People often get misinformed about what actually burns fat the fastest and what methods they should be using when setting out a goal for fat loss. Cardio is often the top answer when asking this question, but is it really?
You often hear how people may not always enjoy the cardio aspect of training and for that we have a solution. Lifting weights has been shown to burn fat much faster and for much longer than a cardio workout. There are numerous studies backing up this statement, that working every muscle group in the body at a high intensity can have a significant change in the metabolic baseline of the body, leaving the metabolism elevated for several hours post-weights workout. Resting metabolic rate (RMR) is the rate at which the body can burn calories whilst not exercising. The RMR differs from everyone, as some may be higher than others and that comes down to how much muscle mass there is on the body and how hard those muscles can work. Implementing new exercises and activities that promote muscle mass and make the muscles work harder will elevate the metabolic rate.
Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) is the amount of oxygen required to bring your body back to its resting rate (homeostasis). EPOC is the reason why people are able to burn calories for hours post-exercise, and doing any type of high intensity training can activate this system. Lighter training can still activate this system but may only take the body a few minutes for it to return to its pre-exercise baseline. When doing high intensity resistance training (a full body workout) it creates the largest metabolic demand and will activate the EPOC system because of the amount of energy required. Shorter recovery periods can greatly increase the response for hours after training as the demand on the muscles can be much higher. EPOC does work best with High Intensity Interval Training which is not limited by cardio but can be done in a weights circuit workout.
A study done by Kraemer (1999) tested 3 groups; diet only, diet and aerobic, diet aerobic and resistance. The findings of this study showed than the diet only group lost on average 6.6kg over a 12 week period, with the aerobic group losing half a kg more at 7.1kg. The resistance and aerobic group lost on average 9.5kg over the 12 week period. This showed how greatly resistance training can aid in the results of fat loss with a change in diet. In addition to this, nutrition should be the cornerstone for a fat loss goal and used in conjunction with resistance training and aerobic training.
To conclude, resistance training is shown and proven to burn fat at a higher rate than cardio alone, especially when a change in diet occurs. Completing a full body workout that consists of supersets, tri-sets or circuit based workouts can elicit the greatest metabolic demand and done within a 8-15 rep range. Training isolated muscle groups will not burn calories as high as doing the full body approach.
Kramer, Volek et al. Influence of exercise training on physiological and performance changes with weight loss in men. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 31, No. 9, pp. 1320-1329, 1999.
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