It is often stated that heavy loads (>65% 1RM) are required to promote muscular adaptations; light loads are generally considered ineffective for enhancing these outcomes. Recently, this belief has been challenged by several researchers. It has been proposed that as long as training is car...
February 2, 2010
In previous blog posts, I’ve addressed the importance of resistance training in reducing body fat and maintaining weight loss. You may remember that this was a hot topic over the summer in my rebuttal to the Time Magazine article on whether exercise is beneficial for losing weight. Now comes yet more evidence to back up these claims.
In a study published in the prestigious journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, a research group led by Jennifer Bea evaluated the effects of strength training on 122 postmenopausal women over the course of a 6-year period. All of the women had been previously sedentary. At the beginning of the study, 65 of the women were placed in an exercise program consisting of various strength training training exercises including squats and presses. A year into the study, 32 of the remaining non-exercisers were placed on the exercise program, leaving 25 of the women to serve as controls who did not exercise throughout the entire period studied. What was the outcome? As you may have guessed, strength training had a positive effect on weight management. Specifically, both exercise frequency 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.
For anyone who has read this blog, these results should not come as a surprise. The metabolic benefits attributed to lifting weights have been well documented. Not only is there a significant caloric cost associated with strength training (provided rest intervals are limited and sets are sufficiently challenging), but it also increases excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (i.e. the “afterburn”) so that calorie burning continues for up to 38 hours or more after a workout. Further, muscle itself is a metabolically active tissue that serves to keep your metabolism stoked round the clock. By increasing muscle development, strength training indirectly promotes better weight management.
Bottom line: An exercise program aimed at weight loss should always have a strength training component. While aerobic exercise certainly will help to expedite fat loss, nothing replaces lifting weights for enhancing fat burning and, more importantly, keeping the weight off over the long term. Lift to lose!
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.
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