Cardio. You know, those 10 minutes spent on the StairMaster at the end of your gym session.
Few of us find it fun, but it’s an essential part of any weight loss journey. Or is it?
New research has shown that resistance training is also an effective way to lose body fat, when combined with the right diet.
Let’s take a deeper look into the research to find out what it says and what it could mean for people who want to lose body fat.
Researchers at Edith Cowen University in Australia and the University of Caxias do Sul in Brazil joined forces on this review study.
They analysed data from 4,184 participants classed as either overweight or obese across 116 studies investigating weight loss. Of the 116 studies, 23 focused on children and adolescents, 30 focused on young adults, 38 examined middle-aged adults, and 25 examined older adults.
Resistance training was the sole weight loss method for nearly half of the studies (49%). 45% of the studies used a combination of weight training and cardio, and the rest involved some combination of weight training, cardio and calorie restriction.1
The researchers concluded a combination of resistance training and calorie restriction was the most effective strategy for losing body fat, with participants on these plans losing an average of 5kg (11lb) of fat mass.
They also saw significant results from resistance training alone as well as methods that combined resistance training with cardio.
Interestingly, plans that involved resistance training and calorie reduction had similar results to plans that combined resistance training and aerobic exercise with calorie reduction.
So the ideal weight loss plan would involve reduced calories and weight training. And you can always include aerobic exercise too, if you fancy it.
The researchers also believe the results show that resistance training is an effective option for people wanting to lose body fat but who may struggle with cardio-based exercise, which can be the case for people with obesity.
Lead researcher, Pedro Lopez, said: “This group may be uncomfortable by the prospect of 30 or 40 minutes on a treadmill or a bicycle … They can injure knees, joints, ligaments and more because they have to carry their whole body weight during a lot of aerobic exercises.”1
Take home message
If you want to lose some body fat but get bored on the treadmill, can’t bear the bike, and have nightmares about the StairMaster, don’t worry — cardio isn’t the only way.
Picking up a pair of dumbbells and doing some resistance training is an effective weight loss strategy when combined with reduced calories.