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Start the New Year with the Best Exercise Type for Burning Fat

Tim Boyer's picture
Exercise to burn fat

Start your New Year weight loss resolution with the most efficient type of exercise for burning fat in the least amount of time and effort for overweight adults, says a recent University study.

The consensus for a number of years toward losing weight has been that overweight adults need to do both aerobic exercise and resistance weight training to effectively and efficiently burn off excess weight. Basically, aerobic exercise functions by burning calories during exercise, whereas weight training functions by increasing muscle mass that is believed to raise a person’s metabolic rate while at rest and add onto the overall calories burned daily.

However, according to a new study by researchers at Duke University, studies addressing the actual benefit of weight training toward fat burning have thus far been inconclusive and in need of a comparative analysis pitting aerobic exercise, resistance training with aerobic exercise and resistance training alone, against each other using fat loss as the litmus test for which of the three is more efficient for helping overweight adults lose weight.

"Given that approximately two-thirds of adults in the United States are overweight due to excess body fat, we want to offer clear, evidence-based exercise recommendations that will truly help people lose weight and body fat," says the study’s lead author Leslie H. Willis, MS, an exercise physiologist at Duke Medicine.

According to the study titled “Effects of aerobic and/or resistance training on body mass and fat mass in overweight or obese adults” and published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, the study consisted of 234 overweight or obese participants who were placed into one of the three exercise training groups:

• Resistance training consisting of three days per week of weight lifting, three sets per day, 8-12 repetitions per set.

• Aerobic training consisting of approximately 12 miles per week.

• Aerobic plus resistance training consisting of three days a week, three sets per day, 8-12 repetitions per set for resistance training, plus approximately 12 miles per week of aerobic exercise.

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By the end of the study, approximately half of the participants completed the training, and the data consisting of their before and after total body mass, fat mass and lean body mass were analyzed between the three groups.

What the researchers found was that the aerobic and the aerobic plus resistance training groups lost approximately the same and the most amount of body mass and fat mass, whereas the resistance training-only group lost the least amount of fat, and actually gained weight.

Furthermore, the researchers found that from an efficiency standpoint balancing the health benefits with the time commitment that the aerobic exercise plus resistance training group required (which is about twice as much exercise effort/time than the aerobic exercise-only group), that it did not result in significantly more fat mass or body mass reduction over aerobic exercise alone.

The conclusion that the researchers drew from their data was that for overweight adults who are concerned primarily with reducing fat and body mass (as opposed to also including increasing lean muscle mass or gaining other health benefits related to weight training) is that aerobic exercise alone is the most efficient exercise type for losing weight.

"Balancing time commitments against health benefits, our study suggests that aerobic exercise is the best option for reducing fat mass and body mass," said Cris A. Slentz, PhD, a Duke exercise physiologist and study co-author. "It's not that resistance training isn't good for you; it's just not very good at burning fat."

For another informative article that discusses what researchers say is the most effective way to exercise to lose belly fat, follow this link to an article titled "New Belly Fat Weight Loss Exercise Takes Less Time and Works Better, Say Researchers."

Image Source: Courtesy of MorgueFile


“Effects of aerobic and/or resistance training on body mass and fat mass in overweight or obese adults” Journal of Applied Physiology December 15, 2012 vol. 113 no. 12 1831-1837; Leslie H. Willis et al.

Duke Medicine News and Communications: Aerobic Exercise Trumps Resistance Training for Weight and Fat Loss