It was more effective than a combo of cardio + weights, too
When thinking about weight loss, many of us will first think of cardio. Fewer calories in, more calories out (i.e., a calorie deficit), usually achieved through long slogs on the treadmill or sweat sessions on the exercise bike. But in exciting news for all those who may not enjoy cardio, new research looking into the impacts of strength training compared to cardio on fat loss, has revealed that strength training may be the best option if your goal is to shed fat.
The nine-month study involved 186 people with type II diabetes with a weight in the healthy BMI range, and was used to measure the optimal exercise regime for fat loss in this group of individuals.
Three different exercise regimes were compared: strength training three times per week, moderate-to-vigorous endurance training three times per week, or a time-equated combination. Controlled groups also reportedly followed the same macronutrient intakes (i.e., how much protein, carbohydrates and fat they consumed).
The results revealed that while both groups lost weight, the strength-only group experienced a greater loss in fat, as well as a significant increase in strength and lean muscle mass, and a far greater decrease in insulin resistance as compared to the cardio group.
According to experts, this increase in muscle mass is important for losing fat since it acts as a big 'sponge to soak up excess glucose', which contributes to improved regulation of blood sugar. When there is too much insulin and blood sugar in your bloodstream, your body winds up putting that excess sugar in storage, which can cause weight gain.
While all groups lost fat, another tick for strength training was that participants were the only group who underwent significant body recomposition ie. lean muscle to fat mass ratio.
The research supports the science on strength training which is known for supporting the body in weight loss, for its ability to boost the metabolism by building muscle - muscle is more metabolically active, meaning the more you have, the more calories you burn at rest - which in turn, prevents obesity.
While many of you may happily ditch cardio permanently, skipping it out completely isn’t necessarily advised. A 2022 study published by The British Journal of Sports Medicine suggested that combining both cardiovascular and strength training, with just one hour a week of cardio led to a lower risk of mortality
Better lung and heart health, reduced risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, and cancer are all good reasons for not hanging up the running shoes for good.
It’s important to remember that healthy habits are built through consistency and perhaps most crucially, enjoyment. Whether you’re a weights-only kind or girl or you love nothing more than a 10k on a Saturday morning and wince at the mere sight of a dumbbell, what’s most important is that you’re doing whatever it is that gets you exercising and feeling the best you can. Capiche?