Aerobic and resistance training are exercises that are effective in conditioning the body in unique ways.
Aerobic exercise improves cardiorespiratory fitness while burning fat.
Strength training, on the other hand, is effective in stimulating the musculoskeletal system to increase the size of the muscle and increase strength, power, and endurance.
So, what is the best form of exercise to achieve your personal fitness goals?
The answer is… It depends on your fitness goals.
Concurrent Strength and Aerobic Exercise
Combining strength and aerobic training is the best way to reach any fitness goal. While aerobic exercise burns fat and improves cardiovascular endurance, strength training builds muscles an gives the body that toned look everyone desires.
Combines aerobic and strength training can be done in different ways:
- Aerobic or resistance exercise in the morning and the other in the evening.
- Performing aerobic and strength training exercises in the same workout.
- Performing either exercise on entirely different days.
- During fixed training cycles.
Top sports athletes use this format of exercising because of its effectiveness in building muscular power and endurance while allowing cardiovascular resistance due to the nature of most sports.
Does The Sequence of the Exercises Matter?
Prioritizing one over the other is going to depend heavily on the desired goal.
Here are some questions to take into consideration:
- Do I want to lose weight, gain muscle or both?
- How often can I work out? How many times a week? How many times a day?
- Which result is a priority? Losing weight, gaining muscle, or both?
Answering these questions will help you determine how frequently you should be doing either exercise and if you should be doing them in the same workout, on the same day, or on entirely different days.
Toning is one of the most popular goals within novice fitness enthusiasts. Toning comprises of burning fat and gaining muscle at the same time.
To achieve this desired look, combining strength and aerobic exercises in the same workout will result in faster results.
HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) will aid in burning fat fast while giving you strength. However, neglecting weight training may result in flab because fat is burned quicker than muscle is built.
If flab is a concern, then increasing the amount of strength training should be a priority. Heavy lifting is not necessary, but, it is favorable when it comes to growing muscle size fast.
Remember that diet is the crucial part of training. When toning, the number of calories consumed should be lower than the amount of calories burned. However, too large of a deficit can result in a catabolic effect on the muscle. Meaning, the muscle will not grow.
*Heavy lifting will not result in a bulky figure unless your calorie intake is much higher than what your body burns. In this case, your body will gain fat while gaining muscle and will give the illusion that your muscles are much bigger than they are.
Check out my video, “Top 6 Foods to Avoid When Trying to Lose Weight.”
Building significant gains is desired by most men. But, aerobic exercise is often neglected. Aerobic training is crucial for one’s health and should be part of everyone’s fitness regime.
With that being said, if you are bulking, you should be eating a large surplus of calories while performing heavy lifting. Cardio should be completed before workouts to enhance muscle and cardiovascular endurance. Although cardio is not a priority, engaging in aerobic exercises a few times a week will be favorable for muscle gains due to the increase in oxygen flow through the entire body.
For bulking, lifting heavy weights for 80% of your workouts with 20% aerobic exercises will be favorable.
Once you have reached your desired, or close to desired, muscle volume, you can now begin to shed fat to reveal a chiseled physique.
Minimal strength training is needed to maintain muscle volume. In fact, weight training once a week is enough to sustain the muscle you already have.
Nonetheless, strength training is still essential when going through a cutting cycle. But, aerobic exercise will be the most effective in quickly burning fat to reveal muscle gains.
HIIT cardio will be the most efficient way to shredding fat and maintaining muscle. Heavyweight lifting does not need to be a priority unless you wish to increase size.
Similar to toning, a calorie deficit is essential for burning fat fast. It is also necessary to make sure you are eating enough calories so that your muscles are receiving enough nutrients to maintain gains.
Remember, not all aerobic exercises are the same. Overexerting yourself with aerobic activities that do not compliment strength, such as the treadmill, can cause you to lose muscle. If you wish to compliment your weight lifting exercise with aerobic; perform at least 20 minutes of low-intensity cardio after your weight lifting session. After weight training, the glycogen levels in the muscle are low, so when cardio is introduced, the body begins to burn more fat for energy.
Low-intensity cardio includes walking on a steep incline, low resistance, and speed on treadmill and bicycle, steady climbing on the stair master or a slow jog.
Aerobic and strength training are both equally important in improving both musculoskeletal function and cardiorespiratory function. This allows us to have reduced health risk and be able to perform daily activities safely. Both modalities are also crucial in longevity and maintaining good physical health. This allows us to live a comfortable life with little to no health issues or risks.
As mentioned, the calorie intake is essential when working toward a desired fitness goal. Here, you can find a calorie calculator that will help you gain a better understanding of your personal nutritional needs. It is important to understand that most calories should come from the correct source of macronutrients.