Aerobics vs. Weight Training: How to get the body you want

" Aerobics" does not equal Fitness!

Many people engage in a fitness program because they realize that their physical condition has deteriorated over time as a consequence of a sedentary lifestyle. They want to reverse this process and strive to lose a few pounds of fat, tone their muscles and shape up. Even though many of these people are making a considerable effort to achieve their fitness goals, most of them are not quite satisfied with the results of their exercise regimen.

One major reason for this is that they often are not aware of the fact that there are certain underlying principles regarding exercise and activity; one must be aware of these basic concepts in order to design an optimal exercise program.

People, who mainly want to lose some fat and shape up, often rely too heavily on aerobic types of activities to achieve their fitness goals. An exercise regimen, aimed at achieving a lean, shapely physique and improving general fitness, should, however, be based on a sound weight training program rather than focusing on aerobics.

In order to be most successful, the main focus of a basic weight training session should be on making the major muscle groups, such as thighs, chest and upper back systematically work against gradually progressive resistance, before moving on to train smaller muscle groups such as shoulders, arms and abdominals. Regular systematic weight training, emphasizing the major muscle groups, helps to increase your body's metabolism, which is the best guarantee and long term insurance against regaining lost fat. Cardiovascular activities, performed over prolonged time serve as a beneficial supplement to any weight training and general fitness program, as they are a great means to increase cardio-respiratory efficiency and burn some excess calories, especially when performed after a correctly designed weight training session of appropriate intensity.

The reason that aerobics should be performed after weight training is to ensure that maximum energy is available during the weight training session.

A major misunderstanding is that cardiovascular activity aimed at burning fat should be performed at a low level of intensity (ca. 60% of maximum heart-rate) to be most efficient. In fact, it is just the opposite. You should rather work so hard that you are breathing hard throughout your aerobic activity; the harder you breathe, the more energy you expend and the more fat-calories you burn, because you are doing more work.

Christoph Klueppel

Master of Fitness Sciences
Specialist in Performance Nutrition