“Aerobic” means “with oxygen” and the exercises involve more muscles – such as those of the legs – continuously engaged. Most bodybuilders, like other active people who exercise regularly, perform certain types of aerobics.
The frequency and duration of an aerobic session are about immediate goals. For example, bodybuilders increase their aerobic type exercise duration during the pre-competitional period from 45 to 90 minutes a day and even at 120, often divided into two sessions, for 5-6 days a week. The goal is to burn as much fat by following a right diet.
Since fat can be oxidized or burned in the presence of oxygen, it is logical that aerobic exercises that require the highest intake of oxygen, to be the most effective way to burn fat. Aerobics sessions are best for preventing cardiovascular disease, an important aspect of training. Performing aerobic exercise regularly, increases the level of a protective layer of cholesterol, which is known as high density lipoprotein which, according to studies conducted by experts, shows a high degree of protection against cardiovascular disease.
The style chosen by most bodybuilders is a type of continuous, slow, low intensity, often involving treadmill or stationary bicycle training. Although it is an effective way to burn calories, it is not necessarily the best way to maximize fat burning during exercise. Also, this type of moderate aerobic performed by long periods of rest, can reduce the effects of strength training , especially if it is too long. Though it is possible to reduce the fat, you reduce muscle mass gained with so much effort. Recent research shows, however, that bodybuilders can perform both ways – burning fat and preserving muscle mass – just by changing the style of performing aerobics. Change relates to the transition from mild exercise, with long pauses between them, to training conducted at regular intervals, meaning high intensity workouts, interspersed with low intensity workouts. It is possible that this type of training is not as relaxing as the conservative style, approached by many people, but the results are much more satisfying – to burn more fat in a much shorter time preserving muscle mass.
The idea that training at regular intervals is an effective fat burning exercise was evidenced by a study conducted by a team of researchers in the field of physiology in Canada, ten years ago. Four years later, they published the results of this study, which implied obese women who were performing aerobic exercises on intervals. Subjects lost nine times more fat through this type of exercise than through exercise, conducted at great intervals.
Why does this training lead to significant fat burning? Reps with high intensity, associated with this style of training, favors the increase of the amount of muscle lactate and citrate, which inhibits a process called glycogenolysis, i.e. switching glycogen into glucose. When this happens, the muscle cells are forced to use fat as an energy source during exercise.
Theoretically, this fat burning activity should lead to shorter and intense aerobic sessions – enabling the conservation of mass and glycogen, reducing the negative effects of overtraining.
Another benefit of interval training is that it enables you to get closer to what physiologists call “anaerobic threshold”. This refers to the level of exercise intensity that makes the transition from aerobic metabolism to the anaerobic. Anaerobic threshold is reached when products of muscle fatigue, such as lactic acid, grow to a certain level due to high intensity exercise. This product is degraded when you perform the low intensity of exercise. As a result, the muscles can “rest” between sets better. To perform this workout you need to increase the intensity of the aerobic exercises that you chose to about 90% of the maximum possible (90% of the difference between 220 and your age), keep it up for 2 minutes, then decrease the intensity to 50-60%. When you feel rested enough, increase the intensity and so on. The fat burning effect after a session of 30 minutes at this rate is probably equal to that of a one-hour slow training session.
If you just started to practice this style, approach it slowly, with two halves, increasing intensity during training, then gradually increasing the number of halves, four or more during a 30-minute session.