There are many misconceptions circulating in the world of weight loss, sports and nutrition in the Arab world. Many of these rumors revolve around aerobic or cardio exercises and iron exercises. Most of the magazines, newspapers, television programs, and dietitians recommend aerobics only to burn fat. Worse than this, some of these “experts” or “specialists” advise the trainees to stay away from iron exercises and lifting heavy weights under the pretext that they are not suitable for their body. Unfortunately, this contributes to obesity patients' fear of iron exercises, especially women. The Arabs are accustomed to the fact that aerobic exercises are exercises for weight loss, while iron exercises are a sport for gaining weight for the skinny body. Surely you have heard about a friend of yours saying that he will not do iron exercises until after losing excess weight, so as not to “inflate”.
What is the difference between aerobic exercises and iron exercises (body building)?
Aerobics or cardio exercises are moving the muscles of the body, especially the large ones (such as the legs), in a repetitive pattern, light to medium intensity, and for a relatively long period. The translation of the word aerobics is “aerobic” exercise, because aerobics uses oxygen as a medium to create the energy needed to perform the exercise. Examples of aerobic exercises are: walking, running, swimming, dancing, etc
As for iron exercises, they are called Anaerobic exercises. This means that the exercise is done at such a high intensity that you cannot fully catch your breath. Like fast running or heavy weight lifting exercises. The duration is short, no more than two minutes. After two minutes, the body begins to rely on oxygen, meaning that the exercise turns into an aerobic exercise.
Aerobic exercises have many benefits for the heart muscle and increase the red blood cells responsible for transporting oxygen to all parts of the body and help reduce the chances of cancer, heart attacks, strokes, diabetes and pressure diseases. There are hundreds of studies on the huge benefits of aerobic or cardio exercises.
As for non-aerobic exercises or iron and body-building exercises, they also have many benefits on strengthening bones, joints and tendons, and preventing chronic joint pain and rheumatic disease. Iron exercises also help raise levels of beneficial blood cholesterol (HDL) and help secrete many beneficial hormones for the body, such as male hormone and growth hormone.
Aerobic exercises for weight loss and fat burning:
To lose 1 pound of fat (0.45 kilograms), you need to burn 3,500 calories. And since a long aerobic session burns 300-600 calories, aerobics undoubtedly helps to burn fat and lose weight.
It is difficult to continue aerobic exercise for a long time due to fatigue, boredom, and joint pain.
Aerobic exercise does not help build muscle, and vigorous aerobic classes can lead to wasted muscle mass.
Adhering to a weight loss program based on reducing calories and practicing aerobics only leads to the erosion of muscle mass over time, which leads to a slowdown in the basic metabolism (the burning process) and the body stops losing weight. Add to this the deterioration in the aesthetic appearance of the body. All that happens when losing weight without iron exercises is that you will become a smaller version of your fat body. And I think this is far from the ideal body that you dream of.
When you do long-term aerobics, the body releases large amounts of the hormone cortisol. Cortisol, also called the stress hormone, is a catabolic hormone that has a strong effect on muscle breakdown and fat gain.
After months of doing aerobics, your body starts to get used to these exercises and consumes fewer calories to do them.
Iron exercises for weight loss and fat burning:
Anaerobic exercises or iron exercises burn fat through 4 axes.
The first axis, burning calories during exercise:
Iron exercises, especially compound exercises that use more than one muscle, such as squats, deadlifts, and barbell bench presses lead to the consumption of calories during exercise.
The second axis, raising the metabolic rate after exercise:
Studies have shown that the basal metabolic rate rises for 36 hours after barbell training. This is because during exercise your muscles are torn apart in what is known as catabolism. After exercise and during rest, the building process of muscle fibers occurs again, which is the process necessary to acquire new muscle fibers. And the muscle building process leads to an increase in the basic metabolic rate because the body needs muscle building energy.
The third axis, raising the basic metabolic rate in the long term:
Iron exercises or bodybuilding exercises lead to an increase in muscle mass. It is known and scientifically proven that muscle fibers are active tissues that consume calories even during rest and sleep. This explains why men burn their body fat faster than women. The more muscle mass you have, the higher your basal metabolic rate (burning process)
The fourth axis, raising the level of anabolic hormones:
Iron exercises raise levels of testosterone and growth hormone GH. Both hormones are powerful for burning fat, building muscle, and improving overall health.
Iron exercises or body building also give a very attractive appearance to men and women. It gives men broad shoulders, thick arms, and a sculpted chest. It also gives women so-called curves in the legs, arms, and attractive buttocks.
Which is the best sport for losing weight and burning fat, iron exercises, aerobics, or both?
This question is answered by a study conducted in May 2012, which is:
Willis LH, Slentz CA, Bateman LA, Shields AT, Piner LW, Bales CW, Houmard JA, Kraus WE. Effects of aerobic and/or resistance training on body mass and fat mass in overweight or obese adults. J Apple Physiol. 2012 Dec;113(12):1831-7.
In this study, the researchers divided 196 trainees into 3 groups, all of whom ate the same low-calorie diet. A group that does aerobics only, a group that does iron exercises only, and a group that does both.
These are the results after 8 weeks:
Aerobics group only: I lost 1.76 kg
Aerobics and iron exercises group: I lost 1.63 kg
Iron group only: her weight increased by 0.83
If we analyze the nature of the lost weight
Aerobics group only: I lost 1.66 kg of fat plus 0.1 kg of muscle mass (and losing muscle mass is a bad thing)
Aerobics and iron group: I lost 2.52 kg of fat and gained 0.81 kg of muscle
Iron only group: she gained 1.09 kg of muscle mass and lost 0.26 kg of fat
So, it is clear that the best solution for burning fat and gaining muscle mass is to do iron and aerobic exercises together.
This study is consistent with a similar study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania. The researchers divided the trainees into two groups that adhered to a diet. A group that does iron exercises only and a group that does aerobic exercises only. After 6 months, both groups lost 10 kg, but the aerobics group lost 2.5 kg of muscle within this loss.
A low-calorie diet combined with aerobic exercise alone is not the best solution to achieving a perfect body. Iron exercises must be done with aerobics to maintain muscle mass, raise the basic metabolism rate, and burn more fat!