If you want to shed some pounds and some body fat should you lift weights or go for the aerobic classes? Well new studies indicate the aerobic exercise is the best way to burn off the fat. Researchers at Duke University compared the effects of aerobic exercise versus resistance training on body fat in overweight and obese adults (Journal of Applied Physiology).
Many professionals have recommended both aerobic exercise and resistance training for weight loss: Aerobic exercise to burn calories and fat and resistance training to build and maintain muscle mass which also increases a person’s metabolic rate.
In this study, 234 participants were overweight or obese (119 participants completed the study). Researchers divided them into one of three exercise groups:
- Resistance training: 3 times a week, 8-12 repetitions, 3 sets a day, about 180 minutes
- Aerobic training – 12 miles a week or about 133 minutes
- Aerobic + resistance – 3 times a week, 8-12 repetitions, 3 sets a day plus 12 miles per week of aerobic exercise.
What did they find? To lose body fat, aerobic exercise was the most effective.
Does this mean that resistance training is not of benefit? No. For older adults resistance training is important in maintaining muscle mass and preventing muscle loss. It also helps improve glucose control. In my classes, many young men want to build muscle and resistance training will build lean body mass.
Thus, both resistance training and aerobic exercise have health benefits. If one wants to focus on reducing body fat and has limited time, then aerobic exercise is their best option. If one want to build lean body mass then one also needs resistance training.