Weightlifting and aerobic conditioning-a great match

Aerobic conditioning in its most basic form is exercising the heart and lungs or cardiorespiratory system. By placing added stress (i.e. exercise) on the system, the body can utilize its oxygen more efficiently, deliver more per beat and create a stronger system to withstand internal and external stressors placed upon it. How much should you do? What is your ultimate goal? If you want to run or walk 10 miles, then you need to plan your training schedule based on achieving that distance. The reason for doing a training regimen is not only to build up muscular endurance, but to train the circulatory and respiratory system to supply enough blood and oxygen to the muscles during the activity.However, if your goal is to sprint, then you will be activating the anaerobic system (used without oxygen). If you are going to be running or walking long distance, then you will be activating the aerobic component of your body (cardiorespiratory). There are variables to consider also. These also play a vital role in your conditioning:

  • Altitude – If you are exercising in an area that has a higher elevation gain than you are accustomed too, you need to practice at various altitudes. This is when your cardiorespiratory system needs to be well-conditioned. Exercising at higher elevation increases your heart rate, and your lungs will be working overtime to supply oxygen at a faster rate because of the decrease in oxygen at higher altitudes.
  • Hydration – Water is a vital component directly related to sweating and breathing, or your respiratory rate. When you breathe, you are expelling certain amount of water with every breath. Thirst seems to be more prominent the higher the elevation. The reason for this is because you are breathing in and out at a higher rate than your body is accustomed to getting the oxygen it needs and is used to getting at lower elevation levels.

Weight lifting:   Weight lifting is exercise that places stress on your muscles, bones, tendons, and ligaments that creates strength, endurance, and power. This is a vital component of a healthy body because we need to have a strong structure to keep us healthy for the rest of our lives. When we do not challenge our muscles through exercise and activity, our muscles are going to shrink (atrophy), our tendons and ligaments will become stiff or shortened, and our bones will become weaker. One of the positive aspects of resistance exercise is that it helps maintain bone density, which is a huge problem among women! The two most important components to weight lifting are breathing and proper form. Lifting a heavy weight is the easy part, but lifting heavy weight with correct form and breathe makes it much more challenging. If you take the time to learn the correct way, your body will thank you for many years to come. I suggest hiring a professional trainer in the beginning to learn the proper way. Once you are comfortable, you can go on your own. If you are just beginning weight lifting,  I would not do more than two times per week in order for your body to get used to the additional stress being placed on those muscles. Also, when starting out, full body workouts are a perfect way to introduce this type of exercise to the beginner and it will allow them to get the most benefit.  Combinbing both practices should include what is the ultimate goal? If you want to increase your muscle mass, then you want to increase the frequency of weight lifting, consult a nutritionist/registered dietitian, and practice limited aerobic activity. constantly change the exercises up so you keep creating positive results (avoid stagnation).If you don’t feed your muscles, they will not grow (plain and simple).  Monitor your intake for the proper amount protein, carbohydrates, fats and calories. If you are not eating properly, then you will yield poor results. You need to rest! You do not grow and recover the gym; you experience this when you are sleeping, socializing, working or just relaxing at home. If you do not rest, your muscles will become over-trained and that is when injuries and illnesses began to become more frequent. If your goal is to improve your cardiorespiratory system (aerobic component), then do weight lifting only two times per week and focus on different cardio exercises, including biking, running, hiking, and fitness classes. And if you just want to maintain a balance between the two, then you can do both weight lifting and aerobic conditioning on the same day.

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