Does Aerobic Exercise Really Work?

Does Aerobic Exercise Really WorkThe answer is, aerobic exercise is almost useless as a weight loss solution.

For many years we were told aerobic exercise is the key to weight loss but countless studies over the past 25 years have shown it’s not as effective as previously believed.

In fact, research has shown that aerobic exercise combined with a calorie restriction diet is only marginally more effective than a diet by itself. The slim improvement in results is definitely not worth the many hours of exertion if fat loss is your goal.

SIDE NOTE: Cardiovascular fitness is extremely important, meaning aerobic exercise is very beneficial to your health, so I’m definitely not saying you shouldn’t do it. I do cardio, but mostly for the benefit of improved cardiovascular fitness, not fat loss.

One hour on a treadmill will only burn about as many calories as you find in a couple pieces of fruit, which isn’t very much.

Pundits of aerobic exercise for weight loss say the real benefit comes from a raised BMR. That is, throughout the day and night your body burns more calories because your metabolism is running faster but studies have shown this also to be untrue.

Even after a 6 month program of aerobic exercise, subjects in one particular study were shown to have no increase in resting metabolic rate (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1999).

Your EPOC from aerobic exercise is also substantially lower than for resistance exercise.

Relying solely on cardio training for fat loss, without including some resistance training can result in fat loss AND muscle loss. So your body composition (ratio of fat to muscle) may remain unchanged.

If you combine aerobic exercise with calorie restriction dieting without including some resistance training you will lose even more muscle mass.

So you can see, the classic program of:

  • Aerobic exercise and
  • Calorie restriction

…is a big no-no and a recipe for very unsatisfactory results despite all your hard work.

Why Resistance Training is Best for Weight Loss

Although there is conflicting research and opinions, it is generally accepted that muscle burns a lot of calories. Anywhere from 10 to 35 calories per kilogram of skeletal muscle (about 5 to 16 calories per pound) per day depending on whose research you go by.

So 2 extra kilograms of muscle mass means you burn up to an extra 2100 calories in a month. That’s equivalent to about half a pound of fat, just from an increased BMR. Might not sound like much, but that ½ pound of fat loss is not directly from exercise, instead it’s like bonus fat loss that is occurring 24/7 even while you sleep.

And of course the calories expended during a resistance training session and in the hours following as your body recovers (EPOC) equals even more calories.

But it gets even better…

Resistance training changes your body composition in a positive direction. Your body fat percentage will decrease, even if you have not lost any fat simply because you have more muscle mass. Much more likely however, you’ll build muscle AND lose fat simultaneously as a direct and indirect result of resistance training.

And there’s still more!..

Muscle stores glycogen (converted in the liver from glucose). The more glycogen you are able to store in your liver and muscle cells, the less glucose that will be converted to fat for storage as body fat.

In short, if you want to lose fat you need to build muscle.

High Intensity Resistance Training (HIRT): The King of Fat Loss Exercises

High Intensity Resistance Training (HIRT) has no equal when it comes to fat loss because:

  • A tremendous amount of calories are burned during a workout
  • EPOC can last for up to 38 hours, longer than any other type of exercise
  • Increases your BMR more than any other type of exercise
  • Decreases your body fat percentage more than any other type of exercise

What is HIRT Exactly?

HIRT uses anaerobic exercises (like lifting weights) with these simple characteristics:

  • You keep doing repetitions of the exercise until your muscles “burn” and you can’t do another one
  • You adjust the weight so you can only perform 8-12 repetitions
    • More than 12 and it starts becoming more of an endurance exercise
    • Less than 8 and the blood flow to the muscle has not been maximized
  • 2-4 sets per exercise before moving to the next exercise
  • 2 minute rest between sets
  • Each workout includes large muscle groups

So keep that in mind: Aerobic exercise is NOT as effective as Resistance training!

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Filed Under: How to Exercise For Weight LossWeight Loss Articles

avatar About the Author: Muz Hughes is a regular single dad that has cracked the code to fast and long term weight loss. His 4-Step Formula is not a diet but a lifestyle, a sustainable way of living that results in the body you want and greater health and happiness from just 4 simple steps.

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