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Which is Best to Lose Weight: Aerobic Training or Weight Training?

WeightsCardiovascular (aerobic) versus weight training (anaerobic) to lose weight. Which one is best?

What a great question! I’m glad you asked, because one form of exercise is not ‘better’ than the other. We only need to reframe it slightly and ask “Which form of exercise is more appropriate for me?” Now we’re on the right track!

First, let’s look at a certain friend of mine (she knows who she is:-) who hasn’t exercised for some time. You’d be right to conclude she is overweight. She also smokes, which means that her lung capacity is low (I’m being polite). So although she wants to lose weight she is definitely not ready for weight training, and here’s why…

You see, since her level of fitness is practically non-existent, it would be both dangerous and pointless for her to ‘run before she can walk’ so to speak. She needs a cardiovascular or ‘fitness building’ program, so that she can build up her heart and lung function to a point where she’s reasonably fit (by that I mean at least 70 or 80 percent fit). This way, she will have built a good foundation to benefit from weight training.

So the best way for her to lose weight is to improve fitness level first?

Yes! Absolutely. If she persists with cardiovascular training for a few weeks, she will kick start her metabolism and eventually reach the desired level of fitness for weight training to tone muscle and speed up the fat burning process. Not one better than the other – just one more appropriate, depending on how fit you are in the first place.

So what about people who are already fairly fit and go to the gym. Should they focus purely on weight training?

The answer to that would depend on their lifestyle and what they are trying to achieve. Generally, I would advise cycling both disciplines (aerobic and anaerobic) in your training program; with one caveat: never practice both disciplines in the same workout, because you confuse your muscle fibres by one moment running, cycling or rowing and the next moment bench pressing and squatting or whatever… your muscle fibres are saying, “Hang on a second. What’s going on here? What are you trying to do? Are you trying to stretch me or build me? Make up your mind!”

Ideally, you could go on a weight training program for six to eight weeks at a stretch (because you’re at a level where you don’t have to worry about cardiovascular fitness). And then cycle your training again and do a week (or two) of cardiovascular training to boost your fitness levels so they come back to a reasonable level (or at least the one you were accustomed to before you started the weight training program).

Just remember, the key to getting positive results from weight training lies in your ability to recover between sessions. The fitter you are, the quicker you will recover.

Can I get your advice about the best program for me?

Absolutely. Come in and speak to me, Agnelo; I don’t bite! Call Prana (08) 9316 1553.