- Why People Choose Aerobics Over Weight Training- And Don’t Get The Weight Loss Results They Want
- Reason Number 1: Weight Training Usually Requires Some Degree Of Instruction
- Reason Number 2: People Still Believe That If They Weight Train They Will Get Unsightly Big Muscles
- Reason Number 3: People Are Afraid Of Weight Training
Why People Choose Aerobics Over Weight Training- And Don’t Get The Weight Loss Results They Want
Here is the scenario experienced by the overwhelming majority of people that try to lose weight with aerobics- you start a program, be it running or taking classes or using the aerobic machines in the gym and after some initial weight loss everything seems to plateau. You aren’t losing any more weight in spite of the hours you are putting in religiously adhering to your aerobic exercise program. You think to yourself: ” perhaps that hour isn’t enough” and so, you increase your exercise time hoping that it will bring a concurrent reduction in your overall body fat and you’ll l be well on your way to a body that looks terrific with no clothes on. Sadly, there is no magic moment of body transformation. In fact, you might even find yourself gaining weight even though you are literally working your behind off for hours on end. Frustration begins to set in. Perhaps it is your diet- so you tighten that up a bit more but you are hungry all the time and find it really hard not to eat a lot given the amount of time you spend exercising. If you are like 97% of the people that start a weight loss program of this nature, you will most likely quit after three to six months and feel like a complete failure. Even worse, you’ll think that there is probably something wrong with your metabolism that is stopping you from losing weight as everyone knows that aerobic exercise is the best way to lose weight and tone up- but it just isn’t happening for you. Most people will also develop a bit of an aversion to exercising as a result as well (and the constant repetitive movement can lead to overuse injuries as well). Not that many of us in the general population find hours upon hours of running or working out on a Stairmaster or stationery bike to be anything but excruciatingly boring. Others can spend hours singing the praises of the ‘runner’s high’ and how much of a stress reduction sustained exercise can be- but this is but a small percentage of the species. Most people can’t stand the monotony and when coupled with the frustration coming from a lack of results, many learn to hate it. The problem is that aerobics are not the best form of weight loss nor are they”the be all and end all” of overall health and fitness. For the past several decades, the best kept secret in the fitness field is that high intensity weight training gives you the body of your dreams- not aerobics- but it does not sell to the general public as easily as aerobic exercise does.
Reason Number 1: Weight Training Usually Requires Some Degree Of Instruction
There are some very simple reasons why people gravitate towards aerobics rather than weight training. One is that weight training tends to require some degree of initial instruction which conflicts greatly with today’s do-it-yourself mentality. To obtain a degree in business you study under the tutelage of someone with an advanced knowledge of the subject, but to learn how to do something as important as change your body and improve your health, most rely on a few magazine articles and what they saw on television. Weight training isn’t instinctive. You can’t simply buy a pair of sneakers and start doing it as you need to know what you are doing so that you don’t get hurt.
Reason Number 2: People Still Believe That If They Weight Train They Will Get Unsightly Big Muscles
The other reason people steer clear of weight training is because they believe that they will magically sprout unsightly muscles after a few months of weight training. As a former competitive bodybuilder, I wish that this was the case, but it isn’t- even for the most genetically gifted among us, developing a truly muscular physique requires not only a dietary intake two to three times that of the average human, but years of consistency as well. You can’t build muscles overnight any more than you can get a gut overnight. It takes time- a lot of time, and for women building muscles is even harder. Women naturally have ten times less of the hormones required for increasing muscle mass and few women are aware that intense weight training and not aerobics are responsible for most of the great female physiques you see on the billboards.
Reason Number 3: People Are Afraid Of Weight Training
Another common reason why people shy away from weight training and go towards aerobics is fear. Plain and simple fear. Weight training, especially high intensity weight training looks hard- and it is! There is no mistaking the grimaces and the grunts are associated with those that dare cross the line from the aerobic section of the gym to the weight rooms and most of us are a bit put off by the idea of such kinds of exertion as it just doesn’t look as good as running or taking a class. The sad part is that most people who truly dislike monotonous aerobic activity tend to love the immediate gratification that comes from the pump of working your muscles with weights. Properly done a weight training session is shorter, has an almost infinite variety of exercises and routines and you can see tangible results much faster. Weight training changes your body, whereas doing aerobics at best can only make you a smaller version of yourself- and if you are a bit soft to begin with- you’ll be soft to end with and without the tone, strength and increase in coordination that comes with weight training.
Reason 4: The Media Portrays An Inaccurate View Of The Reality of Weight Training
The final reason why weight training is often pushed aside for more aerobic type exercises lies squarely with the influence that the media has on our collective ideas on exercise. In the 1980’s non-steroidal looking female bodybuilders paved the way for a huge increase in the number of women joining gyms. Sporting strong, sculpted and toned bodies that were still extremely feminine their examples remain the ideal for most women of today- but the media no longer highlights them as role models given the negative stereotypes created by modern female bodybuilders who use considerable amounts of anabolic steroids and growth hormones to achieve a look that is for most people unmistakably masculine. Without drugs, women cannot develop the degree of hypermuscularity you see on today’s female bodybuilders- and in many ways they have done more to scare away women from weight training than any other group save the media.
The media’s job is to sell and entertain and to do so a bit of reality bending is usually in order to make things look as attractive as possible for consumers. In so doing they often propagate sexist ideas of femininity (women are softer and less aggressive than men) and so when they portray women working out, they usually do so with the women smiling and looking like they are having a great time. Look at any men’s magazine and you’ll see men weight training with some serious grimaces- but for women’s magazines (published by the same companies, mind you) the women are always given a more demure look and tend to be doing more aerobics than weight training. It is a subtle message but one that I don’t want my daughter to internalize because it is fundamentally wrong. To change your body you need to work hard. Working hard involves sweating and very often a sense of exertion that won’t make you look pretty and passive, but strong and in control.
Not that we should look to the media for our role models to begin with, but it is important, especially for women to note that they are doing themselves a disservice by selecting a training program made up of mostly aerobic exercises and that they will never get the body they are looking for by doing aerobics alone. The same goes for the guys. Over the past twenty years as a personal trainer, 99.9% of my clients wanted a look that comes only from weight training. Aerobics are a great form of exercise when done judiciously and in moderation for relaxation, stress management and for improving some aspects of your fitness levels- but when it comes to really changing your body, weight training is all you need.
Here are some articles to get you started on the road towards changing your body with weight training:
Kevin Richardson is one of the most sought after and respected personal trainers in NYC and the creator of Naturally Intense High Intensity Training . You an download a copy of his free weight loss ebook here.