The Aerobic Myth

The Aerobic Myth

We have been told over and over that the best activity for burning calories and fat is aerobic exercise. I’m not disagreeing that aerobic exercise offers many benefits, from heart health to reduction of mental stress and to enhancing brain function. That’s all good. But if you really want to burn calories, the newest exercise research will tell you to look elsewhere.

The New School of Calorie Burners
It is widely believed that an activity like moderate jogging burns more calories than weight training, an activity that’s highly anaerobic. In fact, if you go by conventional thinking you find that even golfing beats out a light circuit workout. But recent research shows otherwise.

Data from a study at the University of Southern Maine shows that weight training burns more calories than originally thought — up to 71 percent more. Using an advanced method to estimate energy expenditure, exercise physiologist Christopher Scott, Ph.D., found that performing just one circuit of eight exercises, in 8 minutes – will burn 159 to 231 calories. That is the equivalent of running a 6 minute mile pace for the same 8 minutes (1.3 miles).

Everyday Results
Strength training is a more effective workout. We know it helps to prevent muscle loss and it boosts your metabolism for hours after you work out. We also know that higher-intensity exercises such as interval training and strength training result in greater fat loss than lower-intensity exercise does. This is why I combine the two in a 30 minute strength sessions to create total-body workouts for our clients.

Strength training is not about building muscles for vanity. Increased strength, range of motion, and overall fitness makes people more capable in their daily activities.  It just so happens, it may also be the most efficient way to burn fat.

Fast-paced weight-training routines emphasize different muscle groups in each exercise. When you work out different muscle groups as a part of a structured exercise circuit, your body engages in a high-intensity effort for a much longer duration. For best results, do exercises in sets with almost no rest between each set. When doing this you maintain an aerobic state and get the metabolic calorie burn benefit, long after the exercise is complete. This is the best way I know to workout.

Of course, you won’t find much evidence of this in the scientific journals because the studies are few and far between. But researchers like Scott are beginning to prove what we already know. Strength training works. Our clients are all the proof we need.

Josha Krueger is a NSCA-CSCS certified personal trainer, an AFPA Sports Nutrition Consultant, and owner of Kru Strength + Fitness.

Filed under: Exercise

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    Great article.

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    Good article. I have a strong dislike for running.

  • I think it is important to remember that while running might not be the best calorie burner, it does have numerous advantages over lower intensity activities: increased lung and heart health to name a few.

  • Thanks for sharing, although I have found I get great results with interval training, but it is exhausting and I have found my self skipping out all together, maybe taking a walk on a day im tired is a better option.

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    Josha Krueger

    Josha Krueger, NSCA CSCS, AFPA Sports Nutrition Consultant, is a former professional soccer player, two time W-league National Champion, UWM Hall of Fame member, and owner of Kru Strength + Fitness in Andersonville.

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