Even today after so many decades of research and application, some people and organizations still persist that weight training lacks aerobic benefits. In my professional opinion, this is a misconception as the fact is, as I have discovered, that specific forms of applying weight training does stimulate the heart and its cardiovascular system to a significant degree therefore representing an aerobic stimulus. But with the existing definition that was conceived by many that aerobics are a continuous nonstop activity performed for an extended period of time (minimum of 20 minutes), while maintaining a heart rate between 70% – 85% of maximum, and the chief energy or fuel sources being oxygen and body fat, conventional weight training cannot claim to offer similar aerobic benefits. But don’t be alarmed, I have the remedy to this concern.
For those who are interested in obtaining the best benefits from both world’s; Aerobic stamina with a highly conditioning cardiovascular and respiratory system operated by the heart and lungs, with low percentages of body fat, and Anaerobic strength with impressive muscular shape, strength and energy, it’s the manner in which weight training workout’s are conducted that links the two together.
No longer do you have to perform two separate routines, I’ve learned how to combine the two, with less time, and you won’t just get the same results as if you did two separate workouts; one for each, you’ll get better results. Does this interest you?, then read on.
Conventional methods for lifting weights recommends that each exercise set is followed by an adequate rest period before proceeding onto the next set. During conventional means, heart rate and blood pressure elevates during each exercise but dramatically reduces during inter-set rest intervals. These “application-rest” cycles are followed until all exercises are completed for each workout. This method enforces plenty of intentional non-active time to replenish specific muscle fuels like ATP and other anaerobic fuel so as to allow the participant to recharge their muscles [physically] for another vigorous task after a previous exhaustive effort and to psyche-up [mentally] for another “go” at the resistances/weights. It’s more like an interval elevation/deceleration of heart and respiration rate providing some but not optimal aerobic benefits. According to others this prevents the aerobic system from effective participation but there is a way to combine the benefits from both.
Circuit Training has been around for decades and offers an unlimited matrix of applications and benefits. This system of working-out is performed differently both mentally and physically. In this method, the weight training applicant performs one set with one exercise then immediately performs another exercise in succession without rest; one-right-after-the-other. Exercises are sequenced in a variety of combinations which isolate single-muscles, regional groups of muscles, or total body training all in one workout.
Muscles, generally speaking, can only contract for long periods of time when the work load, or amount of resistance, compliments the time requirements of the activity and sufficient amounts of oxygen are available. Mental focus during circuit training becomes directed toward the proficiency of the heart and lungs as opposed to just the muscles during conventional training because the activity requires the teamwork from all systems; i.e., muscles, heart, lungs.
The cardiovascular and respiratory systems feed our working muscles with oxygen filled blood. Circulating in this system of blood are sugars that act as the muscles spark plugs for energy. Once these sparks plugs are expended, and this fuel supply is depleted, the body has a remarkable ability to switch to another fuel, and that eventually becomes body fat, pretty neat ha?
So the obvious aerobic element missing in conventional weight training is that the cardio/respiratory system is given these rest periods in between each set of exercises enabling the sugar fuel cycle to remain the chief energy supplier and never allowing the fat fuel cycle to kick in. But we have to trick our body’s because burning sugar is fine but we also need to burn fat.
By performing circuit training, you’ll never give your heart or lungs a chance to relax, nor will the muscles relax. In addition to the benefits of increasing heart and lung conditioning, enhancing your ability to utilize oxygen, burning sugar, and burning fat, impressive muscular shape and strength gains will be included from completing the type of aerobic resistance activity I am suggesting.
If you’re in a crowded exercise facility, or at home and have to change equipment for every exercise (both time consuming factors), aerobic benefits will be sacrificed when the body becomes less or inactive. Your mission is to stay moving. So if you find yourself waiting for a machine or wasting time trying to adjust some piece of equipment try doing sit-ups or pushups or jump rope, just do something if you’re forced to slow down or stop to keep your systems running. It’s like driving a car. You put your foot on the gas and your burning gasoline. But when you slow down for a yellow light you’ll burn less fuel, and certainly when you stop for a red light you’re not going to burn any fuel at all. Now I’m using an analogy here so don’t blow through yellow and red lights and think you’ll lose your love handles. With all kidding aside, I am suggesting that you keep moving during your exercise sessions and if/when you are confronted with an interruption or a delay find a way to keep moving or just accelerate quicker once you commence.
If you read between the lines of what I’m saying basically I’m saying that activity and movement burn calories, it’s that simple, just move and you’ll burn fuel. But slowing down and stopping during certain types of activity will slow and/or stop the fuel burning process. Let’s take two people who go to the gym. Person #1 starts as soon as she gets there, doesn’t talk to anybody, but instead is all work until her 20 minutes have expired. Person #2 is at the same club, in fact, she arrived at the same time as #1 and she leaves 20 minutes after #1 leaves. But #2 putts around getting started and once she began she was delayed by small talk in between exercises as she rested on the closet machines. Get my point here? Just move and get the results you’re looking for. I am a big fan of the philosophy of “get in and get it done as quickly as possible”. This leaves more time for other things afterwards.
After each complete circuit of exercises (which is traditionally 5-10 exercises), not in between the exercises themselves, a 1-2 minute rest is optional to replenish your mental and physical energies. If you’re goal is to lose body fat, expend this time on a step machine, stationary bike, or do a series of flexibility movements. This will recuperate your muscles from the weights while your cardio/respiratory system remains active using fat as fuel.
Even though I’m sounding like a drill-sergeant by suggesting that you move from exercise-to-exercise with little or no rest, I must encourage you to take as much time as you need to adjust yourself for each exercise, select the specific resistances and machine settings for each of your exercises, and zero-in on the specific technical applications of every movement.
After completing a circuit training workout, you’ll feel refreshed and less sore. Circuit trainingpromotes the removal of toxins which build up in the body during rigorous activity. During the deceleration periods in conventional methods, toxins become trapped within the tissues as the less active heart slows down the rate of blood flow. This prevents a flushing out of these waste materials which will stay inside the body if they are not eliminated.
Circuit training’s continuous cardiovascular requirements flushes toxins out from the tissues with the forcing of blood through the tubal pathways of the CV system. Your muscles become cleaner and recuperate much quicker after each workout.
Conventional methods suggest that the applicant handle heavier resistances with 6-10 rep sets. Inter-set rest periods of up to 6 minutes replenish the ability to lift more weight but, at the same time, can subject the lifter to possible injuries. Injuries can also be induced from extended rest periods which cool the tissues down. Over-emphasizing the use of heavy resistances can place too much stress to the muscles, tendons and ligaments instead of prioritizing muscular activity to an extended duration activity.
Since circuit training is continuous, resistances automatically become substantially lighter. The reduction in total weight lifted is compensated by eliminating any inter-set rest intervals (keeping the muscles fatigued). The higher number of repetitions suggested for each set during circuit trainingforces your muscles to rely on lighter poundages.
By performing more repetitions in each set (12-20 or more), the duration required to complete each set is substantially lengthened. As the applicant remains active the muscles can work just as hard as during conventional methods but now the added responsibilities from the heart and lungs add to the benefits, the results are amazing!
When understood, the mission behind circuit training makes a lot of sense for plenty of reasons, some of which I’ve just explained. For those who are avid conventional applicants, I suggest trying circuit training at least twice each year for 1-3 week periods to break the monotony of heavy training, condition the heart and lungs, provide a variety of mental challenges, and assist in burning some extra fat.
If you’re still skeptical that weight training can deliver aerobic benefits then give circuit training a fair chance to prove itself. As long as you remain active during your workouts you’ll accomplish everything you would normally achieve from one of your high or low-impact aerobic classes but now you’re taking advantage of specific muscle shaping movements as well. You get the best of both world’s!!!