To the weight lifter, aerobic training is like a double-edged sword. If done at the proper intensity, interval and duration level, this training will give the lifter many benefits. On
the other hand if these factors are not carefully apportioned, aerobic training can deplete the body's resources and put the lifter in an over trained and catabolic state. This state
would cause the lifter to lose both strength and muscle mass.
Aerobic training has numerous benefits and can be beneficial for strength and size gains. Aerobic activity flushes oxygen through the body, thereby increasing the number and size of blood vessels. Blood vessels are the body's primary supply routes for transporting oxygen and nutrients to the muscles. These vessels also play a major role in removing waste products such as lactic acid from the muscles. When your blood vessels are made more efficient, your muscles will recover much quicker, which in turn will promote strength and anabolism.
Activity that is aerobic is known to strengthen the heart, and to increase lung capacity and fat burning. I have noticed my athletes generally feel better when I add aerobic training to their routines. They seem to feel more energy and are in a better mood throughout the day. On top of that these athletes also feel their muscles are much harder and tighter. These results are probably due to the fat loss produced by the aerobic activity.
Aerobic training also helps increase one's endurance, which I feel is very important for getting through general everyday life. You don't want to be one of those powerhouses who impresses everybody in the gym with the poundage's he can throw around but then makes people laugh when he tries to carry his groceries up a flight of stairs.
Even with all the benefits mentioned above you still have to be careful when introducing aerobic activity to your routine, especially if strength is a primary concern. Two main points to remember with respect to training are timing and intensity. First, you should not be doing aerobic training year round. You should phase it in and out throughout the year. It should particularly be phased out at least three months before any power lifting contest, or during a mass-building phase. You should not do more than four aerobic-training sessions a week, and each session should not be longer than 45 minutes.
The intensity level at which you do aerobics is very important. You can't train as a marathon runner does and expect to keep all your strength. High-intensity aerobic training can heavily tax the glycogen stores in your muscles. As a weight lifter you want to keep all that glycogen for more important activities such as lifting weights. To prevent extreme glycogen loss you should stick to less intense aerobic activities. A good measure of the intensity level of any aerobic activity is heart rate when participating in it. In order to prevent muscle loss you should try to perform aerobic exercises at 65 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate (MHR). A quick way to calculate your MHR is to subtract your age from 220. For example, if you are 25 years old your MHR would be 195 beats per minute. When performing aerobic activity the ideal range in which you would want your heart rate is 127 to 137 beats per minute.
In summary, aerobic training is important for good health, fat burning and muscle building. I highly recommend aerobics to power lifters. Remember to keep a check on how frequently and intensely you train and you should get all the benefits without the loss in strength.