T Nation

Aerobics or not aerobics

I’ve always seem to have a problem putting muscle on while
keeping body fat low, or keeping body fat low while putting on any muscle.
So, I’d like to do SOME aerobics to keep it off (or lower it a bit), but not interfere with muscle growth
(too much). My gut feeling is that periodizing the intensity (Ian Kings should love this)
is the right thing to do, alternating between somewhat high intensity, but brief (10-15 minutes);
and low intensity, but longer duration (40 minutes).
My question is when is the best time to DO the aerobics. It seems like there are a few possibilities:

  1. Before a weight training workout. In this case, your heart hasn’t gotten going yet from the weight training,
    but perhaps you burn more fat during the weight training workout then you otherwise would of. Of course,
    you may be neurologically drained from the aerobics, so you don’t get a good weight session in.
  2. After a weight training workout. In this case, you already have your heart going, but your putting
    off your post-workout meal for a while, which may not allow you to capitalize on this anabolic window.
  3. On the off days: In this case you don’t have to worry about missing your anabolic window, but it
    may lead to overtraining. And then there’s the added twist of the Bill Phillips mindset of doing this
    on an empty stomach.

What do you guys think?

I fully understand the predicament you are explaining. Several writers on this site have gone into detail about aerobic training and its consequences on your LBM/strength levels. Search the back issues. I know Charles Poliquin is against using aerobics to lower body fat as it compromises strength and size. Rather, he recommends monitoring your carb intake in order to lose about 2lb of fat per week without much or any muscle loss. If you are going to go ahead with your walks/runs to nowhere, I think either immediately after your workouts OR first thing in the morning would be most effective. Obviously though, this will put you in a temporary catabolic state, but I personally find it very effective for fat loss. One of the problems with aerobics is that the fuel you use is what you will store; you are burning fat, but also training your body to store fat apparently(this is from Poliquin too!). This is the reason you see all these aeroba-heads carrying bodyfat even with a lot of TIME training.

What I do is do aerobic stuff first thing in the morning on my non weight training days. So 2 days a week i do slow boring aerobics for about a half hour and 1 day a week i do sprints for about 15 minutes. I also agree its more effective to do this on an empty stomach cause it maximizes fat burning. The main reason i don’t do aerobics on the same day as weights is because like you said it either messes up your workout(if done before) or you miss the anabolic window(if done after) To keep from overtraining I take a week off of aerobics every 3 weeks. Hope this helps.

Charles also mentioned at one of his seminars that doing aerobics on an empty stomach was bullshit and that it burned no more fat then doing them later in the day after eating.

Zman, I think that if you are on a very carb restricted diet, then maybe performing aerobics in a fed state will have the same effects. However, if you are taking in carbs, then I suspect that morning aerobics would be more effective due to lower insulin levels. Also, another reason I believe morning aerobics would be superior is that if you are using a fat loss product like MD6, it has been shown in studies that caffeine is not nearly as effective if used in a fed state. I know quite a few competetive athletes, including bodybuilders, that have to make weight classes, and their feedback seems to back this up.

Scott, I think your points are valid. I am much less dogmatic than many of the experts out there and feel that if something is working for you, don’t change it. I was just passing along info by Poliquin at his Altering Body Comp seminar. As far as personal experience, I have tried both ways and haven’t noticed a big enough difference in speed of fat loss to warrant picking one method over the other.

Zman, could you please give some more information about the Poliquin seminar you attended as I would like to make the trip from here in the UK to one of them, so I would appreciate your feedback? What were some of his answers to: 1.where one stores bodyfat directly affects approach 2.the best approach to each bodytype 3.the best fat-loss supplement combinations 4.how to accurately measure body composition changes 5.how to maximize thermogenics with minimal side effects?? Thanks for your time.

Thanks all for the advice - I think I’m going to try 2 days a week on my non-training days, one low intensity and one high intensity, both on the empty stomach - my weight routine is 4 days a week now, so this will give me one day off a week to (hopefully) recover. I’ll let everyone know how I’m doing (right now, I’m at 7.1% at 182 total lbs - I’d like to drop down about 2 lbs of fat).

Scott, I took about 8 pages of notes at that seminar and I don’t think the mods of this board would want me to use up that much space to answer those questions. I definitely recommend attending a Poliquin seminar if you can. It is well worth it!