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Lose That Stomach Fat

There is a growing consensus that weight training (strength training) can help you lose stomach fat faster than doing just cardio exercise alone.

In 1999 a group of researchers set out to explore the effects of resistance vs. aerobic training combined with an 800 calorie liquid diet on lean body mass and resting metabolic rate.

Two groups of ten individuals were placed on very low-calorie diets consisting of 800 calories per day. One group performed 1 hour of cardio exercise, 4 times a week by walking, biking or stair climbing. The other group performed 3 strength training workouts a week, consisting of 10 stations. During each workout they completed two sets of 8-15 repetitions, increasing to 4 sets of 8-15 by the end of 12 weeks.

In the end, the cardio group lost more weight than the strength training group. BUT...

The weight they lost consisted mostly of lean body weight, i.e. muscle. The group that performed strength training lost NO lean body weight, despite consuming a paltry 800 calories a day.

Another important discovery was how strength training actually increased resting metabolic rate or the number of calories the strength training group required at rest. The RMR of the cardio group dropped.

A second study, also done in 1999, by Kramer, Volek et al. set out to examine the physiological effects of a weight-loss diet with different types of exercise.

They took 35 overweight men and randomly assigned them to one of four groups:

Control group
A diet-only group
A diet group that performed aerobic exercise three times per week.
A diet group that performed both aerobic and strength training three times per week

After 12 weeks, the diet group lost 21 pounds, the diet plus cardio group lost 20 pounds (1 less than diet alone!) and the group that performed both aerobic and strength training lost 22 pounds of body weight.

For those of you who hate exercise, this might look like a good thing, right? After all, doing cardio actually produced one pound less weight loss and adding weights to the cardio only bumped up weight loss by 1 pound over not doing anything. For all that effort, who needs it?

BUT... before you give up exercise..

The amount of FAT lost for the diet-only group was 69% of total weight lost or 14.5 pounds.
The amount of FAT lost for the diet-plus-cardio group was 78% of total weight lost or 15.5 pounds.
The amount of FAT lost for the diet, cardio and strength training group was 21.3 pounds!

That's SIX more pounds of fat lost over twelve weeks. To put that in perspective, that's taking a lot away your midsection...just by doing some strength training a few times a week.

This study, in particular, demonstrates the importance of NOT focusing just on how much body weight you lose, but on how much fat you're losing. While accurately measuring your body fat can be difficult, you can use a body composition monitor to help you. They can help you track trends in your body fat levels.

Another important component is, of course, eating a healthy diet as well. Ask any fitness pro or nutrition expert and you will hear that diet is typically about 80% responsible when it comes to  losing weight, with exercise contributing 20%.