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Does weight training offer aerobic fitness benefits?

In many gyms, machines are arranged in a sequence, or circuit, and some trainers have claimed that by moving quickly through a machine circuit, it is possible to raise your heart rate to the point where you get aerobic benefits for your cardiovascular system.

However, most researchers believe that because weight training demands only short bursts of power by specific muscle groups, rather than continuously working large muscles, it contributes little to improving cardiovascular efficiency, which is indicated by a lower resting heart rate, among other signs. A study of Belgian Olympic weightlifters found that while these men possessed a high level of strength, their levels of aerobic fitness were about the same as those of the general population.

An aerobic-training programme that benefits the cardiovascular system involves sustained activity by the body's large muscle groups for at least 20 minutes at a stretch - running, cycling or brisk walking, for instance.

While weight training allows you to overload your muscles systematically and with great precision (and for that reason it has been the cornerstone of the most effective strength-building regimens) it will not produce the same kind of weight loss that an aerobic exercise programme will provide, because it will not use up calories as quickly.

Therefore, a weight-training programme should be performed in addition to regular aerobic exercise.

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