Weights build muscle. Aerobics burn fat. Right? Not necessarily. The standard thinking is aerobics are a necessary component for fat loss and cardiovascular health, but in my opinion, they're essentially just an ineffective form of exercise.

Aerobics will do next to nothing to alter one's appearance, yet people will include them because they're considered essential for providing a complete and balanced exercise program. That makes about as much sense as adding Styrofoam bricks while building a house because they provide a "different" form of support. They're only weaker.

No one wants to admit that they've wasted hours of time on something that has reaped no reward. It isn't unlike the gambler who continues to lose and lose because he's already invested so much money on trying to win. Sure, it's senseless. But humans also react out of emotion. Most serious exercise enthusiasts include aerobics in their program but no one knows why -- other than what they've heard. Now you'll hear something different.


The first premise regarding the necessity of aerobic training that I'd like to take on is the "targeted heart rate" theory. The belief is that once the heart rate is elevated to 60% of its maximum potential for over 20 minutes, the body begins to burn fat. Makes sense. I guess. You'll sure be burning a whole lot of calories. But if this method is so effective, why is it that I see so many aerobic instructors who are obviously in great cardiovascular condition with big fat asses!?

The reason is simple. Once the body becomes accustomed to the demand that is being put on it, there is no reason to adapt. It's capable of performing the activity effectively. The only alternative would be to increase either the intensity or the duration, both of which are self-defeating. It's imperative to remember at all times that the body's number one function is survival. Your body doesn't give a damn about how you want it to look. It is a primitive and highly efficient organism that will use a multitude of resources to adapt to an almost limitless array of bombardment. Keeping that in mind, follow me on this next point.

A gram of fat consists of 9 energy units (calories). A gram of protein is 4 calories as is a gram of carbohydrate. Your body doesn't care if the fat is coming from your oblique or a stick of butter, it will use what is most readily available. When performing an activity that requires constant low level movement for over 20 minutes, what you are essentially doing is giving your body a command:

Must run...
Must keep moving...
The master demands I travel great distances...

Now, knowing the body is going to respond as efficiently as possible, it will then begin to drop weight, allowing it to perform the task at hand with greater ease. This is where the belief that aerobics are effective gets misconstrued.

If the body is going to take the path of least resistance (which is the only way it knows), will it use 9 energy units (fat calories) to drop a gram of weight or will it use 4 energy units (protein or carbohydrate calories) to drop a gram of weight? Of course, it will use only four! Would you pay nine dollars for something when you can get it for four? The first source of fuel is to use the stored carbohydrates. As long as carbs are present, there is little need to use fat. This is why it's preposterous to eat carbs in order to have the energy to run. It's like working at a job that pays just enough to pay the expenses of getting to and from work.

What happens once carbs are depleted? Now we enter the fat burning zone, don't we? Not so fast Sparky. It still has another 4 calorie per gram energy available -- protein. What's so bad about that? Well, just as the body doesn't discern where the fat comes from, it also doesn't know a protein molecule in a piece of steak from a protein molecule in a piece of human muscle tissue. The muscle on your body is a readily available source of energy just waiting to be used. So whenever you do aerobic activity, you're burning muscle -- like it or not.