscles which are carried on the boney structure of the body. It is carried out using weights which get increased the stronger you become.

It builds:

basic fitness, round muscles

It is good for:

posture, reducing pain due to poor posture, building strength, boosting the power of mind, avoiding osteoporosis, boosting the metabolism.


standard body building

Suitable for:

everybody, as there is a huge variety of exercises with which very specific training plans can be developed.

Recommended for:

unfit, overweight, too thin, people who like muscles, people who want quick results


very little sweating compared to endurance exercises

Cardio-Vascular training

There are two types of cardio-vascular training: fitness training and endurance training.

This distinction between fitness and endurance might not be appreciated in the professional trainer world, but I found that it works very well. Usually fitness and endurance are used as if they meant the same. However, strength and endurance contradict each other, and that would mean that strong people couldn't be fit. And that is not true.

Fitness is measured on how quickly your heart rate goes up when you do cardio exercises, at which level it stays and how quickly it comes down again when you rest. Strong people can show the same fitness levels like endurance athletes.

To give you an example: You probably would say that a 100m sprinter who won the Olympics is rather fit. They usually can do the 200m as well, on the 400m they die. They have big round muscles because they need the power for a short burst of energy.

They are as fit as a marathon runner, who has long slim muscles in order not to carry a lot of weight. They never could run the 100m as fast as the sprinter.

Fitness Training

What means training of the heart muscle by excluding any endurance aspect.

It builds:

an efficient heart muscle to accommodate changes due to exposure to stress, regulated by blood pressure and heart rate.

It is good for:

cardio-vascular system


best on gym machines. Running, biking, rowing in several short exhaustive bursts of not more than a minute with short breaks inbetween.

Recommended for:

bodybuilders, people with basic fitness who want quick results, people who don't have a lot of time.


It is a very short training, usually not longer than 15 minutes.

Endurance Training - high impact

That means the endurance of the heart and the muscles which are carried on the boney structure of the body. It is everything that makes you sweat.

It builds:

a highly efficient heart muscle to accommodate changes due to exposure to stress, regulated by blood pressure and heart rate, and long muscles

It is good for:

cardio-vascular system, toning of the muscles, stress management


running, biking, rowing, cross-trainer, skipping, circuit training, aerobic classes, team sport, boxing.... the list is endless.

Recommended for:

people with basic fitness

Endurance Training - low impact

That means the endurance of the heart, and the muscles which are carried on the bone structure of the body. However, the exercises are carried out on about 60-80% of what is possible to enhance the fat burning effect what reduces the training effect on the heart muscle. These exercises have low impact on the joints

It builds:

an efficient heart muscle to accommodate changes due to exposure to stress, regulated by blood pressure and heart rate, and long muscles

It is good for:

cardio-vascular system, toning of the muscles


power walking instead of running, biking, rowing, cross-trainer

Recommended for:

beginners, overweight


Those are the exercises which have an endurance effect and a strength effect at the same time.

It builds:

an efficient heart muscle to accommodate changes due to exposure to stress, regulated by blood pressure and heart rate, round not too big muscles

It is good for:

cardio-vascular system, resistance of the muscles


rowing, boxing

Recommended for:

bodybuilder who want to develop a bit more stamina, endurance athletes who want a rounder shape

Body and Mind training

That is everything that uses certain postures and breathing techniques to bring body and mind together

It builds:

basic fitness, a toned body, enhanced balance

It is good for:

cardio-vascular system, peace of mind, muscle tonus


yoga, tai-chi, pilates, belly dancing

Recommended for:


I hope that there is something in my list that catches your eye and if you have questions or comments please drop me a line.

Happy Workout!

Articles on Training

Norwich Half Marathon 08
Race for Life 2008
Rowing League 07/08
Imola: MH 10K, 07
Rika: Race for Life 07

Ballet for Oldies
Training Plan 2008
Boxing vs. Kickboxing
What Sport to Choose?
An Experiment
Good Use for Chocolate

Being Strong
Women and Strength?
Why Muscles?
Lucky Number 12
Ladies are Stronger!

Being Fit
Rowing - Fantastic Sport

Back to Top
Copyright 2007
Author: Rika