A Sensible Approach to Aerobic Training

What You Should Know to Get the Most Out of Energy System Training

By Strength Sensei CP

Publication Date: 2008


A fit person should consider walking a leisurely activity, but not as a way to rapidly improve body composition. For the obese, walking is the aerobic exercise of choice because it is low impact and increases caloric output without stressing the adrenals.

Although weight training is the fastest way to lose bodyfat, an obese individual can engage in low-intensity aerobic work to initiate fat loss. Once they have completed eight weeks of aerobic work (and if they still like doing aerobics), they should move to interval training protocols that increase workout intensity. For example, an obese individual could go to a school track and perform an interval system of walking the curves and jogging the straight portions of the track. Over time, that jog could turn into a run, and that run into a sprint.

I recommend change in all types of workouts, whether it’s weight training or energy system training, because the body adapts to what you give it. I’d never give someone the same resistance training exercises week after week, month after month, yet people believe they must spend countless hours of steady-state cardio to achieve results. Look around the cardio section in the gym. I’ll bet that as you continue to go to that gym, you’ll see the same people week after week, not looking any better and bored out of their minds. There is research to support my opinion.

One study found that the aerobics instructors who taught the most classes also had the highest bodyfat percentage (over 24 percent). Such research and my observations inspired me to come up with the term, “The Chunky Aerobics Instructor Syndrome.” Further, aerobic training also produces a high level of free radicals associated with negative health consequences. The antioxidants in food neutralize free radicals, but excessive aerobic exercise produces such high levels of free radicals the body cannot neutralize them adequately.

To prevent free radical damage, do not perform more than five aerobic workouts per week. Performing more than five aerobic workouts a week may suppress your immune system, and you’ll end up missing workouts because of mild infections. I also recommend taking a broad-base blend of antioxidants to offset the oxidative stress associated with aerobic work.

Finally, for those who want to combine weight training with aerobics, perform the aerobics after lifting weights, not before. Doing aerobics before weights lowers your blood pH because of an elevation in lactate levels, causing the blood to become more acidic. In turn, this condition reduces your ability to recruit high-threshold motor units, which hampers your strength gains. In other words, if you do cardio before weights, you’ll be pumping iron with those pastel-colored dumbbells to the left of the dumbbell rack (I suggest you start with the pink dumbbells and move on up to green!).

If you like aerobic training and want to do it as a leisurely activity, fine. But if you’re serious about losing fat in a hurry, consider that too much aerobic training will compromise your ability to gain muscle mass. The more muscle you have, the more yourbasal metabolic rate (i.e., calories burned during rest) increases. That means when you’re lounging around or sleeping, you’ll burn calories because you’ll have more active tissue (muscle). Muscle is the only tissue that burns calories, and you need more of it to lean out.

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