It is no secret that the majority of people look to exercise to burn fat (and it is an excellence choice when combined with sensible eating habits). And ultimately, most people want to find the best fat loss workout. And undoubtedly, this leads to the debate about which is better… aerobic versus anaerobic exercise for fat loss.
Here I will provide a “common” sense answer to the aerobic versus anaerobic controversy…
First of all, we need to understand what the terms “aerobic” and “anaerobic” mean. Basically it comes down to oxygen. And in terms of fat loss, the effectiveness of the type of exercise you perform comes down to intensity and energy expenditure.
Lets take a closer look at the aerobic versus anaerobic controversy…
Aerobic means in the presence of oxygen… and any activity performed at a low to moderate intensity for more than 90 seconds is usually called an aerobic activity. At this level of intensity, oxygen releases energy through metabolism.
The benefits of aerobic activity are…
* Increased Cardiovascular Function
* Decrease in Body Fat
The negatives of aerobic activity are…
* Decreased Muscle Mass
* Decreased Strength
* Decreased Power
* Decreased Speed
* Decreased Anaerobic Capacity
Most people looking to burn fat choose aerobic activity in the aerobic versus anaerobic controversy. Fat loss workouts are designed to do aerobic activity in your target heart rate zone. But they fail to mention all the negatives of focusing only on aerobic activity for fat loss.
Let look at aerobic exercise for fat loss a little closer…
Low Intensity Exercise burns about 50% fat for fuel while High Intensity Exercise burns about 40% fat for fuel. So at first glance you could say Aerobic Exercise burns more fat for fuel than Anaerobic Exercise. But working at a higher rate of intensity is harder… so it ends up burning more calories in less time.
Let’s say you burn 100 calories in 20 minutes of Low Intensity Exercise (50 fat calories), and you burn 160 calories in 10 minutes of High Intensity Exercise (64 fat calories)… you still burn more over-all fat with high intensity exercise than with low intensity exercise.
There is also another advantage of High Intensity Exercise. Working at a high rate of intensity increases your metabolism long after the exercise is completed. Since anaerobic exercise is more demanding on the body, it requires more energy to recover. So, more fat burned in less time and an increased metabolism for hours after the workout… sounds pretty good to me.
But I’m getting ahead of myself…
Anaerobic means in the absence of oxygen… and any activity that is performed at a medium to high intensity for less than 2 minutes is called an anaerobic activity. At this high level of intensity, energy had to be provided from other sources other than oxygen.
There are two anaerobic energy pathways…
The Anaerobic System (ATP-CP) is where energy is derived from the re-synthesis of Adenosine Tri-Phosphate (ATP) from Creatine/Phosphate (CP) until the stores are depleted… about 5-7 seconds.
The Anaerobic Lactate System (Glycolytic) happens after the (CP) stores have been depleted where the body resorts to the breakdown of glucose for energy. This results in the production of lactate and hydrogen ions… ultimately leading to fatigue.
The benefits of anaerobic activity are…
* Increased Cardiovascular Function
* Decrease in Body Fat
* Increased Muscle Mass
* Improved Strength
* Improved Power
* Improved Speed
* Increased Aerobic Capacity
The negatives of anaerobic activity are…
* Anaerobic activity requires an aerobic foundation
When I look at the differences between the benefits of Aerobic versus Anaerobic training I often wonder why people have such a hard time choosing which type of activity is best for fat loss and building the lean, muscular, athletic body they want.
So, the next time you think of a fat loss workout, don’t think exclusively of aerobic activity. Think of anaerobic activities like weight lifting and high intensity interval training.
So, let’s make some sense of the aerobic versus anaerobic
problem for fat loss…
When people decide to start exercising to lose fat, they normally choose an aerobic activity. They jog, bike, row etc. at a pace where they can maintain the activity for an extended period of time. And in the beginning, they burn fat.
Then the body adapts and becomes more efficient at burning fat for fuel. The result… you burn LESS fat when performing the same activity. So, they try to increase the DURATION of the aerobic activity to burn more fat.
The body keeps adjusting until no more fat comes off. (Frustrating, isn’t it?)
So, here is what you should do.
Start off with an aerobic activity. (After all, if you’ve been sitting on the couch eating potato chips for the last 3 years… you need to build up your aerobic base!) But instead of increasing the duration of your aerobic workouts you should increase the INTENSITY of your workout. This means going closer to your maximum output. The most common application of this is High Intensity Interval Training.
So, as you can see, it should not be aerobic versus anaerobic… but aerobic AND anaerobic!
Coach Lomax Notes: When looking for a fat loss workout, look for one that combines weight training and progresses towards high intensity anaerobic training. This is the PROVEN combination to burn fat both during your workout AND for hours afterward. This type of fat loss workout literally turns your body into a fat burning machine.
The truth is, there is no such thing as “Aerobic Versus Anaerobic”. Your fat loss workout should be a combination of both. (Honestly, it is impossible to work at a strictly anaerobic capacity). But you need a workout that uses anaerobic training if you want to see lasting fat loss results and build the athletic looking body you want. Avoid “Aerobic Only” fat loss workouts.
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