By: Corbin Williams, NPTI-CPT
Personal Trainer/Nutrition Coach
Why is using weights versus a treadmill a usual controversy? I have seen many articles about how one is better than the other or promoting one over the other as all you need to lose fat. The truth is, they are both important to a good training program. To train with one without the other is not a good idea and not as effective as it could be if you would include them both. Through basic science of how your body works and how exercise helps in the loss of fat, we will discuss the reasons why it is important to include both of these and how it will provide the best result.
First let’s talk about the type of exercise each one provides. Anaerobic exercise consists of things like resistance training (weights), plyometric drills, speed and agility, and interval training, etc. Aerobic exercises are running and walking, biking, and swimming, etc. People commonly get these terms mixed up. Here are the actual definitions of each.
Anaerobic: living or active in the absence of free oxygen.
Aerobic: depending on free oxygen or air
Just remember aerobic sounds like “AIR”obic, needs air/oxygen. That means an”AIR”obic is NO air/oxygen. In anaerobic exercise your blood vessels are more constricted. This does not allow blood to flow as freely. During aerobic exercise your blood vessels are not constricted. Blood flow is easier and can get where it’s needed. Now that we understand this, it will make much more sense as to why we need both of these.
How does this fit into our training? There is an order depending on your goal but let’s use weight loss and fat loss as our example. When setting up a program for any of my weight loss clients I always have them do resistance training followed by some sort of cardio. I never do this the other way around or one or the other. Here is the reason. When you do an anaerobic (no oxygen) exercise you are using energy stores that are trapped and stored in your body. The only way your body can retrieve them is to start a breakdown process so that energy can be used. This is called the catabolic process . In doing this we are getting some of that fat to break down and turn into a more liquid form that makes it easy for your blood to move it around. But we don’t want to just move it and then let it reabsorb in another spot. Therefore, after we get that “burn” from our workout, you need to do your aerobic (with oxygen) exercise to use and burn that fat out of the system. If you do this the other way you will not get that fat to break down, therefore, you won’t burn it, and if you do your resistance training after a run all that fat that you did break down, will just reabsorb and not get used and removed.
Now, how long do you need to train to obtain these results? Set aside at least an hour for your entire training session. Do a good strong half hour of resistance training followed by a jog on the treadmill or a row on the erg or spin on the bike. Depending on where you are trying to lose the fat from will depend on how fast or slow you go. For those “hard to get” areas including the hips, lower back, stomach, and thighs, you need to go at a rate where you can still hold a conversation at the same time. These areas are not as populated with capillaries therefore less blood gets to these areas. You need blood flow to draw the fat away and deliver it to where it can be converted and used as energy. For all other areas you can push yourself hard and get a good 30 minute run in or an intense interval type exercise.
As you can see one without the other is not the ideal way to train if you are really serious about getting results. If you include both in this way, you will see awesome results. Not only will you lose weight but you will see inches fall off, and inches are a much better indicator of fat loss than is weight loss. Most of all keep active every day. Increased activity leads to a healthier lifestyle. This is our ultimate goal.
Corbin Williams, NPTI-CPT
Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach
Certified Nutrition Coach
Graduated from the National Personal Training Institute
Owner of GetReal Training, LLC