Strength Training

April 20, 2010

Strength Training and Metabolic Rate

I recently received an email response to one of my television appearances questioning my assertion that strength training helps to improve metabolism. As I responded to this individual, the research on the subject speaks for itself. Here is the lowdown…

First, there is a large body of evidence showing that resistance training has a significant effect on excess post–exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC)–far more than aerobic exercise (Burleson, et al. 1998; Gillette, et al. 1994). Osterburg and Melby (2000) found that an intense resistance training bout increased resting metabolic rate by 4.2% over a 16 hour period following exercise, which is quite substantial. More recently, Schuenke and colleagues (2002) showed that EPOC was significantly elevated 38 hours after resistance training, highlighting its importance in reducing body fat.

Longer term studies show a significant impact of resistance training on metabolic rate. Cambell and colleagues reported an increase in resting metabolic rate of approximately 6.8% following 12 weeks of strength training. This translated into an additional 105 calories burned per day. A study by Pratley and colleagues (1994) came to a similar conclusion on the topic, showing a 7.7% increase in metabolic rate after a four month strength training protocol. And more recently, Hunter, et al. (2000) found that 26 weeks of regimented strength training resulted in a 6.8% increase in resting energy expenditure in elderly adults. Realize, too, that these studies examined the metabolic response in older individuals–younger subjects who strength train with higher intensities of effort are bound to see even greater results.

Finally, there is a substantial body of evidence that strength training is essential in promoting long term weight management (Bryner, et al 1999; Donnelly, et al. 1993; Ryan, et al, 1995). A recent study by Bea and colleagues (2009) gave further credence to this, showing that both frequency of resistance training and the amount of weight lifted were inversely associated with weight gain (i.e. those who exercised more and lifted more had lower body weights). On the whole, those who lifted were significantly leaner than those who didn’t.

Bottom line is that strength training confers a significant metabolic effect. For those seeking to lose body fat, it is an indispensable component of any exercise program. The research is clear: lift to lose!

Stay Fit!


Bea JW, Cussler EC, Going SB, Blew RM, Metcalfe LL, Lohman TG. Resistance Training Predicts Six-Year Body Composition Change in Postmenopausal Women. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2009 Dec 14.

Bryner Rw, et al. Effects of resistance vs. aerobic training combined with an 800 calorie liquid diet on lean
body mass and resting metabolic rate. J Am Coll Nutr. 1999 Apr;18(2):115-21.

Burleson, M.A. et al. 1998. Effect of weight training exercise and treadmill exercise on elevated post-exercise oxygen consumption. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 30, 518-22.
Campbell, W., M. Crim, V. Young and W. Evans. Increased energy requirements and changes in body composition with resistance training in older adults. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 60: 167-175, 1994

Donnelly JE, et al. Muscle hypertrophy with large-scale weight loss and resistance training. Am J Clin Nutr. 1993 Oct;58(4):561-5.

Gillette CA, Bullough RC, Melby CL. Postexercise energy expenditure in response to acute aerobic or resistive exercise. Int J Sport Nutr. 1994 Dec;4(4):347-60.

Hunter GR, Wetzstein CJ, Fields DA, Brown A, Bamman MM. (2000). Resistance training increases total energy expenditure and free-living physical activity in older adults. J Appl Physiol. 89(3):977-84.

Osterberg KL, Melby CL. Effect of acute resistance exercise on postexercise oxygen consumption and resting metabolic rate in young women. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2000 Mar;10(1):71-81.

Pratley, R., B. Nicklas, M. Rubin, J. Miller, A. Smith, M. Smith, B. Hurley and A. Goldberg. (1994). Strength training increases resting metabolic rate and norepinephrine levels in healthy 50- to 65-year-old men. Journal of Applied Physiology Jan;76(1):133-7.

Ryan AS, Pratley RE, Elahi D, Goldberg AP. Resistive training increases fat-free mass and maintains RMR despite weight loss in postmenopausal women. J Appl Physiol. 1995 Sep;79(3):818-23.

Schuenke MD, Mikat RP, McBride JM. Effect of an acute period of resistance exercise on excess post-exercise oxygen consumption: implications for body mass management. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2002 Mar;86(5):411-7.


  1. I thought the only way to lose body fats is thru diet and simple exercises. Good thing I stumbled upon this article. great info!

    Comment by Jacob — October 5, 2010 @ 11:50 am

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  4. In the wintertime my bedroom temperature is a constant 65 degrees at night. Yet when going to bed after weight training that day, I always have to turn on the fan to be comfortable. Else I wake up overheated and sweaty halfway through the night. I don’t have to do this on nights not following a weight session. This implies to me that my metabolism is elevated long after a weight session. If anyone cares, I am almost 52 years old.

    Comment by Glen — March 2, 2013 @ 1:40 pm

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