Instead, a combination of resistance training and aerobics will lead to the most impressive, and longest lasting improvements in body composition. Of course, it’s pretty difficult to draw reliable conclusions about the relative effectiveness of exercise programs that are ineffective in the first place! Finally, researchers in this study didn’t seem too concerned about the difference between fat loss and lean mass loss. Do you like walking up stairs on your own or would you rather take one of those home stair lifts? On a more serious note: For a while, I researched treatments for muscular dystrophy, a disease that causes severe muscle loss. My biggest peeve in the weight loss industry is that weight loss is the measurement for success. Since REE is the biggest part of your total energy use in a given day, it can change how many calories you burn [1] . If you really want to know how much energy muscle uses, take a look at the calculations below. How much protein is synthesized by muscle in a given hour (this is called fractional synthetic rate, or FSR). Four moles of ATP (energy cells use) are required for each mole of amino acids used to make protein. Don’t confuse Robert Wolfe, the protein turnover researcher, with Robb Wolf, the Paleo guy. Second, remember that a frail elderly woman has a muscle mass of 13 kg compared to 50 kg for a healthy, young male. Meanwhile, if she had more muscle mass, she would be using more energy just by sitting in her rocker! But she could put on some muscle, or at the very least she could slow down how much muscle she loses each year.
Meanwhile, Bob decides to drink less soda and manages to cut down to one can a week from his usual four.
There are many physiological reasons, but the difference in their muscle mass is one of the biggies. The other thing you might notice is that since Mary has more muscle and weighs more overall, despite having the same amount of fat, she actually has a lower percentage of body fat.
Let’s say you and your friend decide to start two different weight loss programs at the same time. Of course, this is an oversimplification, because muscle and fat are not the only things at play. When it comes to making sense of studies like the one under review, it is really important to take note of the methods. Before I get into the particulars of this study, you need to understand that studies about resistance training are notoriously difficult to do.
Not only that, but most resistance training studies use machines to minimize the need for supervision and teaching the exercise.
Even if the researchers did take the time to teach subjects to move properly with free weights, they would then need someone to supervise and spot them.
Put it all together and you can see why using machines becomes a more attractive alternative, even though machines are not as effective. Aerobic exercise, on the other hand, isn’t that hard to teach and doesn’t need a lot of supervision.
Aerobic training doesn’t present this problem because you can use gas analysis and blood sampling to tell if someone has hit their peak oxygen utilization capacity (VO2peak). On the positive side, this study included a lot of participants (196) and it went on for months — eight months, to be exact. Something pretty unique about this study is the age range of the volunteers, who ranged from 18 to 70 years old.

While I think it’s a good thing to have a varied group, this may be taking things a little too far, since it is tough to generalize about any particular age group based on these results. After all, it seems fair to assume that Granny and 20-year-old jock Joey are going to respond very differently to an exercise regime.  Too bad there was no meta-analysis to see whether and how that was true. After the volunteers signed up for the study there was a 4-month control period to get rid of less motivated recruits before the researchers put the volunteers into one of three groups.
Once a volunteer could lift a weight for 12 reps for all three sets the weight increased by 5 lb.
Now, if you stopped reading here, you’d come away with the misguided idea that if you want to fit into your skinny jeans or see your toes, aerobic training is the way to go. As you probably figured out from the earlier discussion, losing weight is not necessarily a good thing. When people talk of weight loss they usually think of fat loss, but one is not the same as the other.
Another relevant but unexplored question is how much exercise each group actually performed. Through a process of self-experimentation, I estimated that each set of resistance exercises would take no more than 84 seconds, with 24 total sets per workout. If you take a look at Figures 5 and 6, they show total exercise time (including rests between sets during weight training) and total exercise time minus rest.
Keep in mind that the resistance training in this study was not designed in any way to stress the cardiovascular system.
Too bad the researchers didn’t measure the strength of the aerobic group to see if they experienced similar crossover training effects. Usually Science Daily is pretty good at summing up the essence of studies, but they really missed the boat this time. They had lower dropout rates compared to the aerobic group, and improved cardiovascular performance. From this study, I’d conclude that a combination of aerobic and resistance training and working out 5 hours a week was the best for fat loss and cardiovascular fitness.
Note also, that while this study compares aerobic training and resistance training as if they are completely distinct entities, that isn’t, in fact, the case. And, of course, if you want to lose weight and fat, a combination of resistance exercise and cardio is likely best. In it you’ll learn the best eating, exercise, and lifestyle strategies – unique and personal – for you.
The study doesn’t actually conclude that aerobic exercise is better than resistance training for weight or fat loss.
Both the aerobic training program and the resistance-training program were less than optimal. Do that kind of research for a day or two, or talk to people with muscular dystrophy, and you’ll quickly recognize the vital importance of maintaining muscle, even if your goal is to lose weight.
Actually, to be more exact, the more muscle you carry, the higher your resting energy expenditure (REE).
In other words, unlike bone and skin cells, muscle generation is, to some extent, within your control. An average healthy male with 35-50 kg of muscle makes about 630 g to 900g of protein per day. Despite the similarity in names and the fact that both Wolves promote the eating of meat, they are actually different people. This doesn’t include extra calories used for exercise or walking to your car or rocking in that chair or whatever else you do. He gets to the gym when he can – maybe three times a week – but half the time, he ends up cutting his workout short. Jane and Mary both have the same amount of fat, but Mary has an extra 7 kg (15 lb) of muscle.

After 6 months, you’ve lost 10 kg by working out and eating right, while your friend has lost 11 kg by lying in bed drinking coffee and smoking. Well, they’re more involved than aerobics studies, potentially more dangerous, and it’s nearly impossible to measure subjects’ efforts in resistance training.
Meanwhile, effort can be tracked with some combination of a heart rate monitor and the onboard monitoring equipment.
Mostly they used Cybex machines, but at one location they switched to free weights for upper body exercises.
You can lose weight in a whole lot of ways and most of them aren’t good for you nor do they translate into fat loss. Since the researchers included the total exercise times per week, I was also able to estimate the rest between exercises. And lo and behold: Fat loss in this study is more closely related to actual exercise time than it is to exercise type. It doesn’t improve cardio fitness as much as aerobic training or combination training, but does improve it. The real fat-loss magic results from resistance training that is also aerobically demanding (metabolic resistance training). Effects of strength or aerobic training on body composition, resting metabolic rate, and peak oxygen consumption in obese dieting subjects. Resistance training increases total energy expenditure and free-living physical activity in older adults.
Effect of a hypocaloric diet, increased protein intake and resistance training on lean mass gains and fat mass loss in overweight police officers.
Influence of exercise training on physiological and performance changes with weight loss in men.  Med. Resistance Training Conserves Fat-free Mass and Resting Energy Expenditure Following Weight Loss. The effects of a 20-week exercise training program on resting metabolic rate in previously sedentary, moderately obese women.
Effect of acute resistance exercise on postexercise oxygen consumption and resting metabolic rate in young women.
Effect of weight training exercise and treadmill exercise on elevated post-exercise oxygen consumption. The role of diet and exercise for the maintenance of fat-free mass and resting metabolic rate during weight loss. Effect of an acute period of resistance exercise on excess post-exercise oxygen consumption: implications for body mass management.
Acute EPOC response in women to circuit training and treadmill exercise of matched oxygen consumption. And she wonders why it is accumulating so much faster than when she was younger (and more active…and…um…slightly more muscular). Jane watches what she eats, counts every calorie, and spends hours on the treadmill every day.
With downloadable software and weekly checks, researchers can see exactly how much exercise subjects do and the intensity – to the tenth of a calorie. Not bad, considering that VO2peak is thought to improve somewhere between 5-15% with targeted training.

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