Is THIS The Best Workout For Weight Loss?
You’ve heard it a million times—from official fitness guidelines to the trainer at your gym: Combining cardio and strength training is the best way to melt fat and lose weight. Right? Well, maybe not. New research from Duke University put that theory to the test and found that for weight loss, cardio is king.
The researchers, reporting in theJournal of Applied Physiology, randomly assigned more than 200 overweight adults to one of three, 8 month workout programs: Some performed vigorous cardio alone, others stuck solely to weight training, while others did a combination of both. At the end of the study, the cardio group lost both fat mass and overall weight.The strength-training group? Not so much. Yes, they gained muscle, but didn't lose any fat mass or weight. Those who combined cardio and strength training—meaning they performed three days of cardioplusthree days of strength training ever week—didn't lose more fat or weight than those who did cardio alone.
“Given our observations, it may be time to seriously reconsider the conventional wisdom that resistance training alone can lead to weight and fat loss,” says lead study author Leslie Willis, MS, an exercise physiologist at the Duke University Medical Center.
More from Prevention: 7 Weight Loss Mistakes Healthy Women Make
Willis and her colleagues aren't dismissing the value of strength training, she notes. Rather, they're stating that the strategy didn't enhance fat or weight loss in this study. Because the majority of American adults could reap significant health benefits from reduced body fat, researchers suggest that the best option—especially given our packed schedules—might very well be aerobic training. “When you lose fat, it is likely you are losing visceral fat," Willis says. "Which is known to have great health benefits.”
Not making a sprint for the treadmill just yet? Yes, a 45-minute stint of cardio can become drudgery even with the best playlist. But Shawna Kaminski, a certified personal trainer and author ofFemale Fat Loss Over 40, has some tips to keep the cardio flame alive:
Mix it upBreak up your jog with a quick set of 10 burpees or mountain climbers every minute. “Adding burpees and mountain climbers engages different muscle groups, giving you a full-body benefit,” Kaminski says.
Think outside the gymCan’t face the cardio room today? “Use stairs in your apartment building, or outside at a park,” Kaminski suggests. “You can throw in an extra challenge by doing a set of push-ups at the top and a set of squats at the bottom.” (You can even squeeze in fitness at home, with these 7 Workouts For Small Spaces.)
Try something newYour body quickly becomes acclimated to a workout if you do it everyday. Kamiski suggests trying Tabata—a method characterized by short bursts of intensity followed by recovery. “When you go at a higher intensity, your body continues to burn calories at a faster rate even after you stop exercising," she says.
Video: Workouts for Your Entire Body : How to Workout With a Weight Bar
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