Fat Loss Strength Training vs. Cardio/aerobics

If you’re intending on starting a new weight loss journey but dread the thought of never-ending cardio routines & long jogs, read this article about a pioneering new research reported in Sports Medicine, which will sound like music to your ears. (Source 1)

Read on to learn exactly what this ground breaking new research reported in Sports Medicine new research found!

Few Words About Cardio

Cardio does help you lose weight, but is not an optimum way to lose fat and tone up your body. Moreover, a natural disdain after running and other forms of strenuous cardio workouts is a common complaint among fitness newcomers and seasoned trainers alike.

For example, one survey put together by Health Digest revealed running as “the least favorite way to work out” with a surprising 38.3% of respondents choosing it as their least favorite exercise.

Likewise, another even bigger poll featuring 25,000 habitual runners from all over the world revealed that about 50% either “hate running” or “hardly tolerate it.” Majority of people look for better options other than cardio to lose weight because they don’t enjoy running, sprinting, or cycling to burn fat and tone up?

It may sound like unreal, but there’s now convincing scientific proof that cardio isn’t the optimum way to lose weight and tone up. There are some options that not only can help you lose weight, but also make your body look lean.

Strength training burns fat too!

The researchers from University of New South Wales conducted an exhaustive, comprehensive meta-analysis of prior relevant research papers covering 58 studies and about 3,000 people. The researchers found that strength training alone can result in a 1.4% reduction in an individual’s total body fat, which is about the same amount of weight loss one can expect from cardio.

The senior study author Dr. Mandy Hagstrom”, exercise physiologist and senior lecturer at UNSW Medicine & Health says: “A lot of people think that if you want to lose weight, you have to go out and run. But our findings found that even when strength training is done on its own, it still leads to a favorable loss of body fat without having to go for running and consciously dieting.” (Source 2)

Lots of earlier studies had probed the relationship between weight training and fat loss, but most worked on very small collections of subjects and only monitored participants for a short period of time. With an aim to get a clearer picture, the authors of this project combined and analysed multiple studies to form a cumulative dataset.

Dr. Hagstrom explains: “It can be really difficult to determine whether there’s an effect or not based on a single study alone. So, we combined all of these studies together to effectively create one large study, and got a much clearer idea of what’s going on.”

[Read here: Safety Guidelines For Strength Training]

The research

All of the prior studies used for this project had used “highly accurate” methods of gauging body fat like body scans, which are capable of differentiating between lean mass and fat mass. The best part is that all participants across all studies had no earlier experience of weight training. This shows it’s never too late to begin strength training and burning fat.

Now, though each study, of course, used slightly different strength-building regimens and time periods, researchers say, on average, participants generally worked out for about 45-60 minutes, 2-3 times a week for a period of five months.

After completing their respective strength training programs, subjects flaunted an average body fat reduction of 1.4%. That equated to about 1.1 pounds of lost fat mass for most participants.

Dr. Hagstrom says: “Resistance training does so many other great things to the body than other forms of exercise don’t, such as building muscle mass, improving muscle quality and increasing bone mineral density. Now, we know it also offers a benefit (weight loss) we previously thought only came from aerobics.”

Scales don’t tell the complete story

Stepping on the scale only tells a part of the story.

When we do cardio such as running or cycling, we burn fat and lose weight. On the other hand, when we do weight training, we burn fat and gain muscle also. So, after strength training even though you have lost fat, but the scale does not show the full amount of fat loss because of the weight of the extra muscle you just built. This explains why do many people still presume that building strength and lifting weights won’t get them anywhere from a fat-loss perspective.

Dr. Hagstrom explains: “In general, you don’t gain any muscle mass when you do aerobic training. Aerobic training helps improve your cardiorespiratory fitness, gain other health and functional benefits, and lose body fat. But when you do strength training, you gain muscle mass as well along with losing body fat, thus the number on the scales won’t look as low as it would after aerobics training, particularly because muscle weighs more than fat.”

To resolve this inaccuracy in their own research, scientists focused particularly on total body fat percentage variations following weight training sessions. Definitely, the amount of fat loss post weight training was “on par” with both cardio and aerobics.

Dr. Hagstrom adds: “A plenty of fitness recommendations are based on studies that use inaccurate measurement devices such as scales or bioelectrical impedance. If you want to transform how your body looks and do weight training, then you don’t need to focus on the number on the scale too much, because it won’t tell you all the results. Instead, think about your whole body composition and factors such as how your clothes fit and how your body feel, and move, differently.”

A little bit of this, a little bit of that

These discoveries are a ground breaking initial step toward a more thorough understanding of how strength training can change your body, but there is undeniably still much more to research and study. The study authors acknowledge that this work didn’t dive into the specifics of how strength training intensity, duration, or frequency influences fat-burning outcomes.

In conclusion, whereas it is surely a welcome news that weight training burns fat, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t do cardio or ignore diet. The best approach to build a lean and toned body is still a combination of clean eating and both cardio as well as strength training.

Having said that, when it comes to weight loss, cardio is still not the end-all-be-all. To transform your body composition, do what exercise you like to do and what you’re most likely to stick to.

About Author: Renu Bakshi, AKA Fitness Buffhq, is ISSA Certified Elite Trainer. He passed Renu Bakshi AKA Fitness BuffhqPersonal Fitness Trainer Course, Nutrition Health Coach course & Specialist Exercise Therapy course from ISSA, USA obtaining + 97% marks. He shares his experience and knowledge about nutrition and effective workouts to get you in the best shape of your life, no matter how old you may be. The author says: “For me age is just a number!”

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