One of the biggest problems with many arguments about how people should exercise is a focus on short-term rather than long-term results and on the effects of a single variable while often ignoring many others affected by it. When comparing different exercise methods it is important to consider all of the following:
- Being strong, fit, and healthy should be a lifelong pursuit.
- Any method of exercise can be effective if it is done hard, progressively, and consistently with a reasonable volume and frequency for the individual.
- Not all exercise methods are as efficient, safe, practical, or easy for everyone to adhere to.
Over time the difference in the results that can be produced by different exercise methods gets increasingly smaller, becoming insignificant after a few years. However, the differences in the total time invested, the wear on your body, the risk of injury, and difficulty of adherence continue to get larger over time. While there is a lot of variability in individual goals and how they can effectively train for them (including non-physical exercise goals like stress management), the time factor, risk potential, and adherence should always be considered when designing exercise programs. What do you want out of exercise, and what are you willing to do in exchange for it?
If two or more methods produce the same results over time but vary in the risk of acute and overuse injuries, choose the safer one.
If two or more methods produce the same results over time and are equally safe but vary in the volume and frequenty required, choose the more time efficient one (unless you value spending time in the gym as much as or more than the physical benefits of exercise).
If two or more methods produce the same results over time and are equally safe and efficient but vary in practicality or ease of adherence, choose the one you will be more likely to adhere to for the long run.