For years there’s been an ongoing battle between cardio queens and weight room loyalists over which type of exercise is better for weight loss. Well, we may have a winner and you weight room clique members might be upset.
According to recent study out of Duke University, cardiovascular aerobic activity is the most effective and efficient for losing fat mass and overall body mass. In the study of 119 overweight or obese adults, aerobic exercise beat out resistance training and a combination of aerobic and resistance training in terms of losing fat mass.
Researchers gave three different exercise routines to participants: either aerobic activity only, equivalent to about 12 miles or 133 minutes per week; resistance training only, meaning three days per week of lifting weights for a total 180 minutes per week; or a combination of aerobic activity and weight lifting for a total 313 minutes per week. Before and after the exercise regimen, they tested the body compositions of each person. The results showed that those who did cardio-only lost the most weight and the most fat specifically. Those who did both cardio and weight lifting also lost fat mass and overall weight, though less so than cardio-only. This group also decreased their waist circumferences more than the cardio-only group, but researchers said that this was because their duration of exercise was more than double the cardio-only group. The resistance training only group didn’t lose a significant amount of fat or overall weight. In fact they gained lean body mass, leading to overall weight gain.
Does this mean we should all stop lifting weights? Well, no, of course not. Exercise isn’t a one-size fits all kind of deal. It depends on what your goals are. It’s important for everyone to find out what works for them. Your body may not respond to the same exercise and diet that someone else’s does. This study is focused solely on weight loss from obese individuals. And while weight loss may happen at the start, eventually the body will get used to their exercise routine and the weight loss will plateau. Mixing it up with weights will help kick-start that weight loss again. What the study leaves out and is important to note is that while someone may have gained weight from resistance training, weight is just a number and not the same thing as muscle density.
I say do it all. Try to have a well balanced approach to fitness and try to make it fun. Find something you like and stick with it. The results will come.