It really angers me when I see a supposedly authentic and qualified fitness website spreading misinformation. It’s one of the reasons we started the Lifetime Fitness website in the first place – to give you the facts about fitness – not the fiction!
And man is there a need for fitness education out there! Just check out World Fitness News, a fitness and health information website I stumbled upon today. I found this article on weight loss and my jaw dropped at what I read.
The site suggests if you’re trying to lose weight that you must do 4-5 hours minimum of cardio ONLY exercise per week. What? I can’t believe people still think this way. First of all – how boring, and secondly – who has the time? Plus it’s wrong!
Where is the strength training in a total cardio program? Every reputable fitness professional out there knows the all-cardio-all-the-time plan is completely false. The person behind the piece is stuck in the “pasta is good for you” era in their way of thinking. Crazy!
It’s been shown conclusively that weight-bearing exercises are the most effective at long term weight loss and maintenance. That’s because muscles are what require and burn calories. Simply having more muscle on your body means your metabolism is revving at a higher rate, all day, everyday, regardless of whether you’re exercising, working or even sleeping. Cardio only workouts produce little muscular gain and only elevate the metabolism during exercise and depending on the intensity, possibly for a few hours after you finish.
The most important aspect of losing fat while being on a reduced calorie diet is maintaining your muscle mass and an appropriate weight training program does exactly that. It is truly “use it or lose it” when it comes to muscle preservation. On the other hand, excessive aerobic activity can actually cause you to lose your precious muscle, which in turn lowers your metabolism, and can cause you to get fatter! I have seen this happen with my own eyes: Excessive aerobic activity leads to a smaller, but same shaped, person – essentially a ‘fat’ skinny person.
And there’s most ignorance in the article in the implication that weight training is NOT aerobic exercise. Ridiculous! I recently saw a representative of The American Heart Association saying pretty much the same exact thing on a morning show. How scary is it that even the ‘experts’ don’t know what the hell they’re talking about?
The fact is many people don’t understand what aerobic means. We’ve been conditioned to think of aerobic exercise as a treadmill, a bike, a rower, running etc. The fact is any exercise that involves increasing the supply of oxygen to working muscles is cardiovascular exercise.
The days of running 10 miles, riding a bike forever, or any extended period of time as “aerobic” exercise is passé and not efficient at all. I try to talk everyone I know out of traditional cardio and get them on a circuit training routine. The results speak for themselves: stronger, leaner bodies, more aerobic and functional fitness, and in general, a happier, healthier person.
Who wants to do an hour of cardio 5 days per week, lose muscle, and get fatter? Not me, that’s for sure.