What is the best way to lose weight or what is the best fat loss program?
There is a lot of back and forth on this topic and a lot of research will actually rank aerobic training as number one.
It is important to understand the way that people interpret research can also be different as-well. We are going to dissect a study done that was published in the journal of applied physiology called
Effects of aerobic and/or resistance training on body mass and fat mass in overweight or obese adults.
A lot of research ranks aerobic training as the foundation of weight loss but weight loss doesn’t account for changes in body composition. So where is the confusion coming from when reading research?
First, resistance training research can be hard to study and can be expensive. Often research subjects are untrained individuals so imagine the cost if researchers had to higher trainers to train all respondents in order to participate in the study keeping in mind all the other costs. It can also be hard to measure effort. This is why researchers often use machines to decrease the need for teaching the exercise and amount of supervision.
Aeribic exercise is easier to teach than weight training exercises and they don’t need to higher a trainer to put someone on a bike or treadmill.
Furthermore it is hard to gauge effort with resistance training vs aerobic you can look at vo2 max vs rpe (rate of perceived exertion) for resistance training.
The next Major point is a lot of studies measure weight loss vs fat loss. Let’s dive into the study.
Effect of aerobic and or resistance traning on body mass and fat mass in overweight or obese adults
The study took place over an 8 month period of time and participants were split into 3 groups.
Groups 1 – Resistance Training
Group 2 Aerobic Training
Group 3 Resistance + Aerobic training
When Looking at total weight loss comparison the resistance training group gained 1.84 pounds, the only aerobic group lost 3.9 lbs, the combined group lost 3.6 lbs. So from strictly looking at this data and asking whats best for immediate weight loss you would think the takeaways are aerobic training is best for weight loss. right?
But we have to look a little bit deeper than this and look at body composition the weight training group had the greatest increase in lean body mass, they packed on some muscle and had a very modest drop in body fat. This gives a different perspective compared to just looking at weight loss. The aerobic group did lose more weight but they also lost muscle and long term as muscle loss continues it can cause a problem. So we also have to take body composition in account to see more of the picture.
Group 3 had the best results overall they had a comparable lean body mass gain but also trumped the other groups in fat loss. This would say a combination of aerobic and resistance training is ideal for weight loss and muscle gain.
We do have to look at one more factor “time being spent”, efficiency is also important. Technically the aerobic group had the best weight loss for time spent. The aerobic + resistance training group spent 2.3 times longer exercising than the aerobic group. But the combined group had the best results. With weight training protocol there is a lot more rest time compared to aerobic training which is usually straight work.
The next big question is can we get the same or better results as group 3 in less time?
One answer to that question lies in different types if interval training to maximize both cardio, resistance training and minimize the amount of time your need to work.
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L. H. Willis, C. A. Slentz, L. A. Bateman, A. T. Shields, L. W. Piner, C. W. Bales, J. A. Houmard, W. E. Kraus. Effects of aerobic and/or resistance training on body mass and fat mass in overweight or obese adults. Journal of Applied Physiology, 2012; 113 (12): 1831 DOI: 10.1152/japplphysiol.01370.2011