Long held beliefs that resistance training alone can lead to weight and fat loss may need to be reconsidered. In a study conducted in North Carolina, researchers found that when it comes to weight and fat loss, aerobic training is better than resistance training for previously inactive overweight or obese non-diabetic adults. In the study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, subjects were enrolled in one of three eight-month supervised protocols: aerobic training, resistance training, or a combination of both. The aerobic training occurred at about 70-85% of maximum heart rate for 45 minutes on three days per week, while the resistance training (also three days per week) targeted all major muscle groups by completing three sets of 8-12 reps on eight different resistance machines.

Researchers found that the groups assigned to aerobic training and aerobic plus resistance training lost more weight than those that did resistance training alone. The study concluded that fat mass and waist circumference were significantly decreased in the aerobic and the aerobic/resistance training groups, and that lean body mass was increased in both the resistance and aerobic/resistance training groups. Having the benefit of both modes of exercise allowed the aerobic/resistance training groups to decrease body fat percentage significantly more than either aerobic or resistance alone, due to the decreased fat mass combined with increased lean body mass.

Regardless of what the current fitness ‘trends’ will tell you, it is important to look at the research that shows what works for specific populations. Not all exercise programs are for all individuals, if you are interested in fat loss, consider incorporating a combination of both aerobic training as well as resistance training to get optimal results.

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