There’s an old joke that illustrates the problem with scales by claiming that the fastest weight loss is achieved by cutting off a limb. Although it’s a bit extreme, the fact remains – you want to lose fat and build lean mass to get a better body composition, not lose random weight.
Despite ridiculous ads with girls lifting weights light as feathers, we’ve recently seen a major improvement with more females lifting heavy. Unfortunately, there are still many who avoid weights because they don’t want to become “to muscular” (it’s not going to happen) so I thought I’d do a post highlighting the importance of resistance training on body composition.
A recently published study (1) went out to compare the effects of aerobic training (AT) and aerobic plus resistance training (AT+RT) during a 6-month weight loss intervention.
The AT group followed a personalized program lasting 60-min per session and performed 3 times a week (180-min/week) under the supervision of a sports physiologist. The aerobic training mode was running performed on a motor-driven treadmill or pedaling.
The AT+RT program was performed 3 times per week for 6 months and included 30 min of aerobic training plus 30 min of resistance training per session (180-min/week).
As you can see, they spent the same amount of time in the gym but they scheduled it differently which made a major difference. The AT group lost an average of 3 kg fat mass and 2.6 kg lean mass. The AT+RT group lost an average of 9.8 kg fat mass and gained 1.73 kg lean mass.
The authors summarize it with the following sentence:
The adolescents subjected to aerobic plus resistance training presented better results in body composition than the aerobic training group.
Here are two older studies that draw the same conclusion:
Combined aerobic resistance exercise leads to more gains on regional and whole body fat free mass than aerobic exercise. Combined aerobic resistance exercise was more effective in increasing the fat free mass of arms, trunk and whole body and decreasing percentage of fat of trunk in men and superior on reducing fat mass of legs in women when comparing with aerobic exercise. (2)
Comparison analyses showed a marked reduction in BMI and a significant reduction in muscle mass in the aerobic exercise group when compared to the resistance training group and the diet only group, respectively. (3)
To summarize, resistance training is extremely important if you want to get a better body composition with less fat mass. It will not only make you look better, it also comes with several health benefits that will improve the overall quality of your life.
1: Ackel-d’elia C, Carnier J, Bueno CR, et al. Effects of different physical exercises on leptin concentration in obese adolescents. Int J Sports Med. 2014;35(2):164-71.
2: Sanal E, Ardic F, Kirac S. Effects of aerobic or combined aerobic resistance exercise on body composition in overweight and obese adults: gender differences. A randomized intervention study. Eur J Phys Rehabil Med. 2013;49(1):1-11.
3: Suh S, Jeong IK, Kim MY, et al. Effects of resistance training and aerobic exercise on insulin sensitivity in overweight korean adolescents: a controlled randomized trial. Diabetes Metab J. 2011;35(4):418-26.