As a trainer, I often get this question: don't I need to do long duration aerobic training to burn fat? The answer is (drum roll please) both aerobic (low intensity) training and anaerobic (high intensity) training will do the trick. In fact, if you really want to burn fat, include BOTH in your routine. Let's look at why: The word aerobic means in the presence of oxygen. Activities performed at low to moderate intensity for around 90 seconds allow oxygen to be used to generate energy for the muscles. An example of this would be brisk walking, slow running or, for us weight lifting aficionados, very low weight high repetition exercises.
Anaerobic activity is any activity where the body does not use oxygen to generate energy. The body uses different metabolic pathways (which I won't bore you with the specifics here) to react to this activity. Anaerobic activities tend to be short duration, burst of activity things where the body just doesn't have time to circulate oxygen to the muscles (less than 90 seconds).
Sprints and very heavy low repetition weight lifting are examples of anaerobic exercises. The benefits of aerobic activity: Increased cardiovascular endurance Decreased body fat The liabilities are: Decreased muscle mass Decreased speed Decreased power Here's the rub, when the body uses fat for energy it also breaks down muscle. Since muscle cells burn energy and fat cells store it, you need muscle to use energy that would otherwise be stored as fat! Now, anaerobic training, the kind where you push yourself hard for short periods of time, uses a different metabolic system to supply the muscles with energy, which trains the body to respond in a different way to exercise. The benefits of Anaerobic Training are: Increased Cardiovascular Capacity Increased Cardiovascular Recovery Ability Strength Gains Power Gains Improved Speed Decreased Body Fat The liabilities: Increased Risk of Injury in Untrained People Requires a Good Aerobic Foundation When we look at all of the elements of fitness, which include: Endurance Strength Flexibility Power Speed Agility Balance It's easy to see why a combination of aerobic and aerobic training will do the most for your fitness level.
And, since both aerobic and anaerobic training burn fat (anaerobic training actually yields the most post workout fat burning), the combining the two in your routine will burn fat and maintain muscle. Not only will you burn fat faster, you will keep the fat off and won't be bored in the process! Sources: "Aerobic vs Anaerobic, What's the Controversy About?" Eddie Lomax. http://www.boeafitness.
com/articles/exerciseandweighttraining/2006_01_10_4010.php International Fitness Professionals Association, "Personal Fitness Training Manual". Copyright (c) 2008 Ainsley Laing.
About the Author: Ainsley Laing, MSc. has been a Fitness Trainer for 27 years and writes exclusively Body for Mind eZine. She holds certifications in Group Exercise, Sports Nutrition and Personal Fitness Training. She is also a professional engineer and mom. To see more articles by Ainsley visit http://www.bodyformind.com or the blog at http://www.bodyformind.blogspot.com