Want to lose weight? We’ve been told that strength training can help boost calorie- and fat-burning, but according to a new study, that may not be so. In fact, researchers now say that the best way to lose weight is through aerobic training–like running, not lifting weights.
Researchers evaluated 234 overweight and obese adults who did not exercise regularly. The participants were then assigned to one of three workouts: weight lifting three days per week, running 12 miles a week, or a combination of the two (three days of weights plus 12 miles of running). After a period of eight months, the participants who did the combination workouts and those who did strictly running lost the most weight and body fat.
What’s interesting here is that the group who did both strength training and running each week didn’t lose any more weight or fat than those who only ran–even though they put in significantly more time for their workouts.
Study researcher Cris Slentz, an exercise physiologist at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina explained that more is not always more when it comes to 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. It’s not that resistance training isn’t good for you; it’s just not very good at burning fat.
Of course, this doesn’t mean we should ignore past research that tells us weight training is not only good for building lean muscle mass, but it’s also necessary for preventing bone loss and muscle mass as we age. It’s just that when trying to focus on losing weight at the beginning of a weight loss program, aerobic exercise appears to be the best bet.
Study researcher Leslie Willis, an exercise physiologist at Duke, agrees:
No one type of exercise will be best for every health benefit. However, it might be time to reconsider the conventional wisdom that resistance training alone can induce changes in body mass or fat mass due to an increase in metabolism, as our study found no change.
Findings like this are good for those who are short on time and want to find the most effective and efficient way to lose weight. Plus, what better time to start a running regimen than now, during peak running season!