Thursday, April 30, 2009

Researchers Prove Strength Training Is Better Than Cardio To Lose Belly Fat

If you're trying to drop pounds and lose belly fat you need to look at the big picture.

First and foremost is proper nutrition. Say it with me now, "You can't out-train a bad diet." :-)

After good eating habits comes exercise. Here's where many people are misinformed. Their first thought when they want to lose weight is to do cardio. It's understandable; I used to think the same thing.

If you compare the same number of minutes of strength training versus traditional cardio, cardio does burn more calories during that time. However, strength training burns more calories overall. How is that possible, you ask?

Afterburn. When you stop performing traditional cardio, your body stops burning extra calories pretty much right away. When you finish a weight training workout, your body's metabolism stays elevated for many hours afterward.

In fact, according to a study in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, women who completed an hour-long strength-training workout ended up burning an average of 100 more calories in the following 24 hours than they did when they hadn't lifted weights. 100 extra calories may not seem like much but it all adds up.

You can also increase your afterburn by increasing your weights. In a study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, women burned nearly twice as many calories in the two hours after their workout when they performed 8 reps with a challenging weight than when they completed 15 reps at a lower weight. (Always use good form, of course.)

Can you lose weight without exercising? Yes, but check this out...

University of Alabama at Birmingham researchers compared dieters who strength trained 3 times a week with those who did aerobic exercise for the same amount of time. Everyone ate the same number of calories and lost about the same amount of weight- 26 pounds. So why not just keep mindlessly walking on the treadmill while watching TV or reading a magazine?

Besides the fact that we need to maintain our muscle to maintain our independence as we age, the study participants who pumped iron lost pure fat while 8% of the aerobic exercisers weight loss came from muscle. You don't want to lose muscle! Besides its obvious physiological importance, muscle gives you that tight, defined look that most of us want. Ever hear the term "skinny fat"? Yuck.

I would love to know how many more inches and sizes were lost by the strength trainers than the aerobicizers. One pound of muscle takes up less space than a pound of fat so the weight lifters had to have ended up smaller than their cardio bunny counterparts.

And isn't that the real goal? Who cares how much weight you lost on the scale if you still look like cased sausage in your favorite outfit?

Another bonus for those who strength trained? Researchers discovered that pumping iron is better at reducing the intra-abdominal fat that's not only unflattering but is associated with multiple diseases, including cancer and diabetes.


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