As we learned this week, powerlifting is not just for the obnoxious muscle heads who fill the gym with loud grunts, tons of testosterone and minor earthquakes every time they drop heavy barbells to the floor. It’s for any woman too who wants to get lean, toned, strong and a healthy kick-ass dose of confidence. But one thing weight lifting won’t do, according to new research, is trim our waistlines.
Scientists from Duke University Medical Center compared the benefits of aerobic exercise, resistance–or weight-training and a combination of the two. After an eight-month study where they followed 196 overweight people, they found aerobic exercise to be the most efficient and most effective way to lose belly fat. And by belly fat, they don’t mean the fat that lies closest to your skin and causes the dreaded muffin top. It’s the fat deeper in your abdomen–the more dangerous kind because it fills the space in between our vital organs and is a known cause of heart disease, diabetes, and certain kinds of cancer. In fact, the researchers say where you have fat deposited is more important than how much fat you have.
The key to getting rid of this fat doesn’t lie in doing more crunches–or any kind of ab work for that matter. It’s all about burning calories says lead author of the study and Duke exercise physiologist, Dr. Cris Slentz:
Resistance training is great for improving strength and increasing lean body mass. But if you are overweight, which two thirds of the population is, and you want to lose belly fat, aerobic exercise is the better choice because it burns more calories.
In fact, aerobic exercise (like power walking, running, cycling, swimming or just about any workout that gets your heart rate up for a sustained period of time) was found to burn 67% more calories than resistance training. This is not to say strength training isn’t important for other reasons and shouldn’t be a part of your weekly workout regimen too because many other studies have shown that lifting weights can not only make you stronger and less injury-prone, it will boost your metabolism. Plus, a body with lean muscle mass can better stave off osteoporosis, high cholesterol, depression, certain types of cancer and diabetes.
Just remember, specifically targeting one area of the body where we want to lose inches–or “spot reduction”– doesn’t work. A smaller belly comes with burning calories and then weights and abs exercises can be used to tone it.