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Weight Lifting vs Aerobics

The Great Weights -vs- Aerobics Controversy

-- is really stupid.  It's another case of people wandering around with blinkered vision, touting that which they see as the One And Only Way, the Holy Grail of Fitness.  Aerobics classes with "toning" sessions, using tiny, ineffective weights.  Weight-lifting advocates telling all and sundry that trips to the Aerobics Room will create the dreaded "free radicals", burn up muscle tissue... it's all just too bizarre!  Add to that the "infomercials", complete with "World Famous Personal Trainer (insert name)", selling us "The Four Minute Workout!!", and separating the wheat from the chaff, almost becomes an exercise in futility.  Whom do you believe?

Believe This --
Exercise is a Good Thing.  Aerobic exercise improves the cardiopulmonary system and the "endurance" muscle in the body.  It increases the metabolism, both while being performed, and for some period of time afterward, which causes the body to use more "fuel", some of which is going to be fat.  Weight training improves the "strength" muscles in the body.  It also increases metabolism during and after the exercise, and as an added bonus, increases LBM (Lean Body Mass), adding muscle tissue which is metabolically active, and which uses up those pesky kilocalories even when at rest!

Exercise has Negative Aspects, too.  Actually, any sort of exercise at all will cause the body to create free radicals -- it's a fact of biochemistry.  It's also why just about everyone in the health and fitness industries (along with much of the medical community) will point you to antioxidants such as vitamins C and E, and foods containing beta carotene, as a regular part of your diet.

The thing to remember, amidst all the confusion, is that there is a lot of half-truth, and text-out-of-context out there.  People find one thing which works for them, and believe that it will work for everyone.  Or they'll jump on a bandwagon and demonize any method which doesn't match, precisely, their narrow view of exercise.  It is best, therefore, to spend some serious time finding all the information we can, from several sources, (preferably sources with no axe to grind, or profit to make from supplying information), and to make our own genuinely informed decisions, based on real knowledge, rather than opinion, advertising, and innuendo.

Why Do We Exercise?
Pick a reason, and you'll find someone who exercises for that reason.  Looking better, feeling better, being able to perform better at some sport, just for fun -- there are lots of possibilities.  But the ultimate result of all of that exercise, should be a healthier you!

So, What Should We Do?
There really isn't a single specific answer to that question, which fits everyone.  The best general-purpose plan I can give you here, goes something like:

  1. Do some aerobic work 3 to 4 times per week, for about 30 to 40 minutes per session (not including warmup and cooldown); make it something you really enjoy -- not something you'll consider a chore.  Exercise only works if you keep it up!
  2. Go lift some serious weight twice per week, concentrating on hitting every major muscle group.  This need not take more than 20 minutes per session, if you're doing single-set, low-rep-to-fatigue (or failure) routines.  See a Certified Personal Trainer for more information on HIT (High Intensity Training) methods.  If you enjoy living in the gym, of course, you can go on and do pyramids and ad infinitum reps; just don't expect those methods to work any better than HIT for simply adding mass -- they won't.
  3. Eat properly, and frequently (5 or 6 small meals per day, rather than 2 or 3 large meals).
    1. Foods high in complex carbohydrates
    2. Foods low in fats, especially saturated fats
    3. Minimal supplementation, except as advised by a physician, RD, or Nutritionist.
And With That --
We once again draw to a close.  Please sign up for the free magazine below, and email us with suggestions for articles, questions, criticism (constructive, it is to be hoped! :-), or just chat.

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