Originally Posted On June 20, 2012
What is aerobic training? Aerobic training is low to moderate intensity exercise where your heart rate is maintained throughout the duration of the workout. More than likely it is what most people are doing on the exercise machines at your local gym. It is considered aerobic because your body is utilizing oxygen throughout the workout (because of the low intensity and the duration- greater than 2 min).
Unfortunately, aerobic training seems to have more negative effects than positive. First off, aerobics train the nervous system and musculature system to become slow (not good if you want to become explosive, faster, or increase power) and very efficient at using and storing fat since the predominant fuel source in aerobic exercise is fat.
The body is very adaptive. The more efficient your body becomes at burning and storing fat, the lower your metabolism will be, which is not a good thing! What used to take 30 minutes on the cardio equipment to burn 300 calories will soon take 40, 45, then 50 minutes. Look around at the people on the cardio machines at your local gym. How many of them have seen changes in their physiques other than when they first started? What about those who run in races anywhere from 5K’s to marathons? Have you ever noticed that over half of the runners are overweight as they cross the finish line?
On the other hand, look at gymnasts or sprinters. Gymnasts never do aerobics, yet arguably have the best physiques out of all the groups of athletes. Their training consists of explosive high intensity bouts of exercise, often with just their own bodyweight. Sprinters have less body-fat and do slim to zero continuous aerobic work where marathon runners do an insane number of miles per week.
There is a reason why aerobic athletes, especially marathon runners are the most injured group of athletes. Every time the foot strikes the ground, 3-5 times the body weight is applied in force up through the skeletal system. The stress hormone, cortisol, is also produced in large amounts when the body is constantly performing aerobics. Cortisol is essential to the human body, but high amounts will cause the accumulation of body fat, most visibly around the mid-section. (More negatives to high amounts of cortisol will be in the next post!)
You may ask, but what about the people who lose a lot of weight from an aerobics program? Well most likely they would have lost weight doing any form of activity that got them out of their sedentary lifestyle. Something is better than nothing and aerobics are a great place to start for a beginner. Better results can also be seen if strength training is done instead, or in addition to the aerobic training. You also need to take note of the body composition that is being lost. If you are just performing cardio, your muscle is being used as a fuel source as well, so it is common for people to lose tons of weight but are still a fatter, smaller version of their former self.
You could also argue that there are figure competitor and bodybuilders that look great and do hours of aerobic cardio and it seems to work for them. Well there are many components that play into their physiques:
They are following a strict diet, so yes, they will lose weight and look good due to the muscle mass they have been training for months to put on.
By doing tons of aerobic cardio, they are losing precious muscle that could result in coming in too small at competition time, or it could be the reason why they aren’t loosing that last bit of fat.
They are also lifting weights which does help combat some of the negative effects of aerobic training and hopefully they are integrating intervals into their workout plan as well, not constant aerobic exercise.
All of that aerobic work increases the likelihood of gaining a ton of weight post-show due to creating an efficient “fat storing machine”.
Next Posts: Top 5 Reasons You Shouldn’t be Doing Aerobic Training
How to Combat the Negative Effects of Aerobic Training
Referenced Article: The Aerobic Fallacy (few others as well but I will post them with my future posts)