If you’re thinking of starting a new weight loss plan but despise the thought of never-ending cardio routines & long jogs, then this article is for you. It talks about a new research study in Sports Medicine that will sound like music to your ears. (Source 1)
Should You Do Cardio Or Strength Training To Lose Fat?
Read on to learn what the groundbreaking new research says about Fat Loss and Cardio vs. Strength Training.
Few Words About Cardio
Though cardio helps lose weight, it’s not an optimum way to lose fat and tone up your body. Moreover, fatigue after running and other forms of strenuous cardio workouts is a common complaint whether beginners or seasoned trainers.
For example, one survey 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 worldwide revealed that about 50% either “hate running” or “hardly tolerate it.” Most people look for better options than cardio to lose weight because they don’t enjoy running, sprinting, or cycling to burn fat and tone up.
It may sound unreal, but there’s no convincing scientific proof that cardio is not the optimum way to lose weight and tone up. There are some alternatives that not only can help you lose weight but also make your body look lean.
Strength training burns fat too!
The researchers from the University of New South Wales conducted an exhaustive, comprehensive meta-analysis of previous 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, 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)
Many earlier studies had probed the relationship between weight training and fat loss, but most worked on small groups of subjects and only monitored participants for a short period. To get a clearer picture, the authors of this project combined and analyzed multiple studies to form a cumulative dataset.
Dr. Hagstrom explains: “It can be complicated to determine whether there’s an effect or not based on a single study alone. So, we combined all of these studies to create one large study effectively and got a clearer idea of what’s going on.”
Latest Research On Strength Training Vs. Cardio For Fat Loss
All studies included in this project used “highly accurate” methods of gauging body fat, like body scans, which can differentiate between lean 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 used slightly different strength-building regimens and time periods, researchers say that participants generally worked out for about 45-60 minutes, 2-3 times a week for five months.
After completing their respective strength training programs, subjects showed 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 came from aerobics only.”
Scales don’t tell the complete story.
Stepping on the scale only tells a part of the story. We burn fat and lose weight when we do cardio, such as running or cycling. 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, the scale does not show the total amount of fat loss because of the weight of the extra muscle you just built. This explains why many 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 cardiorespiratory fitness, gain other health and functional benefits, and lose body fat. But when you do strength training, you gain muscle mass and lose 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. Fat loss after weight training was “on par” with both cardio and aerobics.
Dr. Hagstrom adds: “Mant fitness recommendations are based on studies that use inaccurate measurement devices such as scales or bioelectrical impedance. If you want to improve your body, do weight training, and you won’t need to focus on the number on the scale too much because it doesn’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 feels and moves differently.”
A little bit of this, a little bit of that
These discoveries are a groundbreaking initial step toward a more thorough understanding of how strength training can change your body. However, 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, it is undoubtedly 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 building 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.
Sources: Weight Loss Support
About Author: Renu Bakshi, AKA Fitness Buffhq, is ISSA Certified Elite Trainer. He passed Personal 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!”