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Here We Go Again! Why Aerobics AREN’T Better Than Weights


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Will this fitness myth ever die?

An 8-month study reported by USA Today, and published in the American Journal Of Physiology, suggests that for individuals looking to lose belly fat, aerobic exercise is more effective than weight training.

The findings were based on comparing results from two groups; one running 12 miles per week at 80% max heart rate, the other performing three sets of 8-12 repetitions of strength training, 3 times per week. The intensity level, or the weights used, in the strength group was not disclosed.

Oh boy! Where do I begin with this misleading “study”?

First, jogging 12 miles per week of course burns more calories than 3 sets of weight training, 3 days per week. In deconditioned individuals, 12 miles of jogging would most likely amount to a minimum of 2 hours of exercise (assuming a 10 minute mile), versus what, a mere 15 minutes of weight training per week? I mean come on, how long does it take to perform 3 sets of 8–12 reps? That’s hardly a comparison to make such a bold statement with, and anyone with half a brain would know the jogging group would have better results and burn more calories.

The aerobic group significantly reduced their visceral and liver fat and improved risk factors for heart disease and diabetes, such as insulin resistance, liver enzymes and triglyceride levels. And the study goes on to say that the resistance group didn’t get the same benefit. Well, no kidding, they barely moved a muscle – literally! A much more fair comparison would have been having both groups exercising for equal time, with the same intensity level.

The fact is that strength training IS cardiovascular when performed correctly, and in some cases will burn more calories and elevate your metabolism more than just jogging. Interestingly I’m also curious how the findings make it sound as though the participants lost belly fat only. I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen more people running with beer guts than I can count. And last I checked, no form of exercise spot reduces fat on any part of the body.

This all truly pisses me off. Why? Because lead author and exercise physiologist Cris Slentz says, “Resistance training is great for improving strength and increasing lean body mass. But if you are overweight, which two-thirds of the population is, and you want to lose belly fat, aerobic exercise is the better choice because it burns more calories.” The researchers found aerobic exercise burned 67 percent more calories than resistance training. What a bunch of crap! The aerobic group exercised at least 6 times longer! I’m afraid overweight individuals will read this report and jump on the cardio bandwagon, and that’s a mistake. I’ve seen it for years; people who try to lose weight with running, biking, or aerobic only routines end up looking frail, pear shaped and losing a ton of muscle mass.

Any successful health and fitness program will have aerobic AND strength training components. The main difference is that strength training has what I call “crossover” benefits, meaning that if you circuit train with weights, you’ll a) increase your muscle mass and strength, and b) you’ll also condition your cardiovascular system. But when you focus solely on aerobic exercise, you’ll benefit your cardiovascular system and not much else. When performed correctly, and with the right intensity, weight training clearly provides more benefits than aerobic only exercise.

For the life of me I don’t know who funds these studies or allows misleading headlines to be published. Please, if you need to lose weight, include weight training as part of your program. To not do so, would be a huge mistake.


7 comments on “Here We Go Again! Why Aerobics AREN’T Better Than Weights

  1. just like you said, it’s obvious that they couldn’t get the same results… that’s just silly! I’m not really into cardio based sports but I do HIIT and I’ve gotten so much more toned in the last few months. of course I’ve also changed my diet. another point that was not mentioned… *shaking head*

  2. It’s so much more than that to get really lean…it’s the whole lifestyle..Your diet is critically important also,your exercise had to be in the right place, not to overtrain,to be ready for another session in 24-48 hours usually.Your psychology is the number one though…If you can’t stick to it all from a reason or another you will fail in the pursuit of leaness…It takes hard work!!And something to fill up your willpower to keep going…If you are doing something that you dislike it will not work for you.Because you willgive up.That’s why you should find an activity that brings you joy…that will fill up your willpower tanks also…:)

  3. Yes! I caught an article on Youbeauty.com (geared towards women) that basically said “Don’t pick up those BIG HEAVY weights… just use those tiny light ones for 2 or almost 3 times as many reps to get results. (link: http://www.youbeauty.com/body-fitness/build-muscle-without-heavy-weights)

    It really pissed me off because the study it discussed literally took one group of people doing ONE set of 8-12 reps at 80% max per day, 3-a-week, one group doing THREE sets of 8-12 reps at 80% max, same, and the last group doing THREE sets of 25-30 reps at 30% max and said the “last two groups saw equal muscle mass gains” while the first did not.

    Well, uh, no crap they didn’t see as many gains, they were doing literally a THIRD of what the 2nd group doing the same amount of weight!!!!

    All I could think was they set this study up on purpose in such a way so they could tell women it was okay to lift tiny weights a whole lot. Yeah, it’s perfectly okay to tell today’s busy-career-mother-multi-tasking-to-death woman to spend nearly 3 times as much time at the gym.

    Know what, it is though. Because that’s what they want to hear.

    Anyway, I appreciate the way you see through bullsh*t!

  4. Weights make it happen! I tried strictly doing Cardio, excluding weights, bonked! Hit a plateau. Went back to my tried and true P90x, lost weight again. Weight training is a necessity! High intensity intervals along with hitting those weights will get you success!

  5. I used to do cardio only and the “weight” dropped off. Of course, after a while I bored of it started eating again and the weight piled on after a few catastrophic life events. I took a new approach and do mainly weigh training, but I do sprints, crunches inbetween sets and boy it works! My body now has shape and although progress is slow my fat is dropping (i do not weigh myself anymore) I sweat like niagra falls during my weight workouts (because I push myself and lift heavier weights) and my heart rate elavates someone. This report is codswhallop!

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