Aerobic exercise trumps strength training for weight loss

Think pumping iron will help you quickly shed pounds? Think again.

CNN Health reported on a study by Duke University researchers showing aerobic exercise burns fat more efficiently than strength training.

In the study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, researchers categorized 119 overweight, but otherwise healthy middle-aged people into three groups: One for Resistance Training (RT), one for Aerobic Training (AT), and one combination of the two.

The results looked at the change in total body mass, fat mass and lean mass over an eight month period. The AT group exercised primarily on treadmills and elliptical machines for 133 minutes per week. The RT group lifted weights for 180 minutes per week, and the combined group did both, also for 180 minutes per week. The people who did only AT lost more body mass and fat mass in half the time of those who did only RT. Those who did both AT and RT lost the same amount of body mass and fat mass as the AT group, but their exercise sessions also took twice as long to achieve the same results.

However, RT exercises increased lean body mass more than AT. Lean body mass is important for weight control and long-term health. Researchers reached the conclusion that AT (also called cardio) is more effective for faster weight loss, but RT is very beneficial for maintaining ideal weight. Melina Jampolis, a nutrition specialist, explained:

If you are short on time and are not dieting, cardio is better for weight loss in the short-term, but we don’t know in the long-term. And in my opinion, to maintain weight loss and achieve optimal health, strength training is still very important.

So if you want to drop pounds quickly, jump on the treadmill or the stationary bike. Once you get down to your desired weight, pick up those dumbbells.